by Hannah Slattery, LPC, NCC
Parents, I want to be able to wrap up Positive Discipline (PD) in a present with a shiny bow and give it to you. I want you to know that your anger and cries have been heard and I am here to give you the 411 on PD and all it can be. So I want to start with the basics so you can begin retraining your brain to be helpful for you and your family.
One of the first components to understand is that Positive Discipline means to teach or train towards growth. As parents, we have a big responsibility to show our kids how to interact with the world, and that starts with how they interact with us(parents) and themselves. Notice how your child talks to themselves, are they easily discouraged, quick to anger, or struggle with feeling like they have a place in the world? These are all learned beliefs about themselves and their relationship with you. Now don’t get discouraged just yet because it’s time to learn new tools so you can feel more confident and more love from your children.
I’d like you to imagine a ladder, and you, the parent is at the top. Looking down you see your child. How does it feel for you to look down at your child? Can you tell, from way up there how your child is feeling? What type of parenting can you accomplish from being so far away from your child? What type of communication or bonding can you incorporate from a distance? Now let’s change this up a bit, let’s lay the ladder horizontally, putting you and your child on a similar level. Can you see your child’s eyes or notice their body language?
Allowing yourself to meet your child where they are at is the start of mutual respect. Now what will mutual respect bring? This will open up your child to believing they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. Allowing the parent to invite productivity and motivation. Now all this sounds nice, but how do we do it?
It’s time for your first lesson.
I’d like you to think about all the challenges you have with your child, what they don’t do, how they treat you, their siblings etc. You can either write it down or take a mental note. Now for the second half I’d like you to think about all the characteristics we want our children to have by the time they reach adulthood. You may think that these two lists are complete opposites but this is exactly where we need to start.
Positive Discipline believes that through all challenges there is room for growth. Challenges are actually where we are going to grow the most!
When our child does not follow through on an agreed upon task, responsibility, or mannerism there is room for discipline. Our children will struggle to develop the characteristics we want them to have by adulthood if they cannot learn from their experiences without blame, shame and pain.
So how do I teach my child without blame, shame or pain? The next bit I am going to share with you is the base of Positive Discipline. It’s important to understand that children will not want to follow through on rules if they have not been able to be apart of the creation of them. If they learn how to contribute to not only chores but the household environment then they will learn long lasting skills into adulthood.
4 Effective Criteria for Positive Discipline
Is it kind and firm at the same time
Does it help children feel and sense of belonging and significance
Is it effective long-term
Does it teach valuable social and life skills for good character
Now I’d like you to take some time to digest all the information you just read. I’d like you to take a moment to reflect on how you were feeling while reading this. What were you thinking? Did you start carrying a feeling of guilt, anger, confusion, excitement? All are allowed here. Just as you are to try and teach your children without shame and guilt, you need to start with yourself. Another blog will hold more information about the 4 criteria for effective discipline so you can truly start to transform your family.
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