How can we discipline our children in a way that’s effective, meaningful, and peaceful?
Do you ever feel like you are under incredible pressure to “discipline your child” but aren’t quite sure what exactly that means or what to do? It can be difficult with culture’s mandates and our own irritation levels to know exactly what to do.
In this episode, you’ll discover the true meaning of discipline. I’ll be giving you 3 actionable steps to learn how to discipline your child.
As parents we can be under incredible pressure to discipline our children. Have you ever been told you need to control your child, or discipline them? Or maybe you weren’t directly told but you felt that was the message directed at you by onlookers or culture in general?
It can sometimes feel as though people are waiting, wanting to see that something was “done” about this supposed infraction.
In mainstream society, “discipline your child” usually means punish them in some way. The problem is, as we know, punishments usually backfire. Punishments fail to teach the lessons we are hoping they will. They can actually cause more sneaky behavior to try to avoid getting caught and therefore punished.
But, no matter how much we want to avoid punishment we can still feel the urge to do something when child misbehaves. To react or respond or at the very least somehow show our disapproving feelings.
The good news is we CAN do something: we are the guide (checkout Episode 13 for more on being the guide) our children do look to us to teach.
Here are 3 steps to take to discipline your child:
1. Show don’t tell
You need to demonstrate discipline by showing instead of telling. Have you ever heard yourself saying “I’ve told him time and time again…”? It seems as though in the peaceful parenting realm we can get stuck in our words. “I’ve told her to stop hitting her brother but she keeps on doing it – obviously this peaceful parenting thing isn’t working.” Sometimes it can feel like every day is a “we’ve been through this before!!!!” type of day.
The problem is kids don’t learn through long lectures and they definitely don’t learn immediately following a behavior they know is not allowed – at that moment they are in flight/fright/freeze mode. They did not choose to hit their brother for the 5th time today or slam the door for the 20th time because they didn’t get the memo it’s not allowed. You simply repeating this to them over and over is ignoring the act of frustration and rebellion they are demonstrating. At that moment your child is trying to get a message across and is therefore doing this behavior exactly because it is not allowed.
Us telling them it is not allowed is not helpful information. What is helpful information is acting. True discipline in this moment is to come and stop the behavior. Not by threatening or yelling but by coming in and gently, physically stopping the action.
When we choose not to act it’s because WE are NOT disciplined enough.
Show the discipline with actions, with experiences, with modeling and NOT through telling/words.
2. We get what we pay for
We need to continue showing up if we want to change a behavior and discipline our children.
There needs to be intentionality behind what we do – disciplined behaviors are not chaotic or random. Discipline is something we ourselves need to BE.
Through showing up regularly and practicing the tools we talk about we create a disciplined approach within us and a learning environment for our children.
If you want them to be an adult who brushes their teeth, we need to help them do the behavior so regularly it becomes the norm. If you want to stop your child from hitting/biting we need to show up every day for it. It’s not just once – it’s continual.
Anything you want results in involves repetition. The things we want to really work on are the things we need to be really disciplined about and this will vary from family to family.
When you tell your kids they have 5 minutes to get on their shoes and get ready to leave and they choose to keep playing you most likely become irritated that you are all now late. But what were you doing during that time? Were you being disciplined yourself and getting your shoes on, coat ready to walk out the door? Or were you doing one last load of laundry, checking your phone, finishing up a call with a friend? How can your children be disciplined in getting out the door on time if you yourself are not setting that example and leading the way on how it’s done?
At the end of the day, we get what we pay for – if we won’t pay with our attention, commitment and follow through then we won’t get what we want.
3. Be the Student
We are ever learning students of parenting. Try taking an approach to this as a scientist would an experiment. Continue to test – what is working what isn’t working? What variables can you account for?
Connect to the learning process. What is the true meaning of this behavior? Why is this happening and what can we learn from this?
Students learn better from a teacher who believes in them. Reminding yourself and your child: this was ok, it was a mistake but it’s ok, it is a learning opportunity. Remember the learning process and believe in it.
In addition to being a student yourself, create an environment so your children CAN learn. Did you ever have a teacher that didn’t believe in you in some way? Did that make you motivated to change or master the skill? If the teacher isn’t believing in the change she wishes to see and isn’t continuing the process with kindness the child may not be open to learning. They may not be open to stopping what they’re doing and develop a different habit instead.
We can sometimes get stuck in labels (for more on labels checkout my blog post on it here). My child is a biter or hitter. I’m the mother of a biter/hitter. This can leave us stuck here no matter how much progress our child is making. Instead focus on the progress that has been made and drop the label. In order for them to be a good student they need you to BELIEVE they can achieve it.
When we practice what we preach, show up, follow through regularly, and notice the incremental improvements that’s when we can see true results.
We don’t need punishments or rewards we just need to be disciplined ourselves!
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