This post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.
Sometimes with the stress of everything that life throws at us, parents can use some handy reminders to help us be more compassionate with our children in the moment. The authors of No Drama Discipline have come up with just such a reminder to help you remember what it means to discipline: 1-2-3 Discipline. Forget the 1-2-3 that you may have heard other parents using, giving the child to the count of three to do what they were told or face whatever punishment the parent decides. The authors aren’t advocating the use of threats, at all, and they aren’t advocating a parental dictatorship. What is 1-2-3 Disicpline? It is (1) a definition and two principles: (2) waiting until the child is ready to learn and (3) being consistent in how we respond but not being rigid to the point where we can’t be flexible and compassionate as we work with our children.
One – Define Discipline. What is discipline? When discussing discipline with our children, we tend to focus on the now. However, discipline is not a short-term goal. It is developed over time, with maturing brains and experiences as a part of it. Discipline is developed, and often adults even have a difficult time being self-disciplined. So what does it mean when we discipline our children? Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses what discipline means in To Discipline, To Teach.
Two – Wait until the Child is Ready. You can talk until you are blue in the face, but if your child is not in a receptive state, everything you say is just, as my mother used to say, “going in one ear and out the other.” When your child is using all of their resources to try and get a handle on big emotions, they can’t handle any more input by listening to us talk about a behavior. Make certain everyone is safe. Connect with your child, and then help them calm down so they are in a receptive state.
Three – Be Consistent but Not Rigid. Consistency does not mean that you act the same way every single time with arbitrary rules. That is an example of rigidity. Consistency refers more to how you respond and what children can expect from you. Do you respond with compassion in some cases, scream in others, and throw out threats or punishments at other times? It is confusing to a child. It is okay to be frustrated (most of us have been there). It is okay to state feelings. However, as gentle parents, we need to strive to act compassionately so that our children know they can always count on us. Emily talks about a real life example of using Flexibility and Empathy over at Embrita Bloggings.
Natural Parent Network also has some suggestions on Gentle Discipline and Safety.