Ways to Discipline a Child Part 2
Ways to Discipline a Child, Part 1 discussed the choices we have as parents in how we respond to our children when we feel a change of behavior may be beneficial. I outlined punishment and permissiveness and gave examples of how parents might use these different responses. Part 2 is dedicated to aspects of true discipline – teaching with wisdom, which can be a practice for some time until it becomes habit.
Discipline seeks to gently guide the child with love and create a space for the child to become self-aware and self-teaching, primary experience is power/strength/value/worth with the child, in spiritual terms believes a child’s inherent nature of goodness, being a child of Creation, simply needs nurturing. A parent who practices discipline will:
- Accept the behavior is occurring/has occurred, love the child first from the heart and guide towards an appropriate behavior.
- Trust the child truly wants to get along and cooperate even when behavior speaks otherwise.
- Notice the behavior that requires a response, this varies from parent to parent and situation to situation and changes over time. Focus on the opposite of the undesired behavior – the behavior that is wanted and communicate that to the child. Alex is hitting his sister. Mom’s response, “Alex, hitting hurts. People like their bodies respected. Please be gentle with your sister.”
- Ask the child to choose differently, with a specific choice or two highlighted. “Sara, telling me to give you the cookie right now feels/is demanding. I like to be asked. Can you please ask in another way/try a different approach?”
- Model the behavior wanted in and out of the situation. The child pulls the dogs hair and the parent gently strokes the dog while placing a hand over the child’s hand to guide the child in stroking the dog also. “Opal likes to be pet gently.”
- Acknowledge that some children (and parents) need space when intense emotions such as frustration, anger or sadness arise. They also need unconditional love and acceptance available. Remove a child gently from the situation and stay in a safe space with the child while feeling whatever comes up for the parent while not taking action from anger, cry if necessary.
- Tune into what example you are setting as a parent in the moment. Adjust accordingly if you want to set a different example.
- See the child as a mirror. What could your child be reflecting emotionally for you? As you work on healing emotional upset within you through deep breathing and acknowledgment the guidance you need to provide to your child becomes more clear.
- From a place of neutral observation ask your child how he feels about what he has done. Ask if he feels sorry, what choice he may make next time or if he has any ideas for how to work the situation out. Kids are brilliant and often respond well to being asked in this way when emotions are through being intense.
- Encourage the child to trust him/herself, to check inside for the answer to a situation, to make choices/decisions and learn from the results.
- Encourage the child to observe how he feels and how others feel in response to her actions. Encourage a balance of integrity and dignity with self and others.
- Trust children are always learning and each behavior “mishap” is simply a perfect opportunity for parent and child to learn together.
- Recognize that repetition is part of the process.
Each parent must decide what discipline means. The decision must factor in whether or not the short and long-term results of a particular discipline method determine how a parent will teach. While punishment may create a short-term result of obedience, it stems from a fear-based relationship with the parent that has been shown in research to promote aggressiveness and long-term harm in ways that cannot always be detected initially. Discipline may take longer with more repetition and stems from a trust-based relationship with the parent that leads to long-term self-awareness and confidence. Teaching methods vary from parent to parent based on several factors including personality, past experience, awareness – and the basis for teaching does create results in the lives of everyone involved.
Discipline that “works” honors the innate worth of everyone involved. Teaching with wisdom releases old held patterns of shaming, harm and other negative outcomes while focusing on behavior that is appropriate and allowing the child to be the unique being she is here to be. Children who are guided in this way have the potential to greatly impact society in a positive manner.
Children are continually calling parents forward to the deep truths of Life. Parents have the opportunity in each new moment to examine the ways of thinking and behavior that co-create the experiences they have with their children and choose differently when necessary. Embracing discipline that works allows families to blossom and spread love beyond expectations throughout the world.
Photo Credit: Author
This article has been edited from a previous version published at Innate Wholeness.
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