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Parenting: Topic 6- Discipline

June 2, 2015

“Our job is not to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. Our job is to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.” – L.R. Knost

While many people may have grown up with a “whoopin” or “spankings” or a good “whack on the back of the hand” and turned out fine, we have to remember that society has changed. We can do nothing about how society is today as a whole—a democratic society where everyone is equal, including children. We can complain all we want and say, “Well, I was spanked and turned out fine. I am going to spank my kids and they will turn out fine.” Yes, that is one way to look at it. However, child development, brain research, and today’s society guides parents towards a more effective approach that will help in the development of our children’s brain—which remember, doesn’t fully develop until they are about 25! So, while I am not telling you to change your mind on “a good spanking” I am encouraging you to see it from their (kids) side, see if from the researchers side, and in reality, see if from your side when you were a child— did you like it? Did you behave because you knew it was the right thing to do or because you were scared/fearful of what might happen?

(8 good reasons not to spank: (http://cdn.activeparenting.com/downloads/Spanking_Article.pdf) )

In today’s day “Bullying” is a hot topic term. And if you think about it, really think about it and reflect, when a parent physically or emotionally hurts their child they are bullying their child. A bully is someone who is bigger inflicting pain on someone who is weaker— reflect. And, to add wood to the fire, timeouts have been found that they don’t necessarily work either— they are not logically connected to most misbehaviors therefore saying, “go to timeout” does not logically connect in our children’s brains. “I go to timeout because I didn’t pick up my toys?” Now does that make sense? No. You lose your toys for a few days because you did not make the choice to pick them up as we have talked about before. (You are helping the brain make those connections of considering consequences.)

“So what am I supposed to do if I learned to discipline by spanking/timeouts and now you’re telling me I can’t spank/timeout my child?” Help your child’s brain develop by guiding them towards responsibility.

Responsibility = Choices + Consequences

Everything in life is a choice. We have learned that providing choices to our children is beneficial. But, we need to make sure that there are either natural or logical consequences to those choices in order to build within our children the character trait/skill of responsibility.

There is a progression of steps to help our children understand consequences. And, yes, you may need to do it 100 times before the 101st time they finally have a solid connection in their brain to understand the choice and consequence for that particular action.

Step 1: Use a polite request.

Please put your toys away when you are done playing.

Step 2: I message

I have a problem with your toys being left around the house. I feel sad because our house is messy. I would like you to put your toys away every time you are finished playing. Will you do that? (Accountability)

Step 3: Firm Reminder

Clean up now. (Short, sweet, to the point)

That doesn’t work? Or you have done that several instances and had a discussion about expectations and they still aren’t making the choice to follow through? Move onto the next step.

Logical and Natural Consequences

A natural consequence occurs without the parent doing anything, but is still safe for the child to experience. (i.e. They don’t water a plant, the plant dies.)

A logical consequence is when a parent provides a consequence that is LINKED TO THE MISBEHAVIOR. It takes practice. It takes reflection. It takes time. It takes teamwork. But, logical consequences are the most important piece of helping children understand that choices have consequences. Make sure to have a conversation with your children so they understand the connection and can see, “Oh, yeah. I fought over the Xbox and now the Xbox is gone for a while.”

Examples:

The toys are left out (after going through steps 1-3) then the toys are put up for a few days.

Your children are fighting over the Xbox (after going through steps1-3) then the Xbox is taking away for a few days.

You can also use “When/Then” or “Either/Or” Logical consequences.

When you clean up your room, then we can go outside and play. If you choose not to clean up your room, we will not be able to go outside and play.” (Work before the play)

Either you share the game with your brother/sister or there will be no game for one week.”

** Remember, you are teaching your child two things: Responsibility and how to solve problems. If the only way they know how to solve problems is through hitting (spanking) or ignoring the situation (timeouts) they are more likely going to resort to solving problems in unhealthy ways with peers, family members, and eventually significant others.

It’s all about teaching and helping develop our children’s brain so they can be happy, healthy adults one day.

Take time to reflect. Take time to consider. And, really, just take time to see it from your child’s point of view.

*Most of this information is taken from the curriculum Active Parenting. However, I have also done my own research and added it in when necessary. I am not marketing Active Parenting nor do I get anything from the sales of Active Parenting. (Michael Popkin, Ph.D., 2014)

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