Discipline can be rough for us parents. All we want for our children is to be happy and successful. When someone tells you “No,” what is your first reaction? Mine is total defense. There have been studies done with children and the “no” discipline approach. This type of discipline causes poor posture, low self-esteem, dependence and a fear-based mentality. Notice, these attributes are common in our Western Society. Do not think the word No is the only dis-empowering talk. This also goes for the words “Don’t” and “Stop that!”
Then the next question, “How do I discipline my young child?” Let’s look at what they are doing that needs discipline. Is your child throwing things off the shelves at the store? If so there is something happening. Notice, have they had their nap? Are they bugged about Mommy and Daddy’s argument? Or is this an exploration and fun time for them? Do they do things like this at home? I will ask you, what is your next action to cease this action? Personally, I ask my son to come and see something interesting. There were times where asking him to put these things back on the shelf worked. The key is patience on our part. It is important to be able to read our child and what they are expressing, such as curiosity, frustration in the present or pent up from a previous experience, or perhaps the final burst of energy due to being overly tired. It’s up to us to compassionately determine the child’s need or their reason for acting out so we can effectively lead them.
The secret discovery here may not be a secret. We are all raising our children in a fear based society. Shifting the already known and taught ways of an automatic shut down of No and Don’t, takes us making major shifts in our thinking and way of being. This means trust that our child will not get hurt and even trusting our children as a whole. I have seen if I’m constantly saying No or Careful, doubt is created in my child and more accidents occur. When I am watchful and not fearful, the unimaginable doesn’t happen and my child benefits from trusting himself in determining his boundaries.
Consider allowing them to make their choices, be flexible and allow them to stay when it is clear they are in the moment of enjoying something. Funny, as a two year old boy, I tell my son when I can tell he’s had his fill of playing and would benefit from napping, “Mama is finished playing and is ready to go. I would like to leave together.” He immediate whines a bit and walks with me. If we allow them the independence to gain their own confidence, our children will let us know when they are ready. This goes the same with potty training, they let us know when they are ready.
Hey, we are not perfect and there is really no one perfect way to raise our children. It is having an awareness of being in our children shoes, respect for them like they are adults and making sure their basic needs are taken care of as that is all there is.
I was reading a book by Marshall Rosenberg and he described an experiment he conducted on a group of people. He split the group in two and told one half to write a description of how they would communicate to overcome a conflict with a neighbor. The other half was told to describe the same conflict communication, but toward a child. The two groups were brought together and asked to read their solutions without either group knowing they were asked to communicate to a child or a neighbor. They assumed they had the same target audience. Once the conflict responses were read out loud, the group was saddened by the majority of dehumanizing methods of communication targeted at the hypothetical children. Reading about this study was interesting, because I have been aiming to communicate with my little one as I would with my peers. Even though the words may not be completely understood by my two year old, I see my love, compassion and humble communication is comprehended through my tone of voice.
At first, it may seem like a drawn out process to communicate eye to eye with a full explanation compared to a final one word expression. Taking a little more time to compassionately say what’s up will create loads of trust and connection between you and your child for a lifetime. It will also powerfully model how you would like your child to communicate with you and others in the present and into their teen years. Of course I do have one word that my child responds to when there is a form of danger, such as approaching cars, etc. That is a must in our fast paced and sometimes overwhelming society. Try it….consider creating alternatives to those diminishing words of NO, DON’T and STOP and watch your child flourish, trust grow and your relationship deepen.