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Today I share 5 secrets about using discipline that are rarely discussed yet super important if you want to be able to choose discipline over punishment with your kids.
This is an important topic for you to be aware of because it can influence your effectiveness as a parent, as well as your confidence…which is of course connected to your vibrancy and even your relationship with your child.
Many parents make the decision to use discipline with their child, only to discover they keep slipping up. Maybe they find that despite their best efforts to stay calm and consistent, they often over-react, flipping back into practices they promised they would never use on their child and then feeling guilty and ashamed at what they have done.
Or maybe they have decided to use discipline, but find that their kids don't listen to them most of the time and their partner, mother (or mother-in-law) keeps telling them the problem is they are too soft or inconsistent.
Discipline is not soft…it's actually much harder to do than punishment, but it does require self-awareness, training and adjustments to what you have already internalized (from your own youth as well as from society at large).
As a result of this kind of judgement and flip-flopping back and forth, the mom who is trying to discipline, can often feel her vibrancy slipping. She blames her own lack of self-discipline as the problem and fears others finding out. She might feel like her child is running the show and often feels unsupported by those around her. This is tough on her self-esteem, her ability to be a great parent and her relationship with her child.
In reality, this problem is way more common than any parent would ever dream. It happens for five reasons that people rarely talk about, never mind help us to overcome. Once you are aware of these reasons and begin to recognize them when they arise, this troublesome way of thinking can stop and the real learning can begin.
If you are a parent, teacher, daycare worker or coach of young kids and are trying to use discipline rather than punishment, then this podcast is for you.
In a very recent episode (April 9th, 2018) I talked about the difference between Discipline & Punishment so if you haven't listened to/read that and aren't sure how to differentiate the two, you might want to check it out as well.
5 Secrets about Discipline
Secret 1: Discipline is about awakening and strengthening your child's moral code and not about calling all the shots
When you use discipline you are not giving your child a list of what's okay to do, and what is not. Instead you are trying to help him internalize a way of living that will guide him in making good decisions throughout his life -- whether you are there to enforce things or not. It's about helping your child become independent and confident in his uniqueness so he can embrace whatever life throws his way and grow to his full potential.
In other words, discipline is about helping your child stay firmly connected to his natural state of resiliency which is an important part of living life to the fullest.
With discipline you're trying to teach a moral code that your child will use to make all kinds of decisions in the future.
Two things you need to know about this...
First, discipline is taught more through what you do than what you say. This means how you behave must back-up the skills you are hoping your child will internalize.
The good news is that you control you…so while it might not seem fair that your kids learn more from what you do than all the wonderful things you say to them, it still allows you some choice about the behaviours you are promoting.
It's also good to note that most of this modeling is absorbed in the younger years as the teenage years are more about "living it" than "learning it". In the younger years your parent power (the magic wand of parenting) is still firmly in place and can be used as back-up when your child isn't listening and you really need them to.
So if your modeling and your message are consistent in the younger years and you're not abusing your magic wand of parenting, you can create a strong foundation for your child to use as they get older.
The bad news is nobody is self-disciplined all the time. You will have moments when your actions contradict what you are trying to teach which you can bet your kids will notice and grab onto. If you misuse your power on a regular basis and/or model behaviours you don't want to see from your kids, things can get rough, especially in those teenage years.
So even though you might believe your focus needs to be on noticing and fixing your child’s mistakes, in a disciplined family, it's really your own behaviours that will take up most of your energy.
Second, discipline will not always stop your child from behaving in ways you find unacceptable. You are teaching him how to think, not what to think. A moral code is like a personal sounding board that your teen will run things by to determine whether or not he feels they are acceptable. Just because you disagree with something and feel it is bad behaviour, does not mean your child will come to the same conclusion (especially when they are in the rebellion of the teenage years). Also the use of brain altering substances like alcohol or drugs can affect anyone's ability to make good decision based on a sound moral code. That aside…
Although you'll certainly have a say in the boundaries your child must abide by while he's living with you, he will develop his own opinions and that might result in a "code of conduct" that's quite different from yours. The benefit of using discipline is that your child will not feel a need to strike out at you and your beliefs, but instead will respectfully disagree.
True discipline is largely based on the notion of unconditional love which means accepting and loving others despite differences. Not being able to call all the shots as your child gets older, is a hard thing for many parents to accept, but a necessary one to use discipline properly.
Secret 2: Discipline will always be harder to do than punishment
Since the only way you can truly teach self-discipline is to model it yourself, you need to be the "bigger person" even when your child is pushing your buttons, embarrassing you, and behaving in ways you believe are totally inappropriate. If this sounds easy, you might want to read it again…
Listen to the podcast for the rest of this top secret information!
If you're finding it hard to discipline your child or your efforts seem to be failing to get the result you need, set up a complimentary (no obligation) discovery call with me and I'll help you figure out what's blocking your success.