Working from home during this time has placed an added level of pressure on all families. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could all follow a failsafe guide when it comes to disciplining children? Parents all wish there were a set of ‘one size fits all’ instructions that didn’t result in the 3R’s.
But the reality is there are 100’s of decisions you have to make as a mom or dad. And there is a different answer for every child. This leads many parents to fall into a cycle. Your child does something you think is wrong. Then you try to discipline them. Or you shout. Then your child does the same thing again. Then you discipline again and shout. This goes on repeat. Over and over.
There is no doubt this is happening what seems like a million times a day as you deal with having your family together 24/7. It means as a parent, you’re on a short fuse. However patient you are. And children are trying to understand the strange world we now live in.
So why does this happen? And how can you deal with it in the tinderbox atmosphere of self-isolation and working from home?
There’s a way to break this pattern. So your discipline gets to the heart of what you perceive as disobedience. It’s a way that uses a guidance approach. But it’s an ongoing process that requires persistence from you.
What are the 3 ‘R’s’?
Did you know 75%of disruptions in your family are a result of resentment, retaliation, and rebellion? If you eliminate these, you can use a compassionate, fair, and effective way of educating your child without needing to reward or punish them.
When you discipline your child, you need to make sure you’re approaching the process from the point of love. You are teaching them and listening to their point of view. If you want to avoid the 3 R’s when you are disciplining your children, firstly, you don’t do it when you are about to explode. It’s an easy ask. But not so simple when you feel like you are about to erupt with more might than a volcano.
Tensions are riding high, with everyone cooped up at home. So, take a deep breath, think, and then approach your child. Act with compassion.
Your discipline should never involve a personal attack. Think about the language you use. Your words have power. Don’t call your children “stupid,’ ‘lazy,’ or ‘dumb.’ Don’t give them a label. And don’t compare them to their siblings. While this might be a good thing in the short-term, in the long run, it will be incredibly harmful and have terrible effects. Ultimately it will make your child feel miserable, and they won’t want to bother with anything.
This will be your first step to avoiding resentment, retaliation, and rebellion in your child. You need to give them the space to realize that you understand they had a lapse in self-control, and give yourself space to not react to that.
Ways you can dissipate the stress and avoid the ‘3 R’s’
One way you dissipate trouble is by removing your child from the situation. Don’t do this in a harsh way. This is to let you both have space and achieve calm. Do this for at least 5 minutes. Then you can talk over what happened.
Now you can ask your child to reflect. Ask them why they reacted the way they did to the situation. This will help you both work through the conflict. Here you are allowing them to look at their choices.
When you punish a child over the way they have reacted, it just causes anger and resentment. Especially if you are doing it from the point of how you felt in relation to the incident.
Discipline, when done with a guidance approach, is different from punishment. It enables children to learn from their mistakes and reactions, rather than making them suffer for them.
If you impose suffering, then the focus is moved to the person in control from the lesson. It results in your child blaming you, and resenting you, rather than learning any teaching you were attempting concerning what they did.
In the same way, psychologists have also conducted tests that suggest rewards do not work effectively either. They reduce our motivation and enjoyment.
Experiments carried out revealed children who were paid for drawing, actually did less than those who weren’t. If you reward a child for sharing, they do less. Psychologists refer to this as the ‘overjustification effect.’ Any external reward is overshadowed due to internal motivation.
Did you know rewards are also seen as lowering creativity? In another study, two groups were given a set of materials and asked to attach them to the wall. Those that were told they would get paid, took a lot longer. It was a test of innovative thinking. The trial discovered if you are rewarded, your fields of view are narrowed, and your brain stops puzzling.
Ultimately, the concept of rewards and punishments is the view we have to shape children, and they need to be controlled. It’s when the 3 R’s can take effect. On both sides. Having a positive regard for your child should be unconditional.
What you can do as a parent
As a parent, you need to overcome the embedded unconscious negative view of children that precipitates your decisions. That can include using a heavy hand instead of seeing your children’s tantrums and acting out as the ‘manifestation of their unmet needs.’ Your child is expressing themself in what is seen as a socially unacceptable way because that is their skill level.
In homes where obedience and compliance are the requirements, children do end up at some point in resistance, retaliation, and rebellion. It can lead them to suffer and get a negative stigma. Then they learn they don’t matter. And their voices are not necessary. Â It can lead to self-harm, suicide, depression, anxiety, disassociation, and suffering.
The truth behind your child saying no and pushing back is they need to be taught. If you can depersonalize and see their ‘rebellion’ as a listening opportunity, you can be curious about what your child is saying yes to within themselves.
Then you both can move toward honest conversations and connections. As a parent, you are telling your child, ‘you are a person too. I acknowledge you have your feelings and needs.’
It’s your golden opportunity. You integrate what is going on inside your child with what is going on in you. Now you can look at ways to brainstorm the problem. You can come up with a solution so everyone’s needs are met.
Now more than ever before, it’s essential to create psychological safety in the home. This means kids can be honest and you can enable them to work through what is going on inside of them. Meanwhile, as they look at themselves and how they dealt with the experience, your child can also recognize that the outer voices are saying something different. And you can all process that in a loving way.
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A 3xTEDx speaker, media contributor, parenting coach, and a mom of two - helping families thrive by using the Guidance Approach to Parenting.