D I S C I P L I N E – D U M P S – Teaching vs. Punishing
D I S C I P L I N E – D U M P S – Teaching vs. Punishing
Many moons ago…I found myself in the Discipline Dumps…where every day was a major drag…maybe you can relate to my story.
I had just left my dream career in the surf industry that I had worked SO hard to create…to stay at home with my babes…thinking:
“THIS is going to be dreamy! We’ll spend our mornings crafting & giggling together, our afternoons on the warm sunny beaches of San Diego, and in between will be long 2 hour blissful naps where I’ll get to take care of myself & all the things on my to-do list“.
HA….this was NOT quite the reality of my new “Stay at Home Mom Life”.
Instead…I was catapulted into figuring out how to navigate the extreme highs & lows and epic misbehavior that my little girl had at the time, as she was just embarking on the many challenges of the toddler years.
I was only equipped with the parenting toolkit I had inherited…which mostly consisted of this mindset:
“When kids are bad, they get in trouble…when they’re good, they get rewarded” AND “If you’re a good parent, you can control your kid, if you’re a bad parent, you’ll see it in your kid’s behavior.“
Yikes….no wonder things got really messy…and I ended up feeling like a failure every.single.day.
Soon enough, our days were filled with:
- Time-out after time-out (I swear we were averaging 5-10 a day)
- Yelling (I seriously must have been terrifying at times to a 25 lb. child)
- Threatening (“Do you want a time out? Do you want to get in trouble?“)
- Taking toys away (we had a serious line-up of things we KNEW she’d be scared about if we threatened to take them away)
- Throwing toys away (I have a crazy story about throwing away one of her favorite toys & the epic tantrum that ensued…I’ll save that for another day)
- Throwing things down the stairs (Our first attempt at a calming kit was the most epic fail ever)
- Slamming doors (So many wreaths and door hangings were broken during that year of craziness)
- Hurting (I’m ashamed to say that I remember grabbing wrists way to tight & aggressively forcing time-outs, uggghhhh, if I could turn back time!)
- Hold-downs during tantrums (I swear some book told me to do this)
- Reversing locks on doors (this came back to bite us in the butt big time once, another GREAET story for another day!)
- Anxiety (How would I make it through each day with her & a colicky screaming newborn?)
- Frustration (All the fear, force & bribery was exhausting & wasn’t working)
- Irritation (She grated my nerves like NO other at that time)
- Hitting (So many friends & family members told me…you NEED to spank her or she’ll never learn)
- Blame (If she would just change, my whole life would be better)
- Sadness (How in the world was this my life? this wasn’t how it was supposed to be)
Yes, there were many many wonderful memories sewn throughout this time, but the hardship over discipline (and regrets about what we did)….stick out like monuments in my brain.
Not only was all this stuff not effective in making my strong-spirited little girl’s behavior better, it actually seemed to be making things WORSE!
I became the “bad guy”, I blamed her for making me the “bad guy”, and she pushed back even harder when I tightened my grip.
I started to REALLY dislike her and my husband started to really worry about me, about us, about our family.
We read every book known to man-kind to try and get ahold of her misbehavior & push back…with very little success…when FINALLY we stumbled about a local Positive Parenting Class.
Aha…THESE were concepts that resonated with our hearts & sure enough, when we started trying them out with our daughter, they WORKED!
The light returned to our day & we were able to see our strong & incredible little girl in a positive light again, we just needed a COMPLETE change of perspective and some SOLID new discipline tools!
Fast forward …. nearly 10 years later … my kids still have their days of pushback, moments of misbehavior, and times where big mistakes get made (they’re human of course), but misbehavior moments are far & few between these days.
AND … the big difference these days is that my husband and I are equipped with:
- a healthy perspective to see their misbehavior as communication
- a confidence that we CAN creatively & peacefully solve problems together as a family
- a full toolkit of compassionate, kind & firm discipline strategies that not only teach our KIDS major life lessons effectively but leave us feeling connected, confident & proud of our family at the end
My daughter, now at age 11, is one of the most responsible, hard working, self-reliant, kind, loving & awesome human beings on the planet…no joke, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think…wow…this kid is INCREDIBLE and doing GREAT things in her classroom, in her friendship group, in her band, in our family, in the world.
She’s still as fierce, strong & persistent as she ever was, but boy oh boy do we see that as a strength these days & feel confident that we can work WITH her through even the most challenging of moments to teach her about acceptable behavior, behavioral expectations, how to make amends and how all mistakes are incredible opportunities to learn.
It’s important that we start off with the right perspective when it comes to misbehavior as this is the ROOT of Positive Parenting Psychology as taught to us by Dr. Rudolph Dreikurs and lessons within the Foundations Course:
Misbehavior = Communication
When we see our kids as trying to communicate something to us vs. being bad when they misbehave….it becomes a lot easier to move towards faithful application of compassionate discipline strategies. As we solidify this paradigm shift, the ability to make our mission to TEACH vs. PUNISH becomes MUCH easier…so it’s essential that we see things in the right light.
- Teaching is rooted in education, empowerment & future behaviors
- Punishment is rooted in past mistakes, retribution, vengeance & payback
Discipline involves teaching & is our ticket to strengthening relationships with our children, even after mistakes are made & imperfection in behavior exists.
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