Discipline Not Punishment

Punishment is about controlling or regulating a child’s behavior through fear.

Through no fault of our own, we parents often use punitive measures to discipline our children however the lesson the parent tries to impart  is always ineffective.

The ‘naughty step’ teaches a child to be afraid and feel isolated and resentful.

Messages such as “That’s it! I have had enough! Don’t ever let me catch you doing that again!” Teaches a child not to get caught doing that ‘thing’ again.

Slapping, hitting or spanking teaches a child to be aggressive and use to violence to get their own way.

Depriving a child of something they love can teach a child to believe life is unfair and people are too.

Discipline helps a child to become responsible for their actions and behaviours while feeling safe and loved.

The best and most effective approach is to encourage cooperation which at the same will help brain development and help your child grow cognitively. Use respect, connection, kindness and understanding and you will notice a difference in your child’s behaviour. Your child’s brain will build emotional and social skills.

So, try this approach instead

1. Connect

2. Make sure your  eye level is below your child’s eye level (feels much less threatening)

3. Use an even, steady tone (afford respect). If you feel annoyed or angry don’t connect just yet. Allow yourself to calm down first.

 4.  Validate!  A child’s point of view is important and it is important to validate their feelings. You need to guide your child so they can learn to understand their feelings and moderate their behaviour. They will cooperate if they love, support and respect from you.

Say something like ” I understand you felt frustrated/hurt/sad/powerless/ when I said you couldn’t have xxx or when ‘so and so’ called you a horrible name’ It’s ok to feel like that… I would too! Give me a hug.” Get hug…when it feels right, say “so next time when you feel angry, what can you do instead of hitting/shouting? “

Try to let your child find a strategy that he feels comfortable with, may be help him to do so (I could use my superpowers/ I could count to 5 before I do anything)  [Big warm, affectionate smile from you] … now let’s both of us find our calm/happy superpowers and grow them as big as the room!!! or “well done, that would be so good when you do that instead”

4.    Resist the temptation to explain. Children under the age of 7 cannot process rationally the way adults can and therefore by explaining things (“you have to behave like this because xxx and then xxx!) It just causes confusion and makes the child disengage! Instead only describe what you saw (“Gemma didn’t like it when you snatched her pencil case did she?”)

Why it works. 
When we feel frightend and misunderstood it is lonely and scary world and we react in ways that feeds our needs but not always in a nourishing way. Punishment and withdrawal of privileges serves to  make the child feel resentful and angry and unloved. What we need to do is teach our children the right things to do by being that role model, being kind considerate and understanding. 
As a parent we can meet our child’s needs through understanding empathy and compassion. ” I really know that you want to take you ipad away with you and I understand how much you like playing on it but there is a huge risk it you will leave it there by accident or it will get broken by someone else and we don’t want that to happen. I want to be sure you can keep your Ipad safe”

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