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January 09, 2022
Changing the way we discipline our children to set us up for success.
I catch myself repeating the same set of instructions (rules, boundaries, well-meaning advice, insert-what-you-want-to-call-it) multiple times a day, each time getting increasingly exasperated. I sound like I have things under control, but both my child and I know I don’t. “There must be a better way” I think to myself very often, and then I found out about positive discipline.
By this time, I had already completed my Graduate Diploma in Positive Psychology and thought it would be worth giving Positive Discipline a shot. It was like Jane Nelson, psychologist and renowned Positive Discipline educator, was standing at the side lines, describing how conversations with my kids looked like. She succinctly painted the picture of parents starting out with the best intentions, but quickly worn out by the constant struggles with their child and I felt like she was talking about me – and I know I’m not alone. She too, was hopeful that a better way of disciplining and teaching children MUST exist, an antonym to bribes and threats and I’m thankful for it. Here’s what I learned:
1. Discipline doesn’t have to include yelling, nagging, threats or bribes
'Firm and kind’ is a concept that is pervasive throughout Positive Discipline and to put it simply, it is an effective way of establishing the boundaries, while offering empathy to your child. This has helped me cope especially with the flip-flopping between being permissive and then later feeling like I need to put my foot down to organise the chaos.
2. When in doubt, prioritise connection with your child
I feel like I’m not alone in this – parents tend to feel the need to correct misbehaviour as soon as possible, often times, almost immediately as it unfolds in front of us. Yet, Positive Discipline reminds us that almost none of the correction we do will sink in if we do not have connection with our child. It’s comforting to know that offering your child a hug after they’ve done something wrong doesn’t mean we’re ‘soft’ and that we’ve accepted the misbehaviour. What we are choosing is to help our child regulate and connect with us (trust us!!!) before we step in to correct the behaviour later on.
3. Don’t trade short term gains for long term goals
Bribes, threats, punishments all work. In fact, they work really well especially when you want to see an immediate change. The trouble is that it doesn’t foster long term self-discipline nor responsibility. The bribes, threats and punishments tend to have to keep getting bigger in order to be effective while teaching no real consequences except for those imposed by the parent (as opposed to logical consequences). Working with your child through the misbehaviour may seem more tedious initially but long term rewards far outweigh the short term gains.
For the first time in Singapore, I’ll be facilitating a parent workshop on introducing Positive Parenting at home. As a certified Positive Discipline parent educator who’s trained under Jane, she has personally provided guidance and support on how I can bring her workshops to parents here. Registration is open now for our 2022 February session – join us today!
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January 09, 2022