Isn’t this supposed to be simple? You just stop disciplining your children, and they thank you so much that they start acting like perfect angels.
Transitioning to calm and positive parenting becomes increasingly difficult as your child grows older. Your child has already developed a unique perspective on the world and a whole personality. He believes the sole incentive to “behave” is to avoid being penalized by losing a privilege, such as being grounded if that was the punishment that was happening so often. It takes time to teach your child to accept responsibility for his or her actions and figure out new ways of teaching lessons.
The first thing to understand about shifting to positive parenting is that it is not as simple as “removing punishment.” You begin by improving your relationship with your child so that he or she respects you and WISHES to obey your guidelines. It’s like they suddenly want to behave well because you’re nice to them.
I know you think you and your child have a nice relationship. That’s because you adore them and would go to great lengths to protect them. Consider your “relationship account’s” “bank balance.” To keep your account from going into the red, you need at least five good interactions for every bad interaction. If you want your child to follow your lead and be open to your influence, you’ll need a surplus.
How can you find a happy medium in your relationship? Not through purchasing items for your child. Not by allowing him to stay up late, watch more TV, or eat more sweets. Showing up means listening, being emotionally giving, retaining your sense of humour, and understanding in order to establish a healthy connection. When things are simple, you do this, and when things are difficult, you do this. You even do it while establishing and enforcing your boundaries.
Then think about how you’ll educate your child on the lessons you want them to learn. Grounding your child, taking away privileges, or punishing them with extra tasks are all ways to “teach a lesson.”
However, research (as well as common sense) shows that punishment leads to resentment and power struggles. Instead of feeling regret for what they did wrong and developing a plan for improvement (growth mindset) children get obsessed with the injustice of the punishment. Punishment erodes your bond with your child, reducing your power and making them LESS likely to follow your example.
There’s a more effective approach to teach your child the lessons you want them to remember:
- Our activities have an effect on the rest of the planet.
- We always have the option to select our own acts and are accountable for them.
- Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. It is our responsibility to fix things when we make a mistake.
- Cleaning up messes is typically more difficult than making a more responsible decision in the first place. We can’t undo certain things; we can only strive to make apologies.
- Doing the right thing takes guts. However, when we make responsible, thoughtful decisions, we become the type of person we admire and feel good about ourselves.
Punishment does not teach these concepts to children. When we assist children in reflecting on the consequences of their actions, they learn them. What was it going to cost them and others? We must also continuously encourage our children to make corrections when they make mistakes.
When they’re on the defensive, children’s, like most humans, are unable to honestly recognize faults and start rehabilitation. So, if we want our children to make better decisions in the future, we must improve our ability to communicate with them — and listen to them — as well as provide them with the assistance they need to achieve our expectations.
Teaching Lessons Without Grounding
Your child will feel secure engaging with you once he understands you’re on his side when you use empathy in parenting. Your children’s heart will harden toward you if he doesn’t feel safe, since he expects judgement and punishment, and you will have no effect. So simply tell him you need some time to ponder and gather your thoughts before discussing what occurred.
Children of all ages, especially teens, respond to that bond by being more receptive to your advice. If your child is afraid that you will be angry with her, she will go into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode, and learning will stop. She’s also more prone to deception. The only way to truly “teach a lesson” is to provide a safe environment through connection. To do so, keep in mind that your child acted in a certain way for a reason. You may not think that’s a good reason, but it is to her. You won’t be able to prevent a repeat if you don’t figure out why she did it.
Actively listen then give him a chance to speak. Only reflect to clarify and illustrate your comprehension:
- “So the guys really wanted you to play basketball, and it happened to be at the same time as the exam study session? That is a difficult decision.”
- “So you and your sister were angry with one another… you were so upset when she…. If someone had said that to me, I would have been angry as well….. and you really wanted to get back at her, huh?”
Get A Deep Understanding
That implies you must consider the scenario from their perspective in order to comprehend why they responded the way they did. You don’t have to agree; all you have to do is comprehend. This allows you to be more giving, allowing your kid to be less defensive and more open to admitting what she did, what inspired her, and the consequences of her decisions.
This also allows your child to deal with the emotion or need that prompted his behavior. Kids always know which option is the best, but something always gets in the way. What was it, exactly? How can he train himself to trust his better judgement?
Let’s assume he chose to play basketball with his buddies instead of attending the study session, and as a result, he failed his test. As you speak with him, you may discover that he is anxious about being accepted by the men and that he believes he needs to play basketball to be accepted. This social anxiety could be something he needs your support to sort out and manage, and once he does, he’ll be much better able to concentrate on his academics.
You would never have learned about it if you had merely punished him. You would have missed out on the chance to assist him in resolving his issue and finding a positive solution for the future. In fact, because punishment doesn’t seem to help him resolve his issue, he could do the same thing again, but this time make up a narrative to conceal his tracks.
Ask Questions (The Right Ones)
Maintain a safe and pleasant tone throughout the talk. You’ll relieve the tension and improve your relationship if you can share a chuckle, so remind yourself that this is a learning experience for both of you and summon your sense of humour.
- Was she aware that she was making a decision?
- What made her make that decision?
- So, how does she feel about it now? (“How did you get on with that?”)
- What were the advantages of that decision?
- What were the drawbacks of that decision?
- Was it all worthwhile?
- Was there a part of her that knew that decision was a poor one? If that’s the case, what stopped her from listening to that voice?
- Is she willing to do it again?
- Why do you think that is?
- How might she encourage herself to make a different decision next time?
- What kind of help would she prefer from you so that she may make a better decision next time?
Don’t Jump To Punishment
Using punishment, whether it is negative punishment or positive punishment should not be the answer. Instead, assist your child in devising a strategy to improve the situation. Rather than thinking you know what should happen next, explore and discover alongside your child. He feels remorseful after he is no longer dominated by that unfulfilled desire or distressing sensation, and he realizes the outcome of his behavior (failed test, wounded sister, broken window, etc.). Of course, this is only after the sensations or requirements have been handled. When they aren’t driving him, though, his “goodness” may shine through. He has a natural desire to improve things.
Empower The Child
Help your child think about not only how to fix what she’s “broken,” but also how to deal with the underlying issue that caused her to act out. This isn’t about punishing her, taking away her privileges, or telling her what awful things are going to happen to her. It’s about her learning that her actions have consequences and accepting responsibility for resolving the issue she was facing in a more positive manner. Because she isn’t on the defence, your child can genuinely accept responsibility if you don’t play the heavy.
In the case of a failed test, she may create a written chart concerning homework, sit with you every night to complete it, and ask the instructor for additional credit work to do. She may also need to turn off her phone for a set amount of hours each evening during homework time, which she is now motivated to do since she sees how her phone is preventing her from concentrating on her academics.
Is this a penalty? No way, if this is the idea she comes up with you. In fact, if you assist her in truly following through and partnering with her to achieve her objectives, you will be fully empowering her and will have the potential to alter her academic performance. Of course, she may not realize that this is what she needs to do in order to succeed. You may decide to provide this assistance to her on occasion, not as a punishment, but because it is your responsibility as a parent to provide the framework that will enable her to achieve.
If her wrong decision caused harm to her sister, the sister would be compensated. All children’s have conflicting feelings towards their siblings, but this indicates that there is attachment, comradeship, and even protectiveness there. “How can you re-establish your sister’s trust in you?”
Further Teaching If Needed
What if, despite your best efforts to listen and validate feelings, your child insists that he doesn’t care if he fails the exam and that his sister deserves what she got? He’s still defending himself. Let’s say “I understand what happened and why you took the decision you did. But that doesn’t guarantee your decision was a good one. I’m sure you’d feel differently if you weren’t so unhappy. Let’s take a break and come back to this later.”
Allow him some time to relax. Start with empathy as you reintroduce yourself to the world. That’s what allows him to get over his feelings. “I notice that you’re fed up with that teacher and that you’re considering dropping out of that class.” And perhaps by saying anything, model taking responsibility “Some of this, I believe, is my fault. I didn’t realize you were behind in class, otherwise, I would have offered to help you sooner.”
Set a clear expectation that he will need to make a repair and that you will assist him. Not confronting the issue will not make it go away, but you’ve seen him deal with difficult situations before, so you know he’ll be able to handle this one as well.
Be The Leader
In this circumstance, you, as the adult, have more authority than you realize. Even if she appears to be fighting it, your kid is reliant on your guidance. If she injures her sister, you’ll have a chance to handle the evident sibling rivalry. If she fails her test, it’s a good time to think about your family’s general educational priorities and how YOU can help your child handle it. When we provide enough support for our children using positive parenting, they generally rise to the level of our expectations. Some children simply require more assistance than others. Consider what sort of assistance might be beneficial and use authoritative parenting to teach your child important lessons.
If your child has disobeyed a family rule, you must emphasize that rule or set the limit.
- “Homework usually takes precedence over pleasure.”
- “When you’re angry, I expect you to inform your sister using your words. There will be no harming each other’s bodies.”
- Setting a boundary is a process that must be repeated again and over. Parents are frequently frustrated by this need for repetition and believe that punishing their children would help avoid future occurrences. However, addressing the fundamental reasons for the “misbehavior” is far more successful. If your child is having trouble adhering to your rules, think about what kind of help he or she might require to achieve your expectations.
Managing the children’s surroundings by establishing clear house rules and agreements is another type of “help” for children’s to achieve their expectations. Don’t give your child a phone until they can handle it, for example. Allow it to be turned on only for a few hours in the afternoon and evening when it won’t interfere with schoolwork, supper, or winding down before bed. To assist your kid to develop good habits, evaluate what texts and calls were made, as well as how much time the child spent on the phone, on a daily basis when the child first gets the phone.
If you find yourself having to go back and enforce rules because of a difficulty with schoolwork or screens, make it plain to your child that this is not a punishment. You didn’t realize what structure they needed to succeed before, but now you do, and you’re going to help them out by putting that structure on your family. They may not like it, and you will listen to their dissatisfaction and empathize with them, but it does not imply you will bend your rules. Your child can petition you for a change if they’ve formed new habits that will help them fulfil your goals and demonstrated their capacity to be responsible.
The consequences of your children’s misbehavior might sometimes extend beyond the family. He was discovered cheating in class, partying with his friends, or causing a vehicle accident. Refrain from rescuing him from the repercussions of his behavior and allow the consequences to occur naturally. If you do, he will take no action as a result of the event. That’s a set-up for him to repeat the behavior that got him into this situation in the first place (or worse). Instead, pay attention to him, empathize with him, and completely adore him. But make it plain that he will be held accountable for his actions. If failing a class at school or trying to fix the automobile and not being able to drive it is the natural result of his actions, then so be it. It would be far better for him to go through the agony now and learn something.
Lessons Take Time To Sink In
A move from punitive to positive parenting, like any other transition, will need both of you to learn the new territory. That implies you’ll have to alter your approach to violations. You’ll notice that your capacity to self-regulate has an influence on your child and that your emotional generosity keeps them linked. You’ll see that your previous behaviors didn’t allow your child to be their best self. There is no remorse or blame. As parents, we all try our hardest.
However, be prepared for a period of change. If you punished your child, he or she obeyed out of fear. She will quit obeying once you stop disciplining her. So, first and foremost, you must restore your connection so that she WISHES to collaborate with you and does not want to disappoint you. She’ll merely break your rules if you don’t intervene.
Empathy is a vital aspect of connecting, even when you’re setting boundaries. “You must be so unhappy to speak to me that way… What’s going on?” “You must be so disturbed to speak to me that way… What’s going on?” Continue to be sympathetic. Feelings of anger are welcome. The more security you can give, the sooner your child will open up about what’s truly upsetting them. Your child will be a lot more receptive to bonding once they’ve expressed all of those uncomfortable sentiments they’ve been carrying around. They’ll know you’re on their side since you’ve remained sympathetic, and they’ll be more inclined to follow through on your commitments. They’ll even begin to appreciate your patience!
You don’t need to declare that you’ve “stopped punishing,” as you can see. You, on the other hand, self-regulate. You make a connection. You begin to listen and ask thoughtful questions that encourage your child to ponder. You establish the expectation that your child will need to fix something. If they inquire as to what happened to your previous strategy, you may just respond “I believe you will get a lot more knowledge from this. What are your thoughts?”
The difficult part is altering your personal behaviors, but you’ll notice great results fast, giving you the motivation to keep going. Don’t be concerned about altering your children’s minds. They will change if you change.