“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.” ~ L.R. Knost
For any parent who has experienced a two year old, they know that the words “no, stop and don’t” can start to feel like the only words we ever say to our children.
While these words are completely appropriate in certain circumstances, especially if our children are about to harm themselves or another person.
At some point or another, a conscious parent must ask themselves if these “disciplinary” words have a lasting impact on how our child approaches his outer world and whether these words are promoting functional cognitive development in them.
Simply put, are the disciplinary tactics we use empowering our children to learn from their mistakes?
As the evolution in consciousness grows more and more rapidly on this planet and is allowing us as human beings to become a more accepting, compassionate and kinder species as a whole, so are the tactics that “conscious” parents use to parent and lead their children with.
It is very common for those who are mostly operating from an unconscious place to use things like fear tactics, positions of power, or shame/humiliation as a means to get their child to act in the way they want them to.
And while these tactics may work short term in that particular moment, what they most likely are not doing is building a sense of confidence and trust inside of the mind of the child.
If the child is motivated to not do something because they are trying to avoid the pain of being punished or being humiliated then this not only promotes a sense of unworthiness (where the child thinks, “I must be ‘bad’ because that is how I am made to feel when I am only being myself”), but also insecurity (where the child thinks, “I am not trusted by my caregivers to make the ‘right’ decisions so that must mean I am not able or smart enough to do this on my own).
At the end of the day discipline should always be used in order to help the child not only stop making the same mistakes over and over but to also allow them to eventually begin to be able to assess consequences of their actions from a place of self-love rather than fear.
Below are five tips to consider when disciplining your child and empowering them to learn from their mistakes:
“Discipline is helping a child solve a problem. Punishment is making a child suffer for having a problem. To raise problem solvers, focus on solutions not retribution.” ~ L.R. Knost
It is no surprise that the memory of a one year old is vastly different than the memory of say, a seven year old, and this is precisely why disciplinary tactics must be age appropriate. What is completely doable by an older child may be a completely impossible fete by a toddler.
And of course every parent would be lying if they said it doesn’t often try our patience to tell our toddler, “no” to the same exact action he or she took only a couple minutes prior only for them to try once again a few minutes later, we must be willing to recognize when our impatience is disproportionate to what is age appropriate for our child.
Toddlers will need to be told things time and time again and that is ok. By using these times where we are aware that our frustration has gotten the best of us as opportunities to heal and transform unhealed emotions within our own selves, we will evolve into better and more peaceful parents in the long run.
2) Explain consequences from a teaching place
Every “mistake” our child makes can be a wonderful teaching tool for us to explain why we don’t want them to do something and more importantly why they shouldn’t want to do it either.
An unconscious parent may say something like, “because I said so” as an explanation when their child asks, “why”, but conscious parents use their child’s curiosity to empower the child.
If the child knows why things like finishing their homework on time, taking a bath or sharing their toys will actually benefit them in the long run they will be more apt to pick these things for themselves in the future because they will associate these things with honoring and taking care of themselves and ultimately being a happier and more functioning human being.
“Because I said so,” doesn’t really teach the child much other than because they are younger or smaller than us they have to listen to everything we tell them to do.
3) Use “preventative discipline”
Just like a good medical professional uses preventative medicine in order to promote healthy habits in their patients BEFORE a bigger health issue arises, a conscious parent uses preventative discipline to build their child’s self esteem and cognitive thinking up so that the child doesn’t need to act out in unsavory ways to get our attention.
When children are taught lessons before it’s too late, so to speak, they will know about consequences of their actions prior to making a wrong decision. And happy, confident children don’t generally act in ways that will harm themselves or others.
Just like in adults, when we are feeling good about ourselves and our lives we generally make choices that coincide with that feeling, but when we are feeling defeated or insecure about ourselves we often make choices that we are not proud of.
Subconscious belief systems are what generally guide our decision making, so when one feel unloved or unworthy of love they will only manifest situations that prove these beliefs to themselves over and over until they wake themselves up out of them.
By instilling worthiness in our children from early on, we create an invaluable subconscious belief systems that allows them to treat themselves with care and self-acceptance.
4) Don’t fight fire with fire
As adults we know that yelling and screaming are rarely effective communication tactics to use to get our point across so it should come as no shock that these things rarely work with our children either.
Often when we are so angry we may require to take a time out alone in order to reconnect with our breath or our thoughts so that we can come back and speak with our children from a calmer and consequently more impactful place.
Children thrive when their feelings and thoughts are being heard and respected by us, and if we learn to talk with them from a place where they can explain themselves while feeling safe doing it, this will promote healthy communication between us and them in the future.
When a child feels unsafe to speak their mind they will often resort to hiding things or keeping secrets in order to avoid being yelled at, and honestly can you blame them?
5) Cultivate trust and faith in them
The biggest and most important thing we can do for our children is treating them like we trust that they will make the right decision. And when the time comes that our child makes a decision that wasn’t in their best interest, we must allow the natural consequences to occur.
They’re not going to be perfect always, but at the end of the day how we treat them or speak to them when they are young will begin to be their own inner voice and guidance system. A child who is treated as though he is capable and trusted to make good decisions will live up to our expectations of them.
A child who is always treated as though they are not trusted or that they must fear the world because it is a scary place that they must protect themselves from will begin to approach their life as a whole from this perspective.