I so often hear parents complain of their relationship with their children and the reason being because they are the “disciplinarian” in the family.
My first question to them is: What does discipline mean to you?
The answers range from being strict, setting up rules, punishing, keeping them on a straight path through rigid means … but reality is, in order to better our relationships with our children and teach them what we believe are good values to hold growing up, we need to re-frame what discipline actually means.
The word “discipline” originates from the Latin word disciplina which means “instruction” and derives from the root discere which means “to learn.” The word discipulus which means “disciple or pupil“ also stems from this word.
Re-framing our understanding of discipline is key to better disciplining our children and is best described, and ought to be understood, as an external practice designed to bring about an internal change.
As per the definition above, learning and giving or receiving instructions are best achieved when we are able to connect and motivate the person we are seeking to “inform”.
What is true of the feedback of the many parents I meet is that wrongfully understood discipline as being controlling, does not work, in the long run anyway.
While it may work for a short while, parents who use controlling discipline will eventually be at the receiving end of the sad outcome of being disconnected from their children and loosing much hope of teaching them valuable information.
The best way to achieve positive results with your children, regardless of their age, is to understand that:
- You cannot control your children, but you have the ability to influence them in making better choices.
- You cannot accomplish to teach them well if you resort to making them feel bad in the process.
- Behaviour = Communication. Instead of punishing, blaming, criticising, complaining, nagging, threatening or bribing to control, connect with your child to address the behaviour and teach them better behaviours by supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting and negotiating differences.
The solution when facing having to “correct” your children is to ask yourself: Is what I’m about to do or say going to bring me closer or push me further apart from my child.
Happy Disciplining and remember to have Fun doing it.
If you would like to learn more about managing your children and the challenges of parenthood, contact us to enquire about our REALity Parenting programme which we can bring to your school.
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