Discipline helps provide children with the tools they need to navigate through the ups and downs of life and prepare them for their future independence.
I’m excited to share a few excerpts from Lynda Satre’s new book Parenting Sensibly: Turning Messes Into Successes. Drawing on more than 26 years knowledge from raising 10 children (including 2 sets of twins!), Lynda shares her deep insights to help navigate the daily struggles of parenting. Parenting Sensibly takes cues from the positive parenting approach with an attempt to strengthen family relationships, reduce stress, and provide parents with tools to guide their children from toddlerhood to adulthood.
The following excerpts are from the chapter “Discipline Versus Punishment: How to Tell The Difference (And Why It Matters)”
We discipline our children because we love them
Today, it’s common for many parents to want to be their child’s friend. To show love, they give their child everything the child wants and to avoid doing or saying anything that makes the child unhappy. The outcome of this style of parenting, however, is less than desirable: Often, the child can become self-centered, unappreciative, and lacking in respect.
I believe that these parents truly love their children, but they are missing a key element in their parenting that children need: discipline. Children are looking to us for guidance on how to navigate through the ups and downs of life and prepare them for their future independence. The attitude should be: I discipline my children because I love them.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are parents who focus primarily on obedience through punishment. On the surface, these children submit to fear, but the relationship between the parent and child suffers. The focus needs to shift to discipline and training, not punishing, and be more balanced by love.
So how do we train/discipline?
The 4 Cs
Communicate – Use clear communication to discuss expectations.
Coach – We should view ourselves as our children’s life coach, encouraging, teaching, and guiding them, so when they leave our homes at 18, they will have the skills needed to navigate life independently. In this step, provide teaching and training on whatever you expect your child to do.
Consequence – There are consequences for any choice we make, positive or negative.
Connection – Apologies and forgiveness provide an opportunity for reconciliation and to restore our connection with our child.
Never discipline your child for something you haven’t already taught them…this was something that I had never thought about. It forced me to think about the many situations in which I had reacted to something my children did that was wrong and it made me realize how many of those situations occurred even though I had never previously shown my children what was right.
Can you think about a time when you made an error and did something that you truly didn’t know was wrong and someone reacted strongly? It makes you feel terrible; if you had just known about it, you could have avoided the situation altogether. How can we expect our children to just “know” how and what to do? They are looking to us to train and guide them.
Coaching provides an opportunity to work with your child…Depending on the age of the child, you may have to stay in the coaching mode for several days until they learn how to do it. This works even with a young child; just make it a fun game. After you have done the instructing, give your child an opportunity to test the waters…
A child needs a consequence when he or she knows your expectations but doesn’t follow them. The goal is to alter or adjust the child’s behavior by taking action, which encourages him to follow the prior instructions the next time.
Expect your child to test the boundaries! He will see if you really mean what you say, especially if you haven’t consistently followed through in the past. Here is where the testing comes into play…
The important final step is connection. This is where reconciliation occurs and your relationship is restored. I have found that there are times when the consequence occurs, but the child was fully aware it would happen and they just accept it. Other times, the child is very upset. It is very important to have this final step of connection when the child calms down. You can discuss the situation, what was supposed to happen, and what the child did to receive the consequence…it is important that you coach him through this reconciliation process. Kids don’t automatically know how this works until you do so…
The concept of the 4 Cs is applicable for all ages. As our children become teens and grow and mature, responsibility and accountability change. We need to loosen the reins and allow our children to take some test flights so that when they leave, they are prepared.
About the Author
Lynda Satre is a mother of 10 children including a set of fraternal twins and a set of identical twins. She is a former pediatric RN, who has experienced having children in her 20’s 30’s and 40’s. For the past five years, she has transformed families through her local parenting class. Her mission is to help others by sharing wisdom acquired while navigating this imperfect, but wonderful parenting journey.