To Discipline, To Teach

NPN RTD featureThis post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

Discipline. What does it mean? When speaking of one’s self, discipline means having control over one’s self in order to act in a way you feel is appropriate. Maybe that means not saying the first thing that pops into your mind to the rude lady at the supermarket or perhaps it means ignoring the siren song of that chocolately, ooey, gooey brownie down in the kitchen.

Photo by Sean DreilingerWhen it comes to talking about raising our children, discipline literally means to teach. When our kids screw up, and they will just as we have countless times, it is our job to help them learn to do better. When our children were babies and learning to crawl or walk, we didn’t punish them when they weren’t able to do so. We understood that they would get there when they were ready. We encouraged them. We helped pick them up when they fell down. We lent a hand when they were wobbly-kneed and trying to make it across the room. We didn’t yell or hit or threaten or lecture. We loved them and were there for them.

When our children are trying to learn something new, whether it is reading, multiplication, or a foreign language, we understand that it takes time to fully grasp the concepts. We encourage them. We answer questions. When they get something wrong, we help walk them through the problem so that they know how to do it the correct way. We don’t ground them or punish them in some other way because we don’t help people learn to do better by making them feel bad.

Fundamentally, we understand that these are the things we need to do in order to help them learn. This is what disciplining our children is all about. We want to be there for them to help them learn, because that is our ultimate goal. So when they make mistakes, we should ask ourselves what we want them to do differently next time. Then ask yourselves what you can do to help them to learn to do things better.

By helping them walk through the process, we help build those neural connections and help them build the skills needed to respond better next time. As they learn these skills, they will be better prepared to handle future situations, with or without an authority figure present.

Proactive Parenting: Preventing the Melt-Down

NPN RTD feature

This post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

 

Photo by John Williams (FLCKR)

Photo by John Williams (FLCKR)

Think of some time when you were stressed out. Work was crazy, with deadlines looming over you. Your boss was on your back. The information or supplies you needed in order to finish your project weren’t available.  Everything was going wrong. You hadn’t been sleeping well, and your lunch was still sitting there because you were called in to a meeting rather than getting five minutes to eat. You were feeling frazzled. Then, when you got home, your safe spot in the sea of craziness, you realized that the house was a mess. After your crazy day, you couldn’t even relax but had to clean up after other people.

It doesn’t matter why or how your stress may have been caused in your personal scenario. When we are stressed out, for whatever reason, we aren’t functioning at our best. The same is true for our children.

In their book, No Drama Discipline, the authors share their key phrase HALT. When your child is feeling out of sorts, are they Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? It is a good way to remember to stop yourself (HALT) and ask what is going on. Even if we don’t readily see it, there is always a reason for the your child is acting. By recognizing that, we can often avoid melt-downs before they begin.

Your Brain on Discipline at Natural Parents Network

NPN RTD featureThis post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

This week at Natural Parents Network, our volunteers are discussing Your Brain on Discipline from the book No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. Hop on over and read about what they have to say about how your child’s brain is developing, the three brain C’s, how you can use your knowledge about how the brain works to appeal to your child when helping them through situations, and for some resources to help you tame your own reactions.

Are you tired of the drama going on in your family? Are you looking for more peaceful solutions? Pick up a copy of No Drama Discipline and join us over the next few months as we talk about what is going on in your child’s brain and how you can learn to connect with your child, help them to learn, and leave the drama behind.

Poking the Lizard: Why You Should Strive to Work with Your Children and Stop Fighting with Them

NPN RTD feature

This post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

 

 

Punishment doesn’t work. Long term, studies show that punishments such as hitting, yelling, time outs, or even the reverse of a reward don’t work long-term. Fear and threat based parenting is dependent upon extrinsic motivators. Those extrinsic motivators won’t always be there or may loose appeal over time, and they don’t teach our children what to do.

Flickr (gautsch)

Flickr (gautsch)

While these techniques might sometimes show short-term effectiveness, when we look at how the brain functions, we realize that nothing good comes from reactionary parenting. Parenting with threats, whether implied or implicit, results in what the authors of No Drama Discipline refer to as poking the lizard. This phrase references the differences between what the authors simply refer to as the Upstairs and Downstairs Brains.

The Downstairs Brain, which includes the brainstem and limbic region, is sometimes referred to as either the reptilian brain or the old mammalian brain. It controls basic functions, including those for strong emotions, instincts such as protecting ourselves or our young, and bodily systems and cycles. The Upstairs Brain allows for more sophisticated and complex thought. This area is undeveloped at birth and takes time to develop as we grow. It is used in decision making and planning, regulation of our emotions and actions, personal insight, empathy toward others, adaptability, and morality.

At the times that our children are melting down, acting out, or otherwise at a loss, they are using their Downstairs, or Reptilian, Brain. They aren’t capable of rational thought at that point. Subconsciously, it is an issue of survival, one in which they must use either fight or flight. Any view of threat just increases that reaction in them. It is a basic brain function.

When we encounter a situation with our children, we have a choice to make. We can work with them, guiding them through the situation, engaging their Upstairs Brain. A person can’t be both reactive and responsive/receptive at the same time; so when we nurture empathy, remain open to them via collaboration and discussion, show active listening and work with them, we help them with thoughtful contemplation and conflict resolution, networking neurons which will help now and in the future. Work on holding your own lizard at bay and engage in the rational thinking you want your child to exhibit. Otherwise, if we choose to react ourselves, whether through hitting, yelling, punishing, or even with our tone, we are merely poking the lizard. 

ReTHINKing Discipline at Natural Parents Network

NPN RTD featureThis post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

This week at Natural Parents Network, our volunteers are discussing ReTHINKing Discipline from the book No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. Hop on over and read about what they have to say about the true goals of discipline and rethinking how we approach parenting with our children. Learn how to separate yourself from the situation and use some of the very same skills we want our children to use.

Are you tired of the drama going on in your family? Are you looking for more peaceful solutions? Pick up a copy of No Drama Discipline and join us over the next few months as we talk about what is going on in your child’s brain and how you can learn to connect with your child, help them to learn, and leave the drama behind.

Parenting: What To Do or Not to Do

NPN RTD featureThis post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.

 

Articles and online threads regarding gentle parenting often find themselves subject to a frantic cry from parents who want to do better but don’t know how. “How?” they ask. “You tell us what not to do, but what is it that we should do?”  This is a valid question. If someone was trying to teach you to use a computer and only told you what not to do, it would be difficult for you to figure out what exactly it was . Imagine going to orientation for a new job and only being told what not to do. It would be frustrating at the very least. You might feel like screaming, or crying, or just flat out giving up.

Now imagine a similar scenario except as a child. In families that use punishments, you often find a similar situation, times one hundred. “Don’t hit your brother.” “Stop leaving you stuff all over the house?” While you may be frustrated at work, at the end of the day you get to go home and take a break. If the situation is really bad, you might request a change or even decide to leave and find a better job. But what if you didn’t have any recourse? A child doesn’t have those possibilities. Home is supposed to be their safe place. If all, or even a significant amount of, what they hear is what not to do, they aren’t learning what they should do.

Parents may say that punishments are set up to help children learn responsibility and to do better, but the truth is that punishment is set up to make child feel bad. Punishment, whether hitting (i.e.spanking), time-outs, or grounding, is the easy road for parents. They can feel like they did something while putting very little effort into the situation. Your child hits her brother? Punishment. He forgets to take the dog out? Punishment. She got home later than the agreed upon time, left his homework at home, didn’t take the trash out, questioned an adult, wanted a different pair of pants than you wanted to buy, chose his words poorly, and on and on. Frankly, when you are a child living in such a world, everything you do is subject to judgment and punishment. And you thought the work scenario was bad.

Kids are going to screw up. We, adults, aren’t perfect, either. We screw up quite a bit. Kids haven’t even had the same opportunities we have in order to learn how they should be handling all of these situations. And yet, many adults, parents included, expect kids to be able to handle everything perfectly. It is bad news for the kids who don’t have everything figured out yet. In this punishment mindset, we can just hope they figure it out for next time.

Right about now, you may be thinking to yourself that I still haven’t told you what to do, You would be right, and there is a reason for that. Every situation is different. Every person is different. While punishment takes a one-size-fits-all attitude, life isn’t like that, though. I can’t tell you what you should do in any given situation, because I am not there. I am not you. I don’t know your child or the background. There isn’t one thing you should do.

So, how do you know what to do then? You have to think about it. Sometimes you have to put yourself in your child’s place. Ask yourself why they did what they did (there is always, always a reason behind why a person does something, even if they, themselves, don’t know it). Talk with your children. Listen to them. Work with them. Connect with them. Help them to figure out a better way to do whatever it is. I won’t lie. It is not always easy, especially when you are first starting out and especially if you grew up with the authoritarian mindset. But you know what? No one ever said parenting was easy. But it is definitely worth it.

Hitting Out of Fear

 Today is National Spank Out Day, I’m sad to say. In a society where we speak out against the hitting of women, against the hitting of racial minorities, against the hitting of animals, against the hitting and bullying of anyone, there are still a large number of people who think hitting children is perfectly acceptable or even necessary. It boggles my mind.

The thing is, parenting can be scary. We go through pregnancy with the child secure inside its mother’s womb, and then suddenly this little person is on the outside, completely dependent upon….us. Children depend on us for food, shelter, warmth, guidance, and love. It’s a lot to take on. The fact is that while some people who hit their kids really don’t care, most of the parents hitting their children actually love them and do so because they are afraid.

They are afraid….

  • that by not hitting their kids, society will deem them unfit parents.
  • that their children won’t respect them.
  • that their children will be hurt even worse.
  • of losing control.
  • of the pressures of life.
  • of not knowing what to do.
It’s a scary world out there, full of unknowns, but when it comes to parenting, you don’t have to be afraid! Your children come into this world knowing only you. You are everything to them. They look up to you. They love you. They just want to spend time with you and learn with and from you.
Forget about what other people might think. The only people who matter are your kids. Besides, haven’t you heard that you shouldn’t jump off a bridge just because your friends did?
You won’t gain respect by hitting someone. In fact, you will lose it. Hitting a person, especially a smaller person, in order to control them is called bullying.
Hurting your child will not protect them in the future. Helping them navigate life and giving them tools and techniques to deal with life’s situations will.
There are a lot of things in life you can’t control, and that includes other people. Accept it. Deal with it if you need to, and then help your children to learn to control themselves.
Life can be rough, but that idea that your kids are born loving you? Still there. Come home to your kids and remember that no matter how bad life gets, they love you.
If you don’t know what to do, don’t resort to violence. Learn a new way. Learn how to help your children navigate that allowing your hurt to rule your actions.
In the end, no matter why some parents hit, they still make that choice. With every day and every situation, you have the opportunity to choose not  to hit. Your children love you. Live up to that love. Be deserving of the respect they want to show you. Be deserving of the love they freely give.

 photo credit: dhammza via photopin cc

Dealing with Whining Compassionately

Welcome to the April 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Peaceful Parenting Applied

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children.  We hope you enjoy this month’s posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Peaceful Parenting Applied.

***


Chances are, at some point or another, that tone has come out of your childrens’ mouths. You know the one. It’s the whine that grates on your nerves, making you want to pull your head inside your shirt, cover your ears with your hands, or leave. If you don’t deal with the whine, it just gets longer and louder and more, well, whiney. While you may find yourself wanting to walk outside and scream yourself, there are a few easy tips to keep gentle parents gentle at these times.

Don’t take it personally. This may be easier said than done, especially if the whine continues to include your name. Personally, when I begin to hear the “Moooooooom,” it takes on an entirely new level for me. As much as we may feel disrespected or underappreciated during these times, our children’s behaviors are not about us.

Define the cause. If the whining isn’t about us, what exactly is it about? That is the question of your day. You can’t begin to solve a problem if you don’t know what the problem is. Observe the situation. Think about what may be causing this seemingly annoying behavior, and set about making some changes. I know for my kids, whining signals that they are tired. We need to slow down, cut out some things, go for some quiet, easy going activities.

Connect with your kids. Yes, your child is whining and the last thing you may feel like is being around them, but when your children are exhibiting behaviors such as this, it’s a cry for help. They need you. Take a deep breath. Remember how much you love your children, and be there for them. Perhaps doing something with your child will be enough to break them out of their whining ways.

Actively listen. Everyone has bad days sometimes, and often we just need to have someone listen to us on those days. This is a great time to practice active listening so that your children understand that you ar ethere for them and that you really are listening.

Set personal limits for yourself. It’s okay to say that you are reaching your limit and that you would prefer to be spoken to in a normal voice. If you are having difficulty understanding because of the whining, explain that you can’t understand what your child is saying and that you need to know what they are saying in order to help.

Use play and humor. Try bringing a little levity to the situation by playing or using humor. When our children’s voices begin to take on that whining tinge, my husband has a difficult time understanding them. His go to phrase is “Hmmm. I couldn’t really understand what you said, but it kind of sounded like, ‘Daddy, you are the greatest!'” It hasn’t failed him yet. They will either laugh or take a deep breath to speak clearly.

Take control of your actions and words. As much as the whining may be driving us a little batty, we are still in control of our own actions. We get to choose how we act or react.

Remeber compassion. At the end of the day, think about the relationship you have with your kids. Every parent/child relationship is just taht – a relationship. remember to have compassion, both for your children and for yourself.

photo credit: polywen via photopin cc

***

APBC - Authentic ParentingVisit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month’s Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, when we discuss self-love!

 

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

 

Do you have blog posts about peaceful parenting or are you looking for some tips? This month, Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children are hosting an Authentic Parenting: Peaceful Parenting Applied link up! Check it out and help build a resource for parents striving to parent more peacefully.

Conflict as Opportunity

I’m happy to share a guest post with you today. Kassandra Brown of Parent Coaching speaks of how conflict can be an opportunity. In addition to sharing her thoughts here concerning how we can turn conflict into a way to both connect and better understand our children and ourselves, Kassandra has a special coaching offer for readers. She is willing to offer three free coaching sessions to the first person who asks. Consultations are always free. If you are looking for a way to change how you communicate and interact with your children, she is willing to help.

*******************************************************************

When children disobey parents, parents are often told – by experts and other parents – that a Time Out is the solution. We’re told that our children need consequences. We’re told it’s a good idea, and it will give them time to think about what they’ve done. We’re told if we’re not firm, then we’re permissive and our children will never know discipline.

togetherYet here at Parent Coaching, we have a different opinion. Abandonment is one of the biggest punishments known through human history. To be kicked out of the tribe and made to be away from the protection of the rest of the group is an awful, sometimes fatal, punishment. This is the premise that Time Out is based on. If the fear of being isolated, alone, and ostracized is great enough, then a child will learn whatever rules parents or society say are ‘right’.

Leaving baby alone to cry in a crib, or sending a toddler or older child away in disgrace for a time-out can seem like you’re not doing anything much and it may be better than spanking or hitting. But it is not harmless. It is psychological warfare and adults are much better at it than children. We use the power of more words, longer sentences, and more complex arrangements of our thoughts and feelings into ideas that manipulate better and make isolation sound just. No wonder our children stop listening and pull out big hammers like “I hate you” when they don’t get their way.

I believe most parents want their children to be happy and safe. I believe most parents want to be happy and safe themselves. And I believe the biggest obstacle to being more effective and compassionate with our children is our own unfelt pain. For me, this happens when the unmet needs, the old hurts, and the developmental sequencing that never happened get stimulated by my child’s needs. I don’t like these old hurts being stimulated and I want to make the stimulation stop. My child’s crying, whining, and wailing pleas are the stimulation. If I send my child away the stimulation will stop. Making the parent’s pain stop is another part of the foundation on which Time Out rests.

What can we do instead? Try a Time In. When conflict happens, welcome your own feelings and your child’s feelings by gathering together. Our family often sits on the couch for a Time In. We sit together. Often my children don’t want to come and sit. They still want whatever it is they want – the game, food, or activity that stimulated their longing and that they think will satisfy them. But if I sit quietly, or my husband and I sit together quietly, eventually the girls come over and sit with us.

Once we’re fairly quiet, we take turns talking about how we’re feeling, what we want, and what we just did. I often use reflective listening to let my children and spouse know they are heard and to get clear on what they really wanted me to hear. A Time In is a time to come together and acknowledge the pain we’re feeling when one of us cries or yells. It is a time to share what each of us needs and wants. It is a time that often leads to more feelings of trust and safety in our family. It is not a magic cure-all, but sometimes it feels like one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Kassandra Brown is a mother, parenting coach, yoga teacher, and friend. She recently moved with her family to a rural ecovillage in Missouri where they are creating a life of radical sustainability and emotional honesty. Three free teleconferencing calls introducing parent coaching will be happening with her this September. You’re invited! Read more of her writing at Parent Coaching’s Blog or connect with her on Facebook.

Life Isn’t One Size Fits All

"i'm papa" - wearing my shoes - _MG_7117

Photo by Sean Dreilinger

One of the biggest hang-ups about consensual living I hear from parents is that there is no cut and dry answer. There isn’t a pre-set formula which says that the child did X so the parent must do Y. Differing from traditional authoritarian parenting, when an infraction by the child must result in a punishment by the parent, consensual living challenges the parent to observe what happened, communicate with the child, and work with the child to find a solution which is acceptable to all. For those of us who grew up with traditional American dogma concerning the treatment of children, it can be a siwtch in thinking. I can’t remember how many times a parent has come to me, told me about a particular situation, and then asked me what they should do. Walking the parent through this new way of thinking generally begins with me asking the person to start out by asking “Why?” We always have a reason for doing the things that we do, even when we don’t conciously recognize them. If you have a problem, you have to decipher the root cause in order to rectify it. Slapping on a band-aid, or punishment, is not going to address the root cause of the problem. It’s not going to fix anything. What may work in one situation with its own unique set of variables won’t necessarily work in another. The same is true with our relationships, regardless of whether they are relationships with another adult or someone who has yet to reach the age of majority. Life isn’t one size fits all, and we shouldn’t expect parenting or our relationships with our children to be, either. However, wokring to find amicable solutions with these wonderful people we are privileged to know is rewarding beyond measure.


 

Please join us all week, June 25-June30, 2012, as we explore the world of gentle, effective parenting. We have new posts each day by talented authors providing us with insight into why gentle parenting is worth your time and how to implement it on a daily basis. Check out all the carnival posts over on ParentingGently.com

We are also giving away several parenting book and other goodies from our sponsors this week. Please stop by and enter to win!

This year’s beautiful motherhood artwork is by Patchwork Family Art. Visit the store to see all her work.