Discipline That Works!

 

Discipline is about guiding your child so they can grow up and be a wonderful adult.

Think for a moment about what you what your child to be like when they grow up. What qualities would you like them to have?

 

Now, erase that picture. It is not that that picture in your mind doesn’t count; absolutely it does.  You are the parent, you are the loving authority in your family.  It is just that children bring with them their own unique gifts, unique qualities.  They bring things you could never anticipate nor plan for.  They have as much to teach you and probably more than you have to teach them.  So, the impression of what you want to bring them will stay on the paper as it was erased, but something more important is being drawn over this…

 

That doesn’t mean that we throw up our hands at what our child brings to us, we don’t and cannot abdicate our responsibility in teaching and guiding,  but it does mean that we keep our respect for the child alive and well throughout the process.  It means we keep our sense of humor, and it means we keep our sense of love and warmth.  It especially means, I think and in my personal style of parenting, that we also look for BALANCE for our children and try to introduce balance to them – in their personalities and temperaments, in their passions and interests.  It also means we give them a solid foundation:  they can choose to steer their canoe a different way when they are older, but for right now, we help them along the rocky shoals by giving them the basics of our own family culture, our own spirituality, our own boundaries.

 

If you are feeling lost lately with being positive with your children and guiding your children well, take a deep breath.

 

Remind yourself that this is the heart of parenting, and that keeping yourself calm and ho-hum is the first step toward being able to connect with your child in the moment.  Guard what comes out of your mouth!  You cannot take those words back!

 

A child’s actions do have consequence, all of it does have import, and it does carry responsibility.  Make sure you are not hindering the possibility of your child learning how to be a responsible member of your family and of society by imposing inconsistent, unfair, unclear and emotionally-driven punishment as opposed to moments of consistent, fair, clear and calm direction.  Ho-hum.

 

Make sure your expectations are realistic. Know you are going to have to say the same thing 500 times, and that you will have to be physically by their side to make sure what needs to happen actually happens.  That is parenting. 

 

Parenting is loving and connecting, but it also having boundaries and teaching your child practical things to make life worth living.  I have found in observing my own children and many other children, yes, some behaviors children do grow “out of” but many things stick there until the parent takes charge and helps the child change the behavior.  Do not be afraid of this, this is part of parenting as well.

 

Be confident, clear and calm.  Be the authority and step up and be the parent.  Love your child enough to do this for him or her.

 

Blessings,
Carrie

Preferred Parent Of The Week

This is the term my husband and I used frequently when our older children were smaller:  preferred parent of the week.  You are probably familiar with this phenomenon if you too  have small children whose temperaments are not so laid back…”no, no, MAMA DO!”  or “I don’t want you!! I waaaaannnnntttt Daaaaddddyyy!!”

I honestly wonder, in those of you with big families, does this occur much past the third child?  It seems to me, by necessity, that the youngest members of the family often get used to older brothers and sisters helping out, and the flexibility that develops from that precludes the “Preferred Parent Of The Week” syndrome.  I would love to hear from you if you have a comment on that!

Parents always want to know how to handle this.  In our family, we didn’t argue about this for the sake of arguing (“No, you must have Daddy put your fork on the table!”) for small things, but there were certainly times when a child’s desires could not be accommodated.  Mama had the wailing baby, so yes, little four year old, Daddy will have to give the bath.  And yes, there would be wailing.  But Daddy is a parent too.

It can be hard for parents going through this for the first time to  not feel baffled and hurt, especially fathers.  One has to carry on in good humor, this is a small child!  They say all kinds of things and have all kinds of feelings!  Once fathers realize this can be a very normal phase, I think many of them can sort of shore themselves up and not take it so personally.  Whenever our children would go through that, we would just look at it other and shrug, “Guess you’re PPW this week!”

It is important to have a good sense of humor about the whole thing and also a very matter-of-fact, less words, less explaining kind of manner when things are not going the way the child wants.

I have a very astute friend who pointed out that if Dad is never on the “preferred list” for baths, ouchies, bedtime, etc that she wondered if the father and child were doing anything positive through play at all first.  It is hard to expect the child to want Dad during those tired, hungry, hurt and whiny kind of times if the child and father have no positive bond together during happy times.  There should always be time in the family schedule for FUN, with BOTH parents. Build on a happy platform of play as a foundation!

I would love to hear your experiences with “PPW”.

Blessings,
Carrie

Discipline: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture

 

Discipline is our seventh facet of a healthy family culture.  Discipline, to me, boils down to nothing less than how you guide your child or children toward becoming a mature and healthy adult. Discipline requires authenticity, yes, but also a steadiness and platform of patience and evenness, and an understanding of children’s development and the best tools to use when.  The tools of discipline, to me, differ based on the developmental stage of the child.

 

 Being An Authentic Leader – This is one of the very first posts I ever wrote on this blog:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/16/gentle-discipline-as-authentic-leadership/

 

The first ingredient is of course, you.  Your views, your steadiness, and yes, your family culture obviously influence things.  And no, I don’t think you need to be this completely calm mother who walks around like she in a valium-induced haze.  I know loads of mothers who have incredible energy!  I do think, though, that there has to be a steadiness of not being completely overwhelmed and frustrated.  And that, to be honest, can be really difficult when children are very small.  And teenagers also take a lot of energy!

 

The qualities I think about most in my own mothering were the ones I described in the series “20 Days Toward More Mindful Mothering”.  Some of my long-term readers might remember that series.  Cultivating these qualities is what inner work and personal development is all about.  You can see those posts here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/category/general-wisdom/20-days-toward-more-mindful-mothering/

 

How Do You View Children and Childhood?  Much of this boils down to what you think about children. Do you think they are miniature adults with less experience just waiting to be filled up with knowledge?  Do you think the consciousness of the child and the rationality of the child is the same as the adult?  Many times we would point to teenagers, and laugh, and say, oh no of course a teenager is not as rational as an adult, but yet we parent them by talking them to death and expecting them to come to the same conclusions that a forty-three year old adult would in the same situation.  They might, but they might not!  Smile

 

I often think of the ages of birth through seven being a time of doing, the time of age seven through age fourteen of being the time of strong feelings, and the time of age fourteen through age twenty-one being when rational thought is being developed.  To me, childhood ends around the age of twenty-one.

 

If we concur that development does take time, that children of different ages actually are different in the way that they think and respond to things, then we can look at tools and expectations based upon development.

 

However, the one thing that remains steady through all of these ages is CONNECTION and ATTACHMENT.  You cannot parent without this.  Please do go back and read the posts that summarize the wonderful book “Hold On To Your Kids:  Why Parents Need To Matter More Than Peers”.  Connection is the number one way to discipline a child. 

 

Discipline Tools – So, for me, the methods and tools of discipline looks a bit different dependent upon the child’s age.  I have written many, many, many posts on this.

 

In a brief nutshell, for  the ages birth to seven, your discipline techniques really involves slowing down.  Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm, and slowing down really sets the tone for what happens. Small children should be involved in meaningful work, and plenty of  indoor and outdoor play.   Physically moving with your child into what needs to be done whilst you are singing and helping them is most helpful.  Children of this age imitate what you are doing, so making sure you are doing something worthy of imitation is very important.  Words and talking the child to death is the least important part of this picture. 

 

For children ages seven to fourteen, this is a time to be a loving authority in your child’s life because there will be many instances of your child discovering what the boundaries of your home life truly are, and they are searching to see  if you yourself walk the walk of what you are telling your child.  Criticism of the parent seems to start in our times around ages nine or ten, not in the same way that a teenager criticizes, but children of this age certainly do notice if you tell them one thing and then do another!  Calm, sure, steady and warm are hallmarks in discipline of this age.

 

For children fourteen to twenty-one, the parent is moving into more of an age of being the expert guide on life’s issues and the child is of course taking increasing responsibility.  Here is an interesting blog post from over at Christopherus regarding parenting teenagers and talking specifically about dealing with friends:  http://christopherushomeschool.typepad.com/blog/2005/07/keeping_one_ste.html

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

Real Life Resources For Children With Challenges

I just wanted to thank all of you who have been so supportive of my recent postings on children who have challenges in the realm of sensory modulation, and also regarding my postings on our twelve senses.  This work is really important to me as a physical therapist and in how I see the generation of children coming up now who are really struggling in these areas.

Many parents are looking for resources that could be helpful in real life for their children with sensory challenges, children who have been diagnosed along the autistic spectrum, or children who are facing other challenges that are deemed “medical” but as we know from a holistic perspective involve the whole being.

Here are some resources I have been gathering since the workshop I attended on the twelve senses: Continue reading

Helping A Child Learn To Rule Over Himself

“Second only to learning how to bond, to form strong attachments, the most important thing parents can give children is a sense of responsibility – knowing what they are responsible for and knowing what they aren’t responsible for, knowing how to say no and knowing how to accept no.  Responsibility is a gift of enormous value….We’ve all been around middle-aged people who have the boundaries of an eighteen-month old.  They have tantrums or sulk when others set limits on them, or they simply fold and comply with others just to keep the peace.  Remember that these adult people started off as little people.  They learned long, long ago to either fear or hate boundaries.  The relearning process for adults is laborious.” – page177-178,   “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

“Sad at heart, the King stepped from behind the screen, took the Prince by the hand, and led him away from the school.  When they reached the royal palace, the King spoke thus to his son: “Anyone who has to be King someday and to rule over other people must first learn to rule over himself.” – From the short story “The Prince Who Could Not Read” in the book “Verses and Poems and Stories to Tell” by Dorothy Harrer

Helping a child learn to take responsibility for themselves is one of the hardest and most challenging tasks in parenting and also one of the most necessary. Continue reading

Angry- Yell- Cry-Repeat

Have you all ever been in that sort of cycle with a child?  Maybe the child gets really angry, you get angry and  yell, the child yells, it all comes to a head, you both cry, but the cycle repeats.  So many mothers I talk to feel sad, feel guilty, and can’t understand why things have to “come to that “ in order to really communicate with their child.  Mothers also feel most guilty when they have things going on within their families, adult things, and the stress of what is going on comes out in the way they deal with their child’s behavior. Continue reading

P Is For Patience

 

Parenting calls on us to be patient even when we do not feel like it. 

I have been thinking a lot about patience.   I have written about patience before on this blog, but as I grow and change new thoughts come to me.

 

And  what I really want to tell you today, my friends, is that the only way to increase your patience is to take your IMPATIENCE and replace it with LOVE.

 

Love for your children.

Love in knowing that maturity comes slowly.

Love in having a soft and gentle answer to what a child does that is immature.

Love in knowing when a child does need to be pushed a bit in order to move forward.

Love in being able to freeze time, in a sense, whilst the children are all screaming at once, and to still see the tenderness in that scene.  To really see those needs that have to be met, but knowing there is time present to do that.

 

For one cannot be in a hurry in parenting.  It solves nothing to jump to snap decisions, snap judgments, snap action.    I have a dear friend who related to me one day that every time she was trying to get all her children out of the door, inevitably all of them would fall apart and all of them would all be talking, screaming or crying louder and louder to get her attention.  Who should she listen to?  Take turns, listen to “he said, she said”, pay attention to the youngest, the most urgent?  I suppose any of the courses could be reasonable as we step in and try to fight and wade through all of this…but perhaps there is another way to look at it all.

 

And that is this:  replace the frustration you are feeling with love; and keep your eye on the original intent. If it is time to go, then we get in the car and hash this out later. If it is time to eat, then we are eating and we can talk about all this in a bit.  Guide your children  toward the immediate need or goal, whether this is that it is time to go, time to eat, etc.  Deal with the causes of falling apart as a separate issue once everyone calms down, and solve the problems.  Maybe the cause  of everyone falling apart was no one could find their shoes; therefore the shoes need to be in a central place so everyone can find them.  Maybe there is a need for a bathroom break  for everyone fifteen minutes before dinner.  But these solutions will come after the immediate goal is met.  Craft your life.

 

Slow, steady, warm and loving, These are the mantras of parenting.  It can be  hard to do this alone as we are just human; this is when your developed spiritual path will envelop your weaknesses,  your frailness, your challenges and human-ness.  Prayer avails much.

 

P is for Patience, but L is for Love.

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

Following Through

One of the hardest parts of parenting is developing our own will to not waffle back and forth on “following through” in discipline.  We really can learn to  follow through calmly on what we said we would do when a child does something that is not part of the rules in our family.

To do this, I think one has to have in mind what the rules of the house or family actually are, and also the developmental expectations for that age.   Think to yourself:  can this child of this age meet the rules of the house or family, and in what way?  What is my part in this as the parent, and what is my child’s part?  The younger the child is, the more it is up to you to help the child.

Continue reading

When Your Children Are At Their Worst….

You need to be at your best.

You need to set the tone.  Quietly.

You need to calm down.

You need to use your hands gently to help.

You need to approach your child in a true manner that shows you actually want to help them.

You need to be able to pass this duty to someone else in your family if you cannot do it right this minute.  This does not mean you have failed, it means you are human.

You need to still be able to love your child, even if you don’t like them this minute.

You need to know this too shall pass.

You need to know life is full of these moments.

You need to know there is no perfect peaceful house.

You need to know that your child is not doing this on purpose.

You need to know your child loves you and wants to connect with you more than anything.

You need to know you are doing your best.

Many blessings today and every day,

Carrie

Gentle Discipline = Connection Plus Boundaries

We have been talking quite a  bit of late about power, authority and boundaries in parenting.  Our book study of “Hold On To Your Kids:  Why Parents Need To Matter More Than Peers” by Neufeld and Mate spurred the discussion, but boundaries are something I have ALWAYS discussed on this blog.  You can go through the archives or use “boundaries” in the search engine to pull up back posts.

If things are not going well in your home with discipline, here are a few quick tips:

1.  Where are you emotionally and spiritually?  It all begins with you.  Children need to see you modeling how they should be behaving and what values you hold dear.  What comes when as your children grow? When can they go to a friend’s house without you, when can they walk somewhere alone, when can they ride their bike to the corner store, when can they have their first sleepover?  Befriend some mothers with older children and see what issues are coming up for older ages; this helps you plan because you will be there one day as well!

How do you show reverence, how do you show gratitude?

Where is the rhythm of your home?  Where are your moments of laughter, joy, fun, wonder?  What are you doing for demonstrating real work, what is your child doing for real work, what are you doing for sleep, rest, warming foods and nourishment for the soul through singing and verses and stories?  What are you doing to get energy out/outside time?  These things help children of all ages!

How do you speak kindly in your home?  How do you use your words to help each other? 

Are you communicating to your small children that the world is a good place?  That people are helpful and kind?  How are you showing your older grades-aged children beauty?

What is your physical health like?  It can be  hard to be emotionally and spiritually stable and growing if your physical body needs your attention. Sometimes illness, bed rest, an accident can all be a blessing and force us to grow in ways we otherwise would not have, but I am generally speaking here of mothers who run around in their day to day mothering without a thought of water, healthy food or exercise for their own bodies.

2. Are you trying to do this ALL ALONE?  Many mothers are, for a variety of reasons.  Some just will not let their husbands do anything; some are single mothers; some are alone in their marriages.  I have written quite a lot about marriage and even some posts on being alone in marriage, you can refer to those for some encouragement.

You cannot do this all alone; it takes a community of loving family members and friends to help raise a child.  By the time your child is five, this community is increasingly important and by the time your child enters the grades even more so. 

Where do you fit into the equation of the family’s needs? 

3.  Are you connected to your child?  Connection is the basis of discipline.  You do not need words to connect with the small under 7 child, and even the child of 7-9 does not need so many words.  A nine year old does not have logical thinking and less words are truly better!  Connect through being warm and loving, through a steadiness in the home, through physical touch and through play.  Connect with your child by being emotionally stable yourself!

Meditate and pray about your child, look into your heart and see where they are and what they need.  What would uplift them THE MOST at this very moment? 

Sometimes growth comes in spurts with regression, especially for a younger child, and we can tailor our rhythm to these demanding stages. However, very often what an older (six and a half year old and up) needs as they struggle with emotional growth in childhood is to not be rescued and have that feeling of being uncomfortable taken away and alleviated.  Older children, as they grow, need to learn to deal with all of their  feelings, positive and negative, with peers and with people who do things differently. 

4.  What are your boundaries and do you understand what tools are available for each age to help you stick to those  boundaries?

What do you do when your child will not adhere to the boundary?  Sometimes a time-in together or just a little bit of space together outside in the backyard can change the energy just enough – but you still have to go back to the boundary.

Is what you are asking REASONABLE for the age of the child?  And remember, we don’t ASK small children to do things – we do it together.  Exhausting, but alleviates so many problems.

Parent your child for the age that they are – do not treat your ten year old like a three year old and do not treat your three year old like a ten year old!

Look for the next few posts to be from our book study.

Many blessings,

Carrie