This book, by author Dr. Louise Hart, was first published in 1987, but has had a profound effect on my parenting, and I am so grateful I get to share it with you! If you want to catch up, we have been slowly going through the chapters this school year – the last post, about chapter 12 (“Parenting and Empowerment” is here)- but we will be moving through the remaining portions of the book a little more quickly so this summer we can tackle another one of my favorite parenting books. Our new book will be “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and it comes in audiobook and Kindle editions, along with the traditional paperback and hardcover versions, so grab a copy to be ready for summer!
Today’s chapter in “The Winning Family” is so powerful! It is called, “For Your Own Good: Discipline Without Damage” (Chapter 13). The opening is a look at the traditional saying, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” and how this has been entirely misconstrued. The author adds:
Children need to be guided. If they are not guided – or are misguided – they will be “spoiled.” If an adult overindulges a child without giving guidance, this will be detrimental to the child’s character. But children cannot be spoiled by too much love! They are spoiled by a lack of love and guidance.
Remember, the word discipline has the same root as the word disciple, meaning pupil or learner. Discipline is about teaching and guiding children, not punishing. We guide children until they can take it over with their own internal system of guiding themselves. This is the tallest order in parenting and comes little by little over the years, beginning with the small things. We protect our children from hurting themselves and others, and help them develop resilience and problem-solving skills.
When children misbehave, they are showing an expression of how they feel about themselves (or, I would add, the circumstances and how they deal with circumstances). Children need adults involved in their lives in order to learn this through adult guidance and natural consequences. If an action doesn’t have a natural consequence, then we use a logical consequence. The consequence needs to be respectful, related, reasonable. The goal is mutual respect, mutual responsibility for all parties, not just the child.
However, in order to do this we must develop reasonable expectations. In today’s fast-paced world, we often expect far too much of tiny children. So our expectations and our logical consequences must fit a child’s age. We also must not rescue our children from situations that are appropriate for their age and the maturity level of the child.
There is a whole section regarding “Creative Family Management,” and I love this section as it has healthier options for working with children. There are pages of options in this chapter! My top three favorites in working with my own children or other people’s children are offering alternatives, planning ahead, and choosing my battles carefully.
Tell me your favorite positive discipline guiding techniques! I would love to hear them!