Wouldn’t it be great to shout at our kids less, while actually getting them to co-operate more? Instead of constantly nagging and feeling frustrated, when we discipline with heart something magical happens. With less effort, we achieve more! It’s an approach that relates to your child’s (as well as your own) feelings, while speaking clearly and firmly about what’s expected at the same time.
It starts with training ourselves not to loose your cool and lash out with punishment. Instead focus on taking three deep breaths and remembering that when we’re disciplining our kids, we’re actually teaching them what’s expected. Seen this way, we can easily understand why shouting, threats and smacks aren’t good ways to discipline, because they don’t teach anything of value. In fact, our kids are actually learning that it’s okay to shout, threaten, or smack others, because that’s how we’re handling them. Whether we like it or not, our children learn everything from us.
How we discipline affects what our kids learn about controlling feelings, handling arguments and difficult situations. So it’s really worthwhile to take a moment to calm down first and to think about what we’d like to them to learn when we discipline them. For example, if Jo keeps leaving his shoes on the floor, our discipline comment could teach (remind) him that “shoes aren’t for the floor, shoes are for wearing or keeping in the cupboard”. If we’re harsh, threatening and overly demanding, getting their co-operation is less likely.
Top tips for disciplining with heart :
- focus on the relationship- speak in ways that maintains your connection (not worsening it)
- keep calm – take deep breaths before you speak; the way you say things is key
- speak softer and move closer – this grabs attention, gains co-operation and helps sensitive ones
- guide instead of forcing – manipulation isn’t needed (rather state clearly what’s expected)
- be respectful and encouraging – by viewing them as worthy and deserving
- be consistent – explaining what’s expected and maintaining it this way all the time
- be fair, logical and simple – so there’s no need for them to back chat or to try to get out of it
- be both kind and firm – acknowledge their feelings, give consequences AND follow through
- offer choices – let them decide the way in which they get it done, which teaches responsibility
- encourage capacity building – teach them to use their personal power in constructive ways
- build them up – using words like “nice listening”, “thanks for helping” which acknowledges efforts
Last but not least, remember that discipline is a learning process (for us and our children), involving plenty of showing, explaining, attempts, corrections and practise before anyone really learns anything. So be patient with yourself (and them) and watch how disciplining with heart can transform your home.