Podcast #3:

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Here’s our printable 1-page Nurture Notes:  Nurture Notes 3 – Dr. Barbara Sorrels

Most people associate discipline with punishment.
The word “discipline” comes from the word “disciple” – someone who is a follower of the teachings of another. So let’s ask ourselves, “Am I the kind of person I want my children to follow?
If we look at the life of Christ he did not do it by punishing people—he did it through
  • Instruction
  • Correction
  • Coming alongside and modeling – showing
Children don’t always listen well but they are always watching and imitating us. True discipline connects whereas punishment alienates.
What is the most powerful tool for shaping behavior? Relationship. My power to influence and lead my child is directly related to the strength of the relationship that I have them.
Why do we think we can make children do good by making them feel bad?
Time outs, spankings, or taking things away are the most common forms of punishment that I hear moms talk about. But does punishment change behavior, or is there a better way to think about this?
Consequences vs punishment
Traditional approaches to parenting basically start with the underlying notion that making children feel bad is going to make them want to do good.
Time out is an example and probably one of the most popular forms of punishment. This assumes that children engage in inappropriate behavior because they choose to and isolation and separation will make them want to do good.
What is wrong with spanking? Teaches children that power and pain dominate. I want you to be “nice” so I hit you. That doesn’t make sense and undermines the fundamental role of the parent as being a protective shield.
When children feel threatened, they are biologically driven to move close and seek safety and protection from those who love and care for them. But when those who love and care for them are the source of the fear, the child has no where to do go. It is psychological poison.
Think back to our relationship with God…the more we love Him the more we want to please and obey.
A consequence is the result or effect of an action or condition—all of our behaviors, attitudes, and actions have a consequence both positive and negative. The consequence for studying for a test is increased likelihood that I will pass it. The consequence of pulling the cat’s tail is that the cat will likely scratch me.
Children should always be held accountable for their actions in a way that informs and teaches them the appropriate thing to do. Children learn new ways of behaving in the same way that they learn a new skill. Through demonstration, modeling, coaching and practice.
What does discipline look like?
One of the simplest and most effective changes parents can make is instead of time out, give a “do-over” or a “reboot.” But I have to make sure that the child really does know what the appropriate behavior looks like. I might have to give the child the words to say. For example, you are sitting at the dinner table and the child demands, “Give me some more potatoes.” I might as the parent have to give the child the appropriate words. So I would say something like, “Let’s try that again. This is what we say, “may I have more potatoes please?” and then I actually have the child say it.
There is a scientific principle at work here. When I have a child do a “do-over” I am actually activating the connections in the child’s brain related to appropriate behavior.
If I consistently respond and ask the child to “try it again” each time I do that, the connections in the brain are becoming more established where overtime the child is more likely to access and demonstrate appropriate behavior than not.
Are there additional strategies to put in our tool box?
People often resort to time out and other ineffective and alienating strategies because they have no other tools.
When you have to say “no,” whenever possible follow it up with two “yes”s.
Rigidity is often an issue and gets in the way of good parenting. Flexibility, problem solving and reason are tools we use as children get older.
Accountability is always is always appropriate. Shame is not.
Holding children accountable for their actions builds strong kids with grit. Shaming and punishing them pushes them into rebellion. Letting them get away with bad behavior makes them weak.
We won’t always get it right—it’s not about being perfect but being authentic. We are going to mess up. But it is about making repair.
Modeling the process of owning your own mistakes and making it right allows children to realize that relationships don’t fall apart when someone doesn’t get it right. Ereing and repairing is a natural part of healthy human relationships.