A New Take on Discipline?
Not just for young children
When you think of preschool, it may conjure up thoughts of children laughing, playing, building with blocks, or exploring the picture filled pages of a book. Furthermore, this type of “play” helps children to develop their ability to regulate themselves both socially and emotionally. Regulation skills help children to relate to others, communicate their needs, manage their feelings, and share with others. The development of these skills is a priority. As children grow they will apply them throughout their lives to foster healthy relationships and become productive members of society.
So what does this have to do with discipline?
Because young children are too young to regulate themselves on their own, they often need guidance from the adults around them. One way that adults provide this guidance is through the way they discipline their children. The problem is that no one is given a guide book on how to do this. Most people, including myself, learn what “discipline” is through the way that they were brought up. This is our foundation for how we will handle similar situations in the future. Basically, we discipline our children the same way that we were by our parents and caregivers. We do the best we can with what we know when we raise our own children.
The idea behind Conscious Discipline (CD) is that our traditional views of discipline may not be as effective as we thought. It urges us to make a shift away from the traditional view which uses rewards and punishments to “make” children behave the way that we want them to. Based on the most current brain research, this method is like putting a bandaid on a problem but not helping the children or adult in the relationship grow or learn in a way that will promote optimal lasting effects. As we begin to “understand the internal brain-body states that are most likely to produce certain behaviors in children and in ourselves...we learn to consciously manage our own thoughts and emotions so we can help children learn to do the same.” As parents we all get frustrated at times but following this philosophy we are reminded that our children are looking to us to guide them as they begin to learn how to navigate these strong feelings. The implementation of CD strategies can decrease problem behaviors, power struggles, impulsivity and aggression, while increasing resilience, self-regulation, emotional health and overall achievement.
In Conscious Discipline, the idea is to use strategies that will create long-term solutions to help children to effectively handle their emotions from an internal perspective instead of having it be imposed upon him or her. This in-turn is what helps create healthy children by equipping them with the tools that can be used throughout their lives. For example, when your teenager is in the midst of a meltdown- yelling at you about how unfair you are, a typical response might be to yell right back, or dismiss their behavior. CD suggests that stay composed and avoid getting swept into their anger by yelling back at them. Instead, we can take a breath before speaking. Then we can mirror back to them what they are saying, such as, “You seem angry. You really wanted to go to the mall with your friends.” An example for a younger child that might be having a tantrum might go something like this: “You seem really angry.” (breathe) You can handle this.” “You really wanted to play one more game. It is hard to stop playing your game but it is time to go now.”
There are many levels involved in this approach and I have just begun to scratch the surface. If you are intrigued and want to learn more, there is a link below for a short video introduction to the program for parents.
There is also a parent portal that offers helpful information as well as videos and online courses: CLICK HERE to learn more.
The 7 Powers of a Conscious Adult
1. Power of Perception
No one can make you angry without your permission.
GOAL: To teach adults and children to take responsibility for our own upset.
2. Power of Unity
We are all in this together.
GOAL: To perceive compassionately, and offer compassion to others and to ourselves.
3. Power of Attention
Whatever we focus on, we get more of.
GOAL: To create images of expected behavior in a child’s brain.
4. Power of Free Will
The only person you can change is you.
GOAL: Learning to connect and guide instead of force
5. Power of Acceptance
The moment is as it is.
GOAL: To learn to respond to what life offers instead of attempting to make the world go our way.
6. Power of Love
Choose to see the best in others.
GOAL: Seeing the best in others keeps us in the higher centers of our brain so we can consciously respond instead of unconsciously react to life events.
7. Power of Intention
Mistakes are opportunities to learn.
GOAL: To teach a new skill rather than punishing others for lacking skills we think they should possess by now.