On this blog we’ve discussed if you suck as a parent where we boldly, and without regret, stated that if you don’t discipline your kids…you suck. Also discussed previously is how discipline is a form of “Discipleship” and how it teaches lessons so to encourage and strengthen our kids. However, like any discipleship, doing it without a plan can have long-term negative effects. Just look at Anakin Skywalker as an example. Yoda warned Qui Gon Jinn about him but no one listened. How Not to Discipline
Everyone has their own way of disciplining their children and, unfortunately, in the current world we live in it’s become too taboo to talk about our differences without someone becoming offended instead of being open, and respectful, to other perspectives and experiences.
One place we should all be able to agree though is the motivation behind discipline. It should always, yes ALWAYS, come from a place of love. Don’t get all, “That’s so snowflake of you!” because if you have any other motivation behind discipline that isn’t love then I’m telling you right now, you’re a bad, actually make that horrible, parent and please find someone more suitable to raise your kids (and if that makes you mad, who’s the snowflake?).
I say, “love” should be the reason behind disciplining your child because you should love them so much that you’re willing to teach them right and wrong so that they can be a respectful, honest, dignified, loving adult. That doesn’t mean you can’t be stern, adamant, and even strong-willed because, in fact, it takes those things for our children to get a better understanding from punishments. Without consistency you are NOT doing anyone any favors. Again, we’re not all going to agree with specific tactics but we need to be able to at least agree on motivation and consistency.
That said, did you know we could learn how NOT to discipline from a very curious place…called stock photography? I didn’t either until I saw these images and all I could think was, “This is clearly not discipline because it seems to be stemming from a place of anger, frustration, impatience and/or being reactive.”
I know we can’t all agree on everything but can we at least agree that these ‘How Not to Discipline’ images should never be a snapshot of how we address our children? Yeah, I didn’t think so…but at least I tried.
**And remember these are all REAL STOCK PHOTO pictures when searched under ‘parent discipline’.
How Not to Discipline
Don’t Team Up…Too Hard
It’s only natural, if one parent is upset over something their child did then it’s more than likely felt by the other parent as well. There’s nothing wrong with playing bad cop when the time is right. However, both parents don’t need to play that part and it would probably be helpful to have a good cop on hand. That said, take turns often on who plays the bad cop so that one parent isn’t always stuck in that role and eventually making the good cop the favorite parent.
Don’t Stick Fingers In Your Kid’s Face
I know this one seems a little ridiculous when you see the picture but I think a lot of parents would be surprised how often they are guilty of toeing the line on this if they’re finger pointers. I know I’m guilty of finger pointing, and I try not to do it in a overly aggressive way, but one method I’ll never do is wave it in their face close up. This is not only aggressive it’s borderline threatening and that’s basically the opposite of doing it out of love.
Don’t Insult Your Kids
I shouldn’t even have to mention this one but I saw this pic and knew I had to include it for the couple of parents out there who feel powerful when they think insulting their kids is a good idea. THIS IS CHILD ABUSE. If you know of any parents who do this please call the National Child Abuse Hotline on them right now at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) and report them. There’s no turning a blind eye to this or you are contributing to that abuse yourself. PERIOD.
Don’t Shake Your Children
Again, I shouldn’t even have to write this but I’ve spoken to a lot of parents and many, if not most, have told me secretly that they’ve been so aggravated in the middle of the night with a crying baby that they can see how someone can be guilty of shaking their child. No judgment here because everyone I spoke to never did it and all their kids are still alive. However, that isn’t the case for many children whose lives have been taken too soon by parents who shook them.
This isn’t something to gamble on and if you feel you’re about to do it convince yourself to put the child down somewhere safe and walk away for a minute. Literally one minute of them crying is going to be safer than the alternative. Take a deep breath, collect yourself, and remember that this uncontrollable whaling will pass before they go to college…hopefully.
Don’t Use a Fist Towards Your Kid
Look, I get it. You might get so aggravated that you channel all of your pent-up frustration into one single fist but that’s where it needs to end. Once you’ve clinched it hard it should feel better to relieve it, thus, doing the job it set out to do. A fist, any more than that, is not acceptable. A fist is technically, and legally, a deadly weapon so in no way is it OK to be used as a tool to threaten, intimidate, or utilize.
Don’t Mock Your Kids
This one can also be a form of abuse, just like that of verbal abuse, and it also covers another horrible category…bullying. This might be something you’ve slipped and done either out of pure frustration or because you thought you should show them how they looked or sounded. Maybe it even makes them laugh once and a while but there’s a point where it’s no longer going to be funny so work on curbing that before that time comes.
Think about it this way, would you like it if someone mocked, aka made fun of, your child? Would you stand for that? If not, then why do you think it’s OK to mentally and emotionally do it to them yourself? And if you say, “Yes, I would be OK with someone doing that,” then do us all that favor mentioned earlier and find someone better to raise your kids.
Please Don’t Use a Belt, Slap a Face, or Pull an Ear
So this one starts down a slippery slope of spanking and corporal punishment. I’m not even touching this subject with a ten foot pole because I know that what I do, and believe, differs from half the population and vise versa. I also know that you won’t convince me and I won’t convince you when it comes to personal positions so why try to force it on one another?
With all that, what year is it? 1947? Are we going to get a “switch”, too? Let’s talk logic. If spanking is going to happen it should be done in a way that eliminates the ability for reactive measures so that one can’t be reflexive when it comes to doling it out. It needs to be done in a calm and cool way that reflects consequence not impatience or annoyance. It needs to reflect safe not strife.
Remember, whatever spanking looks like to you, make sure that a child knows that what is being done is out of love and not out of anger if that is your belief.
Don’t Scare Them
It’s insane how many of these ‘How Not To’s’ probably feel like we don’t even need addressed but I personally know many people whose parents used scare tactics as a disciplinary measure. It might have worked to make them fall in line in the short-term but those same kids also turned into adults who had experienced long-term damage or broken trust issues with their parents. In other words, don’t do it.
How to Discipline
So we’ve discussed ‘How Not to Discipline’ according to stock photos found around the web but what about ‘How to Discipline’? Here are some quick suggestions to make sure we’re implementing.
Comfort your Kid: Guilt vs Shame
Most the time kids are testing the waters to see what they can and can’t do (it’s called learning…imagine that) so when they find out they can’t do something because it’s deemed “bad” there’s something inside them that naturally makes them regret their action. Unlike us adults, who learned a long time ago how to deflect and blame our misbehavior on others, our kids actually feel bad when they do something wrong.
According to Freud’s disciple, Erik Erikson, guilt emerges in life around ages 3-5 as the negative outcome to a period of life he called “initiative vs. guilt.” This is when young ones develop a strong sense of guilt and can be recognized as the opposite of playfulness. It’s OK for them to feel this emotion however, it is not OK for us to pile on top of that guilt as it can quickly become a feeling of shame and that too is considered abuse as explained by professionals like Psychology Today.
Come Down to Your Children
Don’t come down ON your children but instead come down TO them and their eye level so to talk to them about what they did and why it was wrong. When you stand over them it makes it more difficult for them to process what you’re saying because they’re instead trying to first process how you’re saying it. Give them a chance to feel more connected and safe during this time of remorse.
Have Child Write an Apology Letter
Once they get to an age of being able to kind of write, and it doesn’t have to be Dickens quality, but just enough to say they’re sorry to whoever they wronged, have them hand-write an apology letter. This helps channel their feelings into thinking about it constructively.
Important: Keep the letter short and sweet. It should only briefly say what they did wrong and how they could have avoided doing it or how they’ll attempt to do their best next time. They don’t need to go into detail about how it makes them feel or into any area that makes them feel shamed.