Bethan O'Riordan Psyhotherapist

Q: “How do I figure out how to discipline?”

A:

This is a great question because it shows that you’re considering which values work within your family.  Your parenting is hugely influenced by the parenting you received which includes the discipline you received.

The first part of this to explore is, what does discipline mean to you and what are the outcomes that you’re hoping to achieve?  Every family I’ve met has different opinions on this so it’s important that parents take time together to work out and answer, “what’s the end goal here?”.

Here are three questions to answer:
1. Do you want your child to be punished?  

2. Do you want your child to hear that they are bold or bad?  

3. Do you want your child to know that we all make mistakes in life and that you’ll be there to help them?

When you’ve answered these questions, you’ll then be in a position to create actionable plans around the discipline within your household.  

Children need flexible boundaries,they need help in understanding what is right and wrong in situations across their lives. The important part of this for you to consider is the how: how are you going to help your child know how to be within the world? 

A great way of working this out is to take a moment to work out how you behave when your child misbehaves.  Do you get triggered, angry and shout when mistakes are made?  Is your child scared of you when you tell them something is wrong?  Or are you afraid of the emotional fallout from your child so avoid this?

Teaching your child to have emotions without shame is the biggest legacy a parent can ever pass to their child.  This is where taking time to work out discipline in your house is so very important.  Remember that children are looking for consistent and predictable relationships.  Can you be the same parent when your child has made a mistake and when you’re having fun with them?  Or do you change and show less understanding, compassion and be less helpful?

This is where so often parents fall down that rabbit hole of opening their mouths and their mother or father falls out. We’ve all been there and it doesn’t feel great!  Parenting is in your DNA and programmed from the generations of parents within your lineage.  But times have changed, we’ve more of an understanding of how children’s emotions develop and what they need to feel safe, secure and cared for.  

I often think of my Mum’s stories of when she was little and her buggy was left at the end of the garden and children walked past and minded her. That was the 1950’s and it simply wouldn’t be allowed now, but was normal then. My point is that the environment in which children are being raised has changed and discipline needs to mirror this.  Children always do better when a parent can use empathy and kindness towards anything they’ve made a mistake with.

Also, fast forward 10 or 15 years.  When your child is a teenager and they get into difficulty, do you want them to be able to phone you and ask for help?  Because this trusting relationship is formed now when they are younger and only happens if they know they can come to you without blame or criticism.

And if this is so very far removed from how you were raised I know it’s like learning a whole new language and you may need support to really explore how this looks in your household. That’s why I have created the private Calm & Confident Parenting Community ,facilitate one on one parenting consultations and have a free 5 Steps to Calmer Parenting to help you parent with ease. You can also book a free 15 minute call with me if you’re feeling stuck and unsure what to do.

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