Before you begin reading, please note that there will be multiple opinions and emotions that arise about the “right way” to discipline. I encourage you to continue reading this with an open mind and that this is written to improve your parenting skills and quality of life with your children, their ability to self-regulate, and your family.
This article is based on Conscious Discipline and I Love You Ritual techniques that improve the relationship with your child while encouraging them to make the right decisions when it comes to behavior.
Power of Touch
Touch is one of the most intimate and profound ways of communication. According to Conscious Discipline, touch is one of the four elements that is necessary for connection.
“Touch is the only sense we cannot live without. The skin and brain are made up of the same embryonic tissue. The skin is the outside layer of the brain. Touch creates a hormone that is essential to neural functioning and learning. If we want smart, happy kids, then we need to provide more appropriate, caring touch.”
Read more about the elements of connection here.
Since touch is one of the most essential pieces of connection between people and relationships, abusing touch by using it for power, for behavior management, or for discipline is counter-intuitive. Using touch through methods like spanking, paddling, slapping or punching can lead to severe psychological damage and will prevent the hormone that is essential for neural functioning and learning from being released and will release cortisol, the stress hormone, instead. The release of cortisol sends the brain and body into the “fight, flight or freeze” mode and creates hyperarousal and hypervigilance in children. This hormone prevents growth because the body is more worried about keeping itself safe and staying away from danger.
“But I Was Spanked As A Child”
Now, I have heard this in my personal and professional life: I was spanked as a child and I turned out just fine. Sure, you probably turned out “fine”, but look at your relationships. Look at what makes you fearful or makes you avoid certain people, situations, or circumstances. Spanking your children can definitely manage their behavior, sure, but this is only a fear-based response by the child. The child does not respect, believe, or love you any more because you scared them into behaving the “right way”. However, if you use behavior management techniques, such as conscious discipline, that puts the child responsible for their emotions and behaviors, you are now holding them accountable, helping them develop healthy emotional regulation, and increasing their self-esteem by praising good decisions versus punishing mistakes.
So, What Do I Do Instead?
1. Understand the Brain -
Understanding how the emotional state of a brain affects behavior is crucial. Learn the three brain states here.
2. Know Yourself- 7 Powers for Conscious Adults
You cannot teach what you do not know.
their own behavior.
Tell them what you WANT them to do not what you don’t want them to do. Saying “don’t put your feet on the table” for example, gives them the image of putting their feet on the table. Instead, say “keep your feet on the ground” which then creates the image in their brain of having their feet on the ground.
consciously respond instead of unconsciously react to life events.
they should possess by now.
3. Seven Skills for Discipline
These skills are built from the 7 Powers for the Conscious Adult. By responding these ways instead of negative disciplining techniques, you are helping the child move from the more reactive part of their brain, to higher, more cooperative parts of their brain. Remember, children are constantly watching you. If you cannot regulate your own emotions, your child will not learn how to regulate his own. Teach what you want your child to behave like by modeling the behavior (doing it).
This is a lot of information in one area. I encourage you to check out the Conscious Discipline website at www.consciousdiscipline.com to work on the above skills so that you use your power as the adult in positive, growth-developing ways. Remember that you cannot teach what you do not know, so if you don’t know how to get your own brain calmed down, you cannot teach your child to do so either.
This technique takes more insight, knowledge and work than a quick spank on the rear; however, the benefits of taking the time to learn, seeking parenting classes or counseling, and teaching your kids how to effectively regulate their own emotions and make good choices will lead them into becoming more healthy, more emotionally-regulated, and more confident children, teens, and adults in the future.
As a parent, you get to choose. Are you going to take the easy way out and teach your kid to do the same? Or are you going to work hard to work on the relationship, develop the skills, and show your child the way through your own behavior?
Parenting is hard. You don’t have to go it alone. If you need assistance or would like to learn more about Conscious Discipline or ways to effectively discipline your child, contact Robin at 785.408.7529.
You may also read other articles by Robin below:
Children and Technology
What is Play Therapy
The Yellow Car Theory: How Your Thoughts Govern Your Choices
Making Humor Out of Living With Anxiety
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness
Prairie Village, KS