Positive discipline techniques are about being the qualities that you want your child to feel, learn and have!
That's it! That's the simple guideline!
When you remember this "Being what you want your kid to be" parenting becomes incredibly easy!
See my list of techniques below and read how I use them in my everyday life!
In my view discipline is more about us, the parents, disciplining ourselves, than it's about us disciplining our children.
Because we, the parents, work as mirrors! What we are will be seen, felt, received and ultimately integrated into our children one way or another.
Our moods, our energy, our behavior, our coping strategies ... good and bad ... affect and influence our children much, much more than think.
Therefore in my everyday life I strive very hard towards not being stressed but sometime I do become stressed. I guess most people do!
And what happens:
My 3 year old son feels it instantly ... My stress mercilessly works its way into my son's being and within just a few moments he starts feeling uncomfortable. Yes, it's that fast!
He simply feels that I'm not present (which is true) and he himself becomes imbalanced and starts to become clingy in an attempt to get my presence back. It's just not nice when Mom is not 'there'!
My experience is that the younger the child is, the more open and receptive the child will be to our state of Beingness.
Because of our children's highly receptive state of consciousness, it's well worth being highly aware of what we are transmitting to our children.
The really good thing here is that we the parents can choose to be whatever we want our children to be.
That is powerful knowledge! That is the power of the mirror effect!
Actually, I have one thing only that I care about: Namely, what actually works!
Therefore I don't try to teach my 3 year old to sit by the table through an entire meal because he should 'be polite'. It just simply doesn't work with a 3 year old (at least not with mine)!
However, I do have what I'll call high-level principles.
Those principles are called unconditional love, support and respect.
These principles must be present in my Beingness - that's my goal!
Love, support and respect are some of the ultimate guidelines in my parenting!
So I have guidelines of Being rather than rules based on norms - that's how it is for me!
If I want my child to learn to be understanding and respectful of others, I try to become these qualities myself:
For instance I'll try to teach him tolerance and respect by showing it to him myself, e.g. providing him with a thorough explanation when having to say no to something.
Or if I want my child to calm down if he's upset, I'll try to become a solid rock of calmness and acceptance myself!
In other words, I try to adjust my Beingness to what I want my child to be.
And it WORKS, it really does!
Being stressed is not funny. Not for you or for your child! However, you can actually use your child's Beingness to calm yourself down:
When I'm stressed I try to use deep presence with my child. I use the simple action of focusing my presence on my kid. This actually works as a way relaxing and calming myself down.
When I focus all my attention on my child, it's like a wave of calm washes over me. And my kid loves it too because I'm fully present.
If I'm really stressed I sometimes do a little mental game with myself. I may create an image of physically removing stressful thoughts with my hands and putting them on a shelf to deal with them later. This also works for me!
In my view intuition and gut feeling are the most powerful tools a parent can have when it comes to raising children.
When you tune in to your kid in order to feel and know what your child needs, your answer will typically come from your intuition or gut feeling.
However, when we're stressed it can be really difficult to find the calm to hear the voice of our intuition.
When we're stressed and out of balance we tend to lose touch with ourselves - if we can't feel ourselves, we can't feel our kid. A simple piece of logic!
This is one of the reasons why things seem twice as tough when we're stressed: We lose the connection to our gut feeling, can't be present and therefore can't decode what our child needs or what to do.
What works the best for me is trying to stay emotionally calm when things run high.
Perhaps I use 'the-putting-my-thoughts-on-a-shelf-technique' mentioned above. Perhaps I make an explicit agreement with myself where I say: "After this or that is done, I need to relax and focus on my kid.
Knowing your child and your child's needs makes it a lot easier to make everyday life go around more smoothly.
For instance, my kid needs time to wake up in the mornings and he needs to feel my physical presence when he wakes up.
So instead of just turning on the lights and saying "waky waky", I enter his room in the darkness and lie down next to him and start talking very quietly while caressing him.
This may take 5 to 10 minutes but he is always happy when he gets out of bed. A really good time investment!
Children's consciousness is rarely settled for very long and typically all over the place most of the time.
When we need to make them understand something, we need to grab that elusive attention and hold it firmly.
Every time I have something important to say to my 3 year old, I may say something like: "Look at me, come over here, sit down and look at me, Mom needs to tell you something."
Then I look him in the eyes and tell him what I need to tell him. And if he looks away at some point, it often means that I'll have repeat myself, get his eye contact again because he's now off exploring something new with his consciousness and not listening anymore.
So grab that consciousness, use the power of deep presence to keep it 'locked' with you while saying what you need to say!
Sometimes we have to say no. It's inevitable.
For instance, your family has been invited to dinner at a friend's house and your kid has found the candy box. Your kid wants to keep eating the candy but you know it's bad for him / her (e.g. makes your kid hyper active).
This is how I try to empower my son when I have to set limits:
1) Placing the limit not in present but in the very near future, e.g. "You can have 3 more and that's it. Then it's over!" Putting things into the immediate future prepares my son's consciousness for the change plus he doesn't feel deprived of anything right now. Knowing what's going to happen gives him a sense of control. It empowers him!
2) Repeat, repeat, repeat the limits: "You can have 3 more and that's it."! And when he has eaten one, I repeat it again: You've now eaten one that means you have two left!
Once again, the younger your kid is the quicker your child forgets. This is why I keep his consciousness so tightly focused on the upcoming change (no more candy) so that it won't be a nasty surprise when there's no candy left.
It may sound silly but installing awareness of upcoming events in my son makes a huge difference in the way he handles change.
Just like you do, surroundings may function as a catalyst on your kid's consciousness.
If your child for some reason gets frustrated or unhappy the immediate surroundings play huge role in either calming you kid down or making your kid more and more upset.
Your kid's consciousness is like an open door - things just get in very easily. So every time my kid is unbalanced I take him away from people to a place where we can be all alone and nothing disturbs us. This really helps him calm down.
Once again, we all have to say "no" sometimes. That's just the way it is.
However, one way to help our child not feel rejected or deprived of choice is to have a small list of alternative options ready as replacements the thing we have to say "no" to.
Yes, my kid is still disappointed with the 'no' (e.g. can only have one sweet tasting vitamin pill a day). However, he quickly navigates towards the new options if I just let it rest for a while. E.g. I may put a small bowl with cucumber slices on the table for him to nibble on and after a while he happily digs in.
I personally hate using the word "mustn't"! It's not because I'm afraid of the potential conflict that may arise from using it. No, it's because it doesn't teach my son anything. It just says he can't do something, end of story. Very unsatisfactory for him!
So rather than saying: "You mustn't smack your spoon down your soup. Mom won't have it!", I direct his attention towards the obvious unfortunate consequences of it:
"Look, you see all those stains there on the table and on the floor? When a stain comes on the floor like that, it can never really come off even if Mom washes it. That why Mom doesn't like the stain on the floor. It can't go away again. That makes Mom a little sad. This is why we eat calmly at the table so we don't get food everywhere. But you can have some bread that you can dip into you soup. That won't make stains on the floor."
Explaining and focusing on the effect of his actions may seem very longwinded, I know!
However, it does show your kid that:
1) You take him or her seriously. You actually bother with an explanation! Even though your kid may not understand all your words, he or she understands your respect for him or her!
2) You teach your kid 'good' behavior through natural consequences rather than rigid rules that in themselves may not make sense for a small child.
3) You open up other options for your kid to 'play' and be himself. Like e.g. putting bread in his or her soup.
I really hope my list of positive discipline techniques were of use to you. If you desire more positive tips written in the same philosophical vein of positive parenting and children empowerment, please, do dive into one or more of my articles below.
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