“How many times do I have to tell you to brush your teeth?” “I’ve called you 5 times and you didn’t pick up a single one?” “Oh no, you forgot your math books in class again?” “Can you think about washing your hands after peeing on your own?” I think you understand what I mean when I quote all of this. If you also dream of a perfect world where you children are obeying you but are still empowered enough to find their own true paths in life, then this article is for you!
As parents we lose a lot of precious energy every day and night, from one week to another and from a year to a new one to repeat and re-visit the same things again and again! But what if we changed our strategy?
To start off this process, let’s try to put ourselves in the child’s shoes. It is playing, or dreaming of an imaginary world, it is in his world, why would it hasten to answer to, what for us are, our needs, why would it give up living in such a nice moment to go and do something not so nice?
The child, unlike us, lives most of its time in the present moment and this in actuality is very good because as all the wise people on this earth say so well: “The present moment is the only real moment, the past is no longer and the future has not yet come.” We would do well to behave like children more often and go about any moment without hold-backs from time to time, but this will be the subject of another article.
So back to our sheep. The exasperated parent does not know how to do it anymore, loses patience by repeating the same thing over and over again, so he or she fails – he/she shouts, screams, sometimes even cries, and in the end he/she punishes.
I am now going to tell you a bit about the Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen that I have been trained in, and which has transformed my life as a mother. Personally, I would have wanted to call it “positive education” because many of us have a problem with the word discipline, as it indeed invokes the idea of control, constraint, austerity and therefore it hinders our freedom. Though through the practice of yoga, discipline has taken another dimension for me and I now feel it as an ally in my life rather than a limitation.
Positive discipline offers a pragmatic set of tools and a method-work that is neither permissive nor punitive in a firm and benevolent framework. If you are not aware of it yet, I strongly encourage you to discover it either by reading any basics book, or even better by participating in the positive discipline workshops that are organized everywhere in the world, also in Geneva. I know two wonderful trainers who would love to meet you all.
How does then the PD (positive discipline) solve this problem of us constantly having to repeat ourselves all the time? The traditional discipline teaches children in what they should not do, or what they must do to comply to a submissive relationship. In PD we encourage the child towards finding solutions through a dynamic process. The implementation of this strategy certainly requires a little more energy than just throwing a tantrum, but I assure you that in the long run it pays off, both for the sake of the child and the parent.
It is therefore a process of engaging in a dialogue with the child on the problem in question. To expose the facts to it as we feel them and then to listen to it with attention and understanding as it feels them. This exchange not only makes it possible to understand the complete dimension of view and to consider the needs of each other but also to create a different dynamic between the parent and the child.
An egalitarian dimension is put in place and the attention and child’s desire for cooperation become then the natural drivers in the exchanges. In actuality, a punishment or a shout creates a dimension of hostility and superiority that is destructive to the child’s development and self-esteem in the long run.
Once the facts and experiences of everyone engaged in the discussions have been shared, you would try and search for a solution. The child should be simply asked what solutions he or she might consider, so that the situation in question no longer represents a conflict in the future. You will be amazed at the child’s imagination as to finding an exit out of a sticky and bothersome place and through that you will provoke a real desire on its part to initiate a change in its behavior.
You would then agree on a solution and try to start working on it right away. There is a good chance that early on, usually the first few days, everything will go like clockwork but the old habits of the child, or maybe even yours, will come to surge up again. It will then be essential for the parent to remain calm and that they patiently and kindly remind the child of the agreement, the reason for it and the commitment made by it.
After a while, you will be surprised at how the behavior of the child evolves and how the moments of tension concerning a given situation diminish to make room for a peaceful and fluid dynamic between you and them. Through this approach, the child will feel empowered and want to continue evolving step by step towards its autonomy.
After all, are we not, as parents, responsible for educating and supporting our children towards self-reliance so that they, in turn, become caring adults and respectful of themselves and their fellowship?
Positive discipline is at the heart of the education with my children as well as in my children yoga classes, every new situation encountered, and we all know there are many, is an opportunity for me to improve a little more, and my relationship with the children just flourish!