Discipline can be tricky. How many times did I yell or slam doors to make my point? I don’t know, but my kids could probably tell you. I never felt good about it afterward and usually wound up apologizing for my bad behavior. Additionally, it wasn’t very effective.
As I grew better at parenting, I realized that I could be calm, loving, and nurturing while still disciplining my children. If consequences for repeat actions were already in place, I didn’t have to lose my temper and give ridiculous punishments that made no sense because I was angry and making it up as I went along.
I found that by using clear boundaries and consistent consequences, we all walked away much more in control. Taking the time to explain what the problem was, using a calm, maybe even kind tone worked much better. I could listen without judgment and still discipline effectively. I could even (sometimes if I worked at it) understand why she had done what she did, but still maintain clear and consistent boundaries.
Ultimately, I wanted to confront the behavior that I found unacceptable and still interact in a way that let her know that I still loved and respected her as a person, just not her behavior or her choice.
Fair, firm, and consistent are three key words for nurturing discipline. So what does that mean for us as parents?
Fair may be achieved by setting rules for your household that are neither too strict nor too lax. Also, the rules are for everyone, adults as well as children. Since I am a strong believer in Family Meetings, rules and consequences can be decided upon by the whole family at a family meeting. (See previous Blog titled “Yes, Family Meetings Can Be Fun.”)
Firm means that consequences need to be applied lovingly, not in anger like being hit by a ton of bricks. And since everything should be decided ahead of time, there is no need to get angry. Just apply the consequences and be done. There should be no arguing.
Consistent, now here is the hard one! Consistent means that every time the agreed upon rule has been broken, the same consequence is applied. Moms and Dads really have to be on the same page. Grandmas, Grandpas, and babysitters need to be on board too. The same good behavior is expected no matter who is in charge.
Can “nurturing” and “discipline” be used together? They can and they should. They will coexist in healthy family relationships. Everyone benefits.
Comments are always welcome.