Thursday, January 14, 2010

Discipline Skills in Action

Before we focus on each of the seven basic discipline skills individually, let's take a brief look at how these skills might come together during a discipline encounter. There are two types of discipline encounters: compliance situations in which you have a need, and teaching encounters in which your child has a need. Each of these situations will generally proceed through four stages and will require the use of the basic discipline skills. Remember, this is just the basic framework of a discipline encounter; I am not going to give a bunch of details and examples. These skills were discussed in the previous post and will also be discussed in-depth over the next couple of weeks. For a more complete explanation, please read Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline.

Compliance: A Parent's Need

1) You want your child to do something he isn't doing, or his behavior is inappropriate. Use the "powers for self-control" to regain composure if you are frustrated, then focus on what you want to happen and remind yourself that while you cannot "make" him behave, you can help him choose to cooperate. With that in mind, proceed calmly.

2) You set a limit and your child responds. Use assertiveness and/or choices to specify options that are and are not acceptable. Your child will then respond by either complying, resisting, or throwing a fit.

3) You react to your child's response. If he has complied, use encouragement. If he resists, assign positive intent. If he throws a fit, empathize.

4) Results. Encourage him if he complies, and utilize consequences if he is still resistant.

Teaching Conflict Resolution: Responding to Your Child's Need

1) He either wants something he doesn't have or wants others to act differently than they are. His frustration may show in behaviors like fighting, whining, complaining, or fussiness.

2) You turn the situation into a teaching moment. Use empathy and positive intent to transform his resistance and frustration into cooperation. Then it will be possible to move from his concrete demands to his actual needs. (Needs and wants are not the same, after all!) He will react in one of three ways:
- He may be willing to learn a new skill or problem-solving strategy
- He may resist your attempts to create a teaching moment
- He may pretend to cooperate to appease you, but he won't really follow through

3) You react to his response. Show him very specifically how he can get his needs met by using the skills of assertiveness and choices. Encourage him if he follows through. If he is resistant, provide a cooling-off period, then try again. If he is only pretending to cooperate, trust is lacking in the relationship and it is necessary to use the power of unity to strengthen it.

4) Your child's response. He responds to your teaching by learning and beginning to use a new skill, or he resists. Use consequences if he is unmotivated to use the new skill.

Getting Started on the Journey

I'll wrap this up with a quote from Becky Bailey:

The process of learning to discipline children with love is a journey. It involves letting go of old habits and being willing to risk a different world view. At the outset of this process, you must become aware of what you have been doing and honestly assess the effectiveness of your approach. Then you will need to diligently practice these new skills, forgive yourself when you fail, and celebrate your every success. This journey will greatly enhance your relationships and your life. The journey will take you from being controlled by others to self-control, and from shaming to teaching. It will take you from perfectionism to acceptance, and from resentment to forgiveness. Your personal journey from fear to love will change your life, and in the process, will change your children.

In the next post, we will discuss assertiveness. I hope you'll join me on the journey. :-)

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