How Does A 3 Year Old Boy See His Dad Disciplining a Kid the Parental-Love Way

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Disciplining a Kid the Parental-Love Way

Is occasional hitting good for children?

Should I be a ‘free’ parent?

If I use consequences, does that mean I’m withholding love from my child?

November Time the cover story says that parents are overdoing their parenting. I think so, but what should I do instead?

That’s just some of what you’ve been reading in the media and on blogs for the past six months. Never in the history of parenting have parents been so confused and accused. But good news! There is a refreshing response to this confusion and accusation.

This answer has been shared under our noses since the beginning of parenthood: it is parental love. Rarely is parental love fully developed. It sounds so old fashioned that we just ignore it. But when parents fully realize their love, children always turn out to be happy and respectful. Now, don’t press the delete button. This isn’t just another rant from a crazy therapist. See for yourself. Please take a few moments to read the brief summary that follows.

Here’s what I discovered after dusting off this “old” but potentially powerful parenting resource I call parental love. And it took forty years and 2,500 clients to arrive at these proven conclusions that really work.

The fundamental, vital need of a child (equal to the feeling of the need for food) is to feel and believe “I am good because of what I am inside, not because of my performance” and to avoid “I am bad”. Once this belief is established, you will have a happy and respectful child. And you will feel good. Parents do well to establish their child’s need to believe “I am good” by consistently focusing on the good at the center of their child, even during discipline. (Okay, training is required, but it can be done over a three-week period.) Discipline (teaching and training) is less effective when parents focus only on behavior. (This is a normal parental focus). But that puts the parental cart before the horse. The first task of discipline is to focus on feelings and validate them. Here’s the key: Validation of feelings causes the child to feel “good” in the eyes of the parent (remember that “good” is the child’s vital need). Now that “I’m fine” is established, the behavior change will work better.

It is an overview of what it means to release your love. Let’s dive now into a summary of the discipline, or, to put it another way, teaching and training. And let’s always keep in mind the most important disciplinary principle: firm, consistent, respectful, setting boundaries.

Teaching. An instructive part of discipline is helping your child learn two key pieces of information about life: healthy beliefs and acceptable behaviors. Beliefs are central. They serve as a guide and a source of energy for determining the child’s behavior. The two core beliefs that need to be taught are “I am good” and what is right and what is wrong (the child’s guilt system). As these beliefs are established, parents train the child to acquire the appropriate behavior. And here are the parental love guidelines for teaching: use the conversation procedure (see next paragraph), avoid judgment, avoid negative comments, be calm, do not talk more than 25 percent of the time, and during that time ask as many questions as possible, bring up only one or two points at once, keep it short and admit your mistakes. (I bet you already practice at least two or three of these.)

All parenting must begin with the child feeling understood and accepted for his or her point of view. Only then can the problem be solved effectively. This part of understanding and acceptance is achieved through the four-step conversation process outlined below: listen, repeat, agree, and confirm.

“Adam, tell me what happened that made you take out your upset by hitting your sister.”

“She came into my room and started playing with my Legos. I told her to stop, but she didn’t.” (Listening)

Dad repeats Adam’s comment beige he gives his points and then asks, “Did I get it right?” (repeats)

Dad agrees with one, even though he knows quite well that Adam is in Sarah’s room, but bites his tongue at this: “I agree. You you should you are angry that your sister barges into your room.” (Agrees)

Then dad confirmed: “I can see that you are fed up with your sister coming unannounced. I would like it too.” (Validation check)

Now dad turns him around and asks Adam to listen and repeat what dad said. (He doesn’t ask Adam to do the last two steps, agreeing and confirming. These steps are too complex for a pre-teen.) Listening and repeating takes some practice, but eventually even a three-year-old can learn these two steps. Now Adam and dad understand each other and are ready to acquire new behavior. It’s part of the training.

Training. The goal of the training is twofold: to establish in the child (1) healthy behaviors and (2) the ability to use established ways of thinking and believing in the moment in order to choose between right and wrong behavior. The fundamental task of training is to train your son or daughter to delay gratification. “I want it my way, now” doesn’t work. Again, remember the fundamental principle of discipline: firm, consistent, respectful, setting boundaries.

Here is a summary of the skills you must have for training:

Always acknowledge that good is at the center of your child during all (or at least 90 percent or so) of the training exercises, especially during camp training sessions like “Learn to Drive.”

Always shape training expectations according to your child’s (1) feelings and thoughts (put yours aside temporarily), (2) developmental stage, and (3) unique personality (temperament traits). Special warning: Don’t automatically train the way you were raised unless it works for your child.

Use the guaranteed working sequence of VT&T training almost every time: “V” for confirm the feelings that cause your child’s behavior, “T” for teach why certain behaviors or beliefs are important (75 percent listening, 25 percent talking – mostly by asking questions), “T” for train/establish your child’s healthy behaviors and beliefs. (It helps if your spouse or friend cheers your efforts: “Give me a V…” Okay, skip that. But encouragement helps.)

Set expectations for 98 percent success when training a new behavior. Doesn’t it feel good to be successful right away?

Maintain a calm or near-calm voice and facial expressions – without malice – during all training exercises. (Ninety percent will be enough if you apologize for the 10 percent “I’m only human” mistake.) Too much anger, too many times is harmful.

Motivation is the engine of training that changes behavior: logical consequences, rewards, deprivations. Special warning: pain is a destructive motivator; skip the penalty. Place 3 x 5 cards with this message in several places: The biggest training motivator translated into baby talk – “I want mommy and daddy to accept me no matter what.”

Now you have the basics of what a parent’s loving version of discipline looks like. Apply these principles to your family and you will raise a happy and respectful child.

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