Respectful Discipline: Part 2

Respectful Discipline Part IIBy Abby Bordner

If you didn’t get to read Respectful Discipline: Part 1, I strongly suggest you start there. The concept of respectful discipline is that we can use discipline to teach our children about our values in a way that earns respect, trust and connection with parents. Sounds good, right?

So, I hope you’ve gained some awareness of managing your emotions. Don’t react to your children in rage. Regulate yourself, not to “happy and nice” because of course, that’s unrealistic and even dishonest. Instead, regulate yourself to the point that you’re accessing your frontal brain that incorporates reason, resource and logic. It’s what moves us from “My child is an animal!!” to “My child is two years old and needs to learn not to hurt others.” Do you see the difference? We act differently based on our thoughts about what is happening.

So, the second part of respectful discipline is moving into a leadership role with our children. Let’s face it. We are the authority over them. We keep them safe, we show them “right from wrong” and we teach them our values. This is the role of a leader. A good leader is not a dictator but someone who is thoughtful, decisive and acts on the behalf of “the followers”. In the presence of a good leader, children feel safe, trusting and respectful. That sounds like qualities we’d like our children to have, right?

So, let’s talk about being a leader. First of all, a leader does NOT act out of rage or hysteria. Remember part 1? Manage your emotions. When you can regulate yourself into a reasonable state, your actions are more thoughtful and decisive. Let me be clear here. Don’t fake it when you’re regulating your emotions. This isn’t putting on a stone face but still feeling fire in your body. It is ACTUALLY calming yourself down. Make sure you understand the difference.

Leaders see the problem, identify it and make action to change it. There is not a lot of talking about it, negotiating it or justifying it. AND there is not a lot of yelling, grabbing or insulting. Leaders are decisive and fair; take action that is thoughtful and in the best interest of your children. Of course, our children won’t always like it. This happens to leaders sometimes. But our job isn’t to make sure our children like everything we do; it is to keep them safe, show them “right from wrong” and teach them our values. Our children actually gain respect for us when we act in their best interest.

Another wonderful thing about being an effective leader in your family is that you are inspiring. An effective leader is confident and connected because it is genuinely their goal to take care of the family. Children who experience this kind of inspired leader in the home feel safe, trusting and respectful. They actually want to “please” because they enjoy being part of the whole. Leaders are generous with affection, kindness and connection. Be sure to specifically tell your children what you like about them and their behavior, how you feel about them and share in the activities your children enjoy.

What steps can you take to be a better leader for your children?

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