Parents will often discuss the pressure they feel to conform to how other people raise and discipline their children. As a collective society we tend to follow trends and what we come to know, yet, at times we are unsure how we have come to know it.
We often believe and conform to the majority. It can take courage and being brave to step away and reflect and decide for yourself why you might want to do it differently.
For example, many current discipline methods favour behavioural type methods (i.e., the use of time outs, withdrawing of privileges). Behavioural and punitive responses infiltrate many parts of society. If you look around you will see punitive systems at work and in school. If you don’t do this, you will get that. Is this a bad thing? Some would argue not and would even propose that without rigidity and rules things could become chaotic.
Therefore, when more up-to-date discipline methods are proposed it can be understandable for parents to question how effective they are and whether there is a risk for children to turn out to be spoilt and entitled and for their behaviour worsen. Indeed, the more up-to-date methods, where parents ask for their child’s perspective and negotiate can often be mistakenly viewed as soft or permissive and parents commonly believe they will lose control.
Research (eek, that word!) suggests that parent’s believe they need to take a that tough or strict discipline approach to get the job done. Without these methods many fear they will lose control. This is an understandable reaction, yet a very common fallacy.
The good news – you can use the up-to-date methods (that help protect the child’s well-being) outlined in my book (Listen to Me!), which include setting limits in addition to acknowledging your child’s feelings and perspective. Often one of the biggest challenges for parents is to develop or learn ways to regulate their own feelings and responses because we have been so conditioned around how we should view children and how we should respond. Without reflecting we are unable to have flexibility in how we respond. Flexibility gives us choice and helps us to decipher what is appropriate in each and every given situation. So, that is our work to do as parents. Look at our own behaviour first and respond to your child’s feelings rather than their actions.