Senior Parenting and Engagement Specialist Dave Brewer shares his thoughts on discipline, rather his Natural Strength Parenting™ approach to learning…

So, here’s the question right?!?

How do I get my kids to do what they’re told, be kind to others, tell the truth, be responsible, respect their elders and do it all in a timely fashion with a smile on their face? Sound familiar?

Well, here’s my surprisingly simple suggestion; Catch them in the act of being good.

Behind that surprisingly simple solution is a simple equation; Discipline = Learning

Behavior is only random once. After that, it happens for a reason. Kids have wants and needs. They believe these negative behaviors just might get them what they needs or want. In fact, sometimes in the past, it has worked.  If they kept it up long enough, or loud enough, somebody gave in and they got what they wanted. Or at least they think it might work. Our goal is to teach them different, productive and desirable ways to get their needs and wants met. And to show them that those other old ways, don’t work.

So, what to do?

Be intentional. Teach the behavior that you want.

Don’t just say “stop it!” What do you want as the parent? You need to be clear about the target behaviors first so that your child will understand them.

Clarify your families’ values.

Say “In this family, we work together so everyone can be happy.” Or “We want you to be a good citizen, to understand rules and follow them on your own.”

In order for them to learn, they need to understand the positive and negative consequences of their behaviors in advance. Then we help them learn from the consequences.

Here are a few tips:

  • Allow children to earn all privileges
  • Be very clear about the consequences for complying, as well as not complying.
    • After that, your role is to allow consequences to apply
  • Consequences related to the behaviors, both positive and negative
  • Mean what you say
    • Say it once, and mean it.
    • If what you are asking is optional, make that clear. Consequences apply after the first time
  • Timeout: very short, interrupting negative patterns, opportunity to reset
  • Grounding: not time-limited, based on demonstrating desired behaviors

Be mindful. Be aware of their emotions, and yours.

Rather than always be trying to “correct them”, catch them in the act of being good! Celebrate these moments. You can also be mindful after implementing a consequence. Mourn the loss of those privileges with them so they can understand the consequence and the reason that you used it.

Work together by lean into their strengths. Strength spot!

Find solutions together. Ask them “what do you think you could do the next time you feel angry?”. Use these moments as opportunities for them to learn and develop their strengths. And once again, don’t always be on the hunt for opportunities to discipline your child, make sure you are usually looking for the chance to praise them. Acknowledge their strengths. Catch them being kind or creative or being a leader. Everyone has 24 strengths inside them, use them to develop the behaviors you want to see at home.

Discipline is learning. It’s a process.  Learning is not a one-time event.  With practice, you can be calmly, supportively in charge.

Want to see Dave discuss this topic? Check out our YouTube page for a video version of this blog!