Before beginning to explore the three sets of tools, let us summarize
our progress to this point by exploring thirteen tips for managing the
challenges of discipline.
more discipline tools you have the more effective you can be.
- Flexibility is a requirement for success. Parents with limited
options will be frustrated more frequently when their actions are
ineffective. Nothing works; what else can I do? is a common
complaint. When resources are exhausted, the potential for violence
and abuse increases.
the right combination of tools at the right time.
- Every problem may require a different discipline tool or combination
of tools. What may work in one situation may not be effective in
another. Parents have to be flexible as they choose options from
their discipline toolbox. They may have to experiment to find a combination
that is effective with a particular child and situation.
a quiet mind.
- Informed discipline decisions depend on parents being fully aware
of the child, themselves, and the problem situation. To begin, focus
with a quiet, open mind on what is really happening. Then begin the
work of thinking and acting.
is no single right answer.
- There are no clever gurus out there with a magic formula for success.
Raising a child is hard work, combining love with firmness, success
with reversal, and thought with action. The best solutions are are
determined by individual parents who know and love their children.
Teachers, therapists, guidance counselors, writers, and social workers
can provide support and serve as cheerleaders. The parents have to
be willing to think, struggle and love. Wisdom is created out of
the struggle to find a way to exercise authority as an expression
choices as a parent is an act of faith.
- To have faith as a parent means to believe that one's efforts will
make a difference over time. It means accepting the challenges that
occur at every stage of development as children grow older. Just
as a parent begins to feel comfortable guiding a toddler, that child
has become a preschooler who is beginning to explore the world more
widely. A whole new set of difficulties suddenly appear. Another
parent may wonder how she will ever cope with the affectionate grade
schooler who has become a defiant, sullen teenager. Life is a series
of changes in which something familiar and predictable is left behind
for something new and risky. The most parents can expect of themselves
is to make the best choice they can at any given time. They must
have faith that their love and guidance, as imperfect as they may
be, will nurture another human being.
are like emotional bank accounts.
- Everything parents do that is positive and uplifting is a deposit
in the account. A smile, a good word, a gentle hug add to the positive
side of the ledger. Everything parents do to confront, to criticize,
or to punish are withdrawals from that account. Some withdrawals
and some deposits are greater than others. Some withdrawals are inevitable,
but to avoid a bankruptcy in the relationship, deposits must exceed
- Parents who use responsive discipline know what they hope to accomplish
with their children. They avoid wasting their energy over low-priority
issues. Their behavior clearly communicates the values or principles
that guide their lives. They act with purpose.
Wisdom is created out of the struggle
to find a way to exercise authority
as an expression of love.
is not right.
- Strength and power are associated with confidence, self-respect,
and love, not brute force. There is a difference between authority
figures and bullies. Punishment should be used infrequently and only
when necessary after prevention and guidance efforts have failed.
Self-esteem, self-control and a healthy conscience cannot be nurtured
through fear and intimidation.
right is more important than being liked.
- Parents want their children's affection. Remaining firm with an
important decision despite a child's anger can be difficult. I
hate you, mother! You [obscenity] father! can be like
daggers thrust into a loving parent's heart. But parents cannot wilt
before the heat of their children's anger. They must stand firm where
firmness is necessary. Parents who act in good faith, in the best
interests of their children, will ultimately earn the love they deserve.
parent is a prisoner of the past.
- Parents can make their own choices regardless of the treatment
they received as children. Making a break with the past, to stop
a cycle of abuse and neglect, can be a heart- wrenching challenge.
Parents with painful pasts are not doomed to repeat the mistakes
of their parents. Making a deliberate choice from alternatives is
the key to breaking from the past. There is power in having options.
ahead to look back.
- Before they respond to their children's misbehavior, parents should
imagine the future. Will they regret the course of action they plan
to take? Will they be proud of what they have done? Can they later
look their adult child in the eyes with confidence? When their children
grow up, how will they describe their parents' discipline style to
mistake is a lesson and an opportunity.
- Discipline mistakes tell parents what does not work and what must
be changed. Mistakes also mark a beginning point for renewal, a chance
to break with the past. Excellence does not mean perfection.
ever, ever give up.
- Raising a child requires immense faith and patience.
Quick results are rarely achieved. The most important goals take
a long time to achieve. Setbacks and mistakes do not mean failure.
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