10 Ways to Guide Children without Punishment (part 2)
4. Connect before you correct, and stay connected, even while you guide, to awaken your child’s desire to be his best self. Remember that children misbehave when they feel bad about themselves and disconnected from us.
Stoop down to their level and look them in the eyes: “You are mad… Tell me what you need, in words… no biting!”
Pick him/her up: “You wish you could play longer… it’s time for bed.”
Make loving eye contact: “You are so upset right now.”
Put your hand on her shoulder: “You’re scared to tell me about the cookie.”
5. Set limits — but set them with empathy. Of course you need to insist on some rules. But you can also acknowledge her perspective. When kids feel understood, they’re more able to accept our limits.
“No biting! You’re very mad and hurt, but you need to tell your brother in words.”
“It’s bedtime now. I know you wish you could play longer.”
“You don’t want Mommy to say No, I hear you…. And the answer is No. We don’t say ‘Shut Up’ to each other, even when we’re sad and mad.”
“No matter how scared you are, I need you to tell me the truth.”
6. Remember that all “misbehavior” is an expression, however misguided, of a legitimate need. He has a reason, even if you don’t think it’s a good one. His behaviour is terrible? He must feel terrible inside. Does he need more sleep, more time with you, more downtime, another chance to cry and release those upsetting emotions we all store up? Address the underlying need and you eliminate the misbehaviour.
7. Say YES. Kids will do almost anything we request if we make the request with a loving heart. Find a way to say YES instead of NO, even while you set your limit. “YES, it’s time to clean up; and YES, I will help you; and YES, we can leave your tower up; and YES, you can growl about it; and YES, if we hurry we can read an extra story; and YES, we can make this fun; and YES, I adore you; and YES, how did I get so lucky to be your parent? YES!” Your child will respond with the generosity of spirit that matches yours.
8. Stay connected with special time, every day. Turn off the phone, close the computer, and tell your child “Ok, I’m all yours for the next 20 minutes. What should we do?” Follow her lead. The world is full of humiliation for kids, so for this 20 minutes just be an incompetent bumbler and let her win. Giggling releases pent-up fears and anxiety, so make sure to play, giggle, be silly. Have a pillow fight. Wrestle. Snuggle. Let her tell you what’s on her mind, let her rant or cry. Just accept all those feelings. Be 100 per cent present. Kids who know they can count on daily special time with their parent flourish, because they trust enough to express their full range of emotion, and they WANT to behave.
9. Forgive yourself. You can’t be an inspired parent if you’re feeling bad about yourself, any more than your child can act “right” if she feels bad about herself. You can always repair the relationship. Start today.
10. When all else fails, give yourself a big hug. Then give your child a big hug. Connection trumps everything else in parenting.
Disclaimer: There are many theories put forward about parenting and punishment. It is best to research and make informed decisions about the style of parenting you wish to adopt.