What is discipline? One definition is to obtain obedience by using punishment and reward? If you think that word still fits, you might want to, Cut it Out! It might be time for a new word or at least a new twist to that word. Another view of discipline is to teach in such a way that encourages self-discipline. In that case the word needs to change to disciple. To disciple somebody means that we mentor them by modeling respect, self-discipline and maturity: they become our disciple when they want to emulate us. This requires awareness of our emotional states and the impact they have on our children. Healthy mentorship also means we have clarity around our own personal boundaries and the boundaries of others. To disciple also means recognizing that along with how we behave we must be accountable for how we communicate.
Words are powerful and we can easily harm our kid’s self-esteem by labeling them, making assumptions or putting them down. Or even when we praise them for doing something we want rather than encouraging them to develop internal values and goals. When this happens, our kids lose touch with the ability to learn what we might actually be trying to teach them and more importantly, are derailed from the natural course of development of conscience and responsibility. Likewise, when we don’t actively listen to our children we are role modeling what not to do! If your kids don’t listen to you start by showing them what listening actually looks like.
Effective communication is not about a set of skills and something that you “do”. It is a way of “being” and having an awareness of boundaries. What issue belongs to who? Do I really have to fix this person’s feelings? Are they responsible for how I feel and do I blame them? Do I allow myself to project my own fearful thoughts onto them? When we can get clear with the deeper part of communication then the skills come to us easily. Allow yourself to have well intentioned, messy communication. If the skill takes over, we lose our connection because we are in our head.
So keep learning and growing yourself. Somebody needs to disciple our children!