Google+ Authentic Parenting: The Only Kind of Discipline is Self-Discipline

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Only Kind of Discipline is Self-Discipline

You don’t have to spend much time in the parenting sphere to know that discipline is a big thing: how to use it or not to use, when, what methods, what’s effective... It is probably one of the most discussed topics on parenting fora and blogs.
However, the whole theorem of discipline is flawed. The basic idea behind discipline is that we can intentionally teach our children something. Most often, it’s about limits, boundaries and morals. I have already discussed how this is an impossible premise in previous articles, and will not go into that argument again.
However, I want to address the following:
Wether discipline works or not, some children do end up highly disciplined playing by ‘the rules’ nicely and following whatever their parent’s desire and others do not. They rebel and go against the grain.

What is going on here?

The parent of the well behaved child will think that the trick has worked, while the parent of the rebellious child might try harder, become more punitive or eventually give up.
Both reactions are wrong, because they’re based on the idea that discipline, from parent to child works. All you’ve got to do is try harder, try another tactic, think again.

Here’s the secret: parent imposed discipline does not ‘work’. The only thing that is happening is that the child, eventually, acquires a sense of self-discipline. Some children are very good at acquiring self-discipline, while others are more... ‘creative’. This is not proof that the tricks work, you’re not training a monkey, you’re raising an independent person.
Some children are so scared of consequences and reactions of the parent that they earn to play along. This is not self-discipline, and these are the kids that will have a hard time coping once they are left to their own devices.

So am I suggesting to just let our kids run wild? Is there no alternative?

Of course I am not and there is indeed an alternative.
Letting go of discipline is probably one of the hardest things a parent can do. We live in a culture where this hierarchical view of parenting is deeply ingrained, and where anything that goes against it is frowned upon, to say the least.
Letting go of discipline does not, however, mean anarchy or permissiveness, instead, it fosters freedom and self-governance.
I can’t stress this enough, but you are raising an individual. Most likely, you wish your child to become an independent thinker, ready and capable of making his or her own choices.
Liberating one’s household of discipline will do this for you.

So what can we do?

As I stated above, the only true form of discipline is self-discipline, and we as parents can foster that in our children.
How?
By guiding them and leaving their choices where they ought to be - with them. By trusting them and loving them unconditionally. By viewing the bigger perspective and not getting frustrated about small things. By weighing, for ourselves, which is truly important. And when necessary, by kindly, patiently and with great understanding, explaining the rules to our child.


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