Personal Growth

10 Easy Fundamentals of Child Discipline

10 Easy Fundamentals of Child Discipline

 

These ten fundamentals of child discipline just might save you the next time you lose your cool with your kids.  In working with many parents and children I feel parents need some essentials in their parenting tool box when it comes to how to discipline your kids.  Be patient with yourself.  Hang in there, like you, I can only do one at a time.

1. Discipline is about training instead of punishing.

Most adults don’t have fond memories of being punished.   We do have positive memories when parents spoke to us lovingly and tried to help us. A good personal trainer has a plan for you and knows your strengths and limits. They reinforce those strengths but work and push you appropriately to develop your limits and push beyond them. Parenting is very similar. Our kids have great character strengths and flaws as well. A few questions to ask yourself when your child gets into trouble are: Is this because of one their weaknesses? And if so, how can I both encourage them and help them improve in that area? Also, how can I approach their problem in a new way they do not anticipate to foster more growth?

2.  Correction is about how to live life rather than shaming.

When we shame our kids for messing up it can be taken personally deep into their unconscious where it affects their self-identity. But when it comes to kids we have to remember that they only have a fraction of their executive brain developed compared to us adults. So, no, they don’t know a lot. They mess things up and use things and objects in the home, yard and school the wrong way. Correction offers your adult brain to bond with their immature one to correct and teach how things are done. “Honey, here’s how we load the dishwasher to get as many in there as we can.  Oh, and let’s get those green beans out.”

3.  Reprimand is about teaching accountability starting with me first.

When we make a choice we are committed – no one else can be blamed. The best teaching on accountability is from the wise old saint… you. I hope there is at least one thing my kids have learned from me and that is to apologize. Because I have made so many mistakes in my parenting, and no one else is to blame but me. It’s on my account, not someone else’s. When my kids see me take accountability across the board in my personal life, family life, and professional life, they have the model of how to be accountable themselves. This humility makes the perfect context to teach them the same things.

4.  Insight is about motives and feelings.

Can we really learn if we don’t understand? Understanding takes concentrated seeing and listening. And insight is connecting the personal dots over my motives of why I did or did not do something. This is how motives are refined, improved, and matured. This one is so critical according to the developmental age of the child. Older children do better thinking through their motives and how to improve them. This is because it takes abstract thought which begins somewhere around the ages of 9-12.  We can help our children grow in their insight by sharing our own personal challenges when we were their age and how we realized how we felt at that time.  Also, by talking a bit more on the emotional hues and shades in the different characters from the stories they read and even see on tv.

5.  Consistency is King – inconsistency is a discipline process built on sand.

Know this for certain: when you decide to discipline your kids you will be tested. And when you decide to be consistent that itself will be tested as well. Here’s what consistency means. Consistency means that something around here matters! It yells, “GET THA MESSAGE!”

Consistency in child discipline is huge.  Without it, kids just won’t believe we’re serious.  It will be very hard to teach the more complex and critical values your family believes in when you have not been consistent on the simplest of responsibilities in the household.

6.  Consequences really are not unless they have teeth.

Why do we need consequences? Because it is an instructive tool. When all our kids lost dessert and candy for a week because one of them left a single candy wrapper on the floor they quickly learned that they better corral each other because if not they would all get the same consequence. Amazing, candy wrappers started going in the trashcan.  By “having teeth” I don’t mean abusive/harsh/rough/physical.  Kids just need to know that we are intentional and serious when we discuss choices and consequences.

7.  United we stand – divided we lose.

Here is another test: between mom and dad. It is universal and natural that your kids will test you both on where you stand on issues in the home. All kids do this. They play you. Question: are you being played? How is this making your spouse feel? What matters is supporting your spouse in front of your kids. Differences in parenting are not to be worked out in front of the kids; they need to see you backing up each other. If you don’t they will later disrespect you for it. When we are united as a couple in our marriage we show that our spouse is important and valued and honored. Don’t tread on us.

8.  Relatives need to affirm and support our parenting – not get in the middle.

I love it when I hear my in-laws and extended family tell my kids, “Listen to your dad/mom,” or “go ask your dad/mom.” This continues to send the message to our kids that there’s no getting around mom and dad. As fun as relatives are, even they should back up the parents. Are your personal extended family members getting in the way? It’s time to set some boundaries. You set boundaries with your side of the family; your spouse sets boundaries with their side.

9.  Discipline is loving and respectful – not aggravating and resentful.

Our bodies are wired in such a way that we unconsciously pick up the vibe from each other just before we actually register anything consciously. We sense each other’s emotional states, moods, and even motives. Kids also do this without understanding it. If being loving isn’t a natural reflex for you with a certain child then plan ahead for it in your day. Like waking up or coming home and anticipating any possible conflicts with a certain child and intentionally focusing on love toward that particular child. This will help reduce your stress level.

10.  Discipline is intentional – not reactive.

It is different to seek out your child in the house to help them learn to follow through on what you expect rather than to catch them and prove how irresponsible they are. When I was a young teen I had my own lawn mowing business. It sometimes annoyed me but my dad would sometimes come to my houses and check to be sure that I swept the sidewalks. Yes, this was during the prehistoric era when we used brooms and did not have blowers. He caught any speck of grass I missed and would gently point them out. Today. I. Am. Very. Thorough. Thanks, Dad!

 

Which one of these fundamentals do you need to work on this week?  Please leave us a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

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Overcoming Parenting Guilt

Kaylin is the proud mother of a 5-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. Kaylin is a first grade school teacher and rarely takes time for herself in her busy schedule. Kaylin planned a morning outing where she was going to stop by her favorite coffee shop that she hadn’t been to in months and then get a pedicure to help her relax.

As Kaylin was planning her morning outing she begins to worry about leaving her husband with the kids at home alone, even though he insisted that she take the time for herself. She then starts to tend to everything that needs to be done at the house. As Kaylin is rushing around the house Kaylin starts to regret planning this morning outing because she feels like even taking an hour to do something nice for herself would throw off her entire schedule for the day. She thinks to herself I don’t really need this time to myself. I am needed more here.

Chances are you too have experienced some sort of this self-care guilt like Kaylin. It is natural, especially since we are constantly pushed and praised in our society to be selfless and to be the most involved parent ever. But when does being selfless go too far to a point where you are no longer taking care of yourself at all? Making time for self-care without self-guilt or the endless list of excuses can feel impossible at times.

Recognizing the guilt and anxiety you feel about taking care of yourself is the easy part. Letting go of it is the hard part. The to do lists may overrule your mind making you feel like you don’t deserve self-care in that moment. You may think I can go without it this week. It’s not a big deal. We continue to give and give and eventually we begin to feel burned out. We may even start to resent family, work, or your daily routines. But how do we let go of the self-care guilt? Awareness. It may not be ideal, but reminding yourself of what happens when you don’t take care of yourself can put the importance of taking time for yourself in perspective. Think to yourself how low you are ranking on your own priority list. Are you pleased with that ranking? Does something need to change? Show yourself the same kindness and compassion that you show others by taking care of yourself so you are better able to take care of those that mean the most to you. Remind yourself daily that you are worth it!

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Drawing Lines in the Sand

by Kristin Goodwin

Does this sound familiar… you wake up on a rainy morning and instantly, dread seeps in. You start thinking about your jerk of a boss that will pile a million and one things onto your to-do list today, most of which aren’t even in your job description. Then after work you have plans with a “friend” who spends the whole time talking about herself and her problems, all without once asking how you’re doing (despite the tired look on your face and the fact that your shoes don’t match because you spent the morning taking care of your kids and didn’t leave enough time for yourself). You finally arrive home, only to be met with housework that wasn’t done by any of the other 4 family members living in the same house. Some may read this and say, “Wow, what a complainer. I would hate to be around her too”. However, when I read this all I hear is the need for better boundary setting skills.

Lots of us have difficulty setting AND holding appropriate boundaries. For some of us it’s easiest to have boundaries with our friends, others it’s hardest to have with our families. Many struggle setting boundaries with their supervisors and co-workers.  Let me sum it up by saying, boundary setting is an incredibly challenging thing to do, but not impossible! I outlined a few important guidelines on setting healthy and appropriate boundaries:

1. Allow others (and yourself) the grace of “natural consequences”. If I had received a check in the mail for every time I overspent, I would have never learned how to live within my means. Your 16 year old who always waits until the night before to complete a project isn’t learning anything by you staying up all night to finish the project for him. What he is learning is that he never has to truly experience consequences because mom does it for me. Furthermore, your teaching yourself and everyone around you that your time and wants don’t matter as much as everyone else’s and that’s ok with you (which I’m sure it’s not).

2. Focus on the “I”, not “them”. Whenever I talk with people about boundary setting, inevitably the conversation becomes “I feel selfish for setting the boundary” or “I don’t want this to offend them.” We aren’t drawing these boundaries for them; we’re doing it for us. We worry that our humanly limits will hurt someone else’s feelings when in reality, overstretching ourselves puts those around us in harm’s way because it’s impossible to keep up.

3. Boundaries aren’t for offending people, they’re for protecting you. Healthy and appropriate boundaries don’t hurt, control or attack anyone. They protect you from being taken advantage of, intentional or not. It’s likely really uncomfortable saying no when a friendly co-worker asks you to finish their part of the work project so that they can leave early to spend time with their boyfriend. Your co-worker may seem disappointed. They may even be rude towards you. However, setting this boundary does not cause hurt, nor does it control someone else, it simply protects you.

A really helpful resource for learning when to say yes and how to say no is ‘Boundaries’ by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. It breaks down what boundaries are (and aren’t), conflicts that arise when setting boundaries and how to develop healthy boundaries with friends, family, work, yourself and God. If you or someone you care about struggles with boundaries, I highly recommend this read.

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Let’s All Be Present!

by Kristin Goodwin

Have you ever stopped to wonder what really depression looks like? Or anxiety? I started thinking about this recently when I attended an ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) training. I was taught a definition of depression and anxiety that made a lot of sense to me. Depression is ‘past dwelling’ and anxiety is ‘future tripping’… makes a lot of sense right!?! Often times people experiencing depressive symptoms find that they are living in the past. That may mean past choices, past regrets, past failures, even past relationships. This sort of focus on things gone wrong would make even the most positive person feel pretty down. Life is full of mistakes, poor choices, undesired outcomes… depression just has this way of holding tightly to these things and not letting us free.

People with anxiety would most often say that they think too much about the future, causing them worry and extreme nervousness (hence, anxiety). For years I’ve struggled with sleep troubles. It used to be falling asleep was difficult, now it’s more about staying asleep throughout the night. My brain just loves to wake me up at all hours of the night and have me planning for my day ahead. I’m a planner, that’s just how I’m wired. However, I’ve learned sleep is also super essential when trying to plan for a productive day ahead.  The grounding technique I’ll be talking about throughout this blog is the most effective thing I’ve found when dealing with anxiety and depression, and many of my clients echo a similar sentiment.

First step is that we have to become aware of our thoughts. Not in a judging way, but rather in a noticing way (see last blog entry for help on what this means).  Once we’re able to label our thoughts (ie: “that thought is anxiety”, “that thought is depression”), we are better able to choose how we want to approach the thought. Go ahead, practice. Sit in a quiet place for 2-3 minutes and see if you’re able to simply notice and label your thoughts without judgment. Notice if by labeling your thoughts it helps give you some space between yourself and the thought.

Second step would be recognizing if a thought is helpful or unhelpful. For example, let’s go back to my brain waking me up at all hours of the night to help me “plan” for my day ahead. The way I view this is that my brain is trying to be helpful in that it wants me to prepare for potential future circumstances; funny thing is though, at 3am, my brain’s way of doing this feel incredibly unhelpful!  Therefore, because I find it unhelpful I do not want to engage any further in this thought and would just like to focus on getting back to sleep. So here’s come the third step…

Bring yourself back to the present moment! Easier said than done, right? It doesn’t have to be that hard though either. When you try to bring yourself back to the present moment, simply bring your focus back to the thing you’re doing in that very moment. Say to yourself, “I’m watching my favorite TV show right now” or “I’m talking with my best friend”. If it’s 3am and your brain isn’t shutting off, say to yourself, “I’m lying in bed trying to relax”. By bringing the attention back to the present, you then can decide what it is that you need to get where you want to be. Do you need to reach out to a friend? Do you need to take a walk? Do a progressive relaxation exercise to help you get back to sleep? By living in the present and engaging in helpful coping skills, you will likely feel more equipped to handle your depressive and anxious thoughts.

I hope these things feel MUCH more healthful, even enjoyable, than past dwelling or future tripping!

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Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life?

by Kristin Goodwin

Welcome to my blog and thank you so much for checking it out! My hope for you in reading this blog is that some piece of it speaks to you and leads you towards living a more healthful life. Health means a lot of things to a lot of people… it’s one of those words that everyone seems to have a different opinion about the meaning. For some, it’s exercising and eating healthy, for others it’s following a structured meal plan. Some say it’s living a balanced life and others it’s more about being mentally well. Your definition of healthy could be a combination of all the things I listed and more. I’ll be touching on all aspects of health: mental health, physical health, spirituality and healthy relationships. As a licensed therapist and a wife I feel like I can use my formal education and personal experiences to guide you towards growth and change. Well, let’s get started, here’s my first post…

Am I the only one who just hates it when someone tells me to “cheer up” or “change my attitude”? I personally am of the belief that we can’t just change the way we think or feel. As a therapist I know I’ve been guilty of not only trying to change my own thoughts but even worse, telling my clients to change theirs… I immensely apologize to those clients by the way! What I have found to be really helpful is focusing on changing the way I approach the thoughts and feelings, namely the uncomfortable, self-defeating ones. I learned about this whole ideal when I began researching a therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), I immediately bought in! It feels more realistic to say that I can work towards not internalizing a thought, rather than just replacing it with another, more positive one. For example, when I have the feeling that I’m not good enough, instead of trying to replace that feeling with a ‘well sure you are Kristin’ feeling, I instead become more mindful of how I choose to react to this negative feeling. Most of the time, I simply notice the thought (and noticing is key to this process; noticing means acknowledging without judgment) and then I visualize placing that unwelcome thought on a cloud and letting it float by. Cheesy, maybe… it really does work though! By not feeling like I need to change the thought I’ve given it less power and thus it becomes less powerful to my life and how I view myself. My goal is to always put space between my thoughts and my behaviors so that I can truly be intentional about how I react. I encourage you to practice this for a week to see if it’s as life improving for you as it’s been for me. If clouds aren’t your things, visualize putting the thoughts on leaves and letting them float down the steam or waves that go out to the ocean or even floats in a parade. Whatever works for you!

I hope this is helpful in learning how to deal with negative thoughts and feelings in a healthier way 🙂
Did you know…? Scientists claim that there is always some emotional sensation occurring in the body. Think you’re not feeling anything? Take a second and check in with yourself. Likely there’s some emotions present, whether they be positive or negative!

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Something New at The Daddy Daughter Dance

Had a really great time with my four daughters at the Frisco Daddy Daughter dance tonight.  My wife Jill put a lot of work and thought into selecting their dresses and shoes as any Mom would know how much time it takes to find an affordable and pretty dress for a dance as well as shoes that fit and feel right on their feet.  Such an individual choice of course.  And it was no small task getting them ready with the hair and a few accessories.  She also arranged for us to have dinner afterward with some friends whose girls are in my daughter’s grade at school.  Every dance is special, this was our third.  Tonight, something new happened. Continue Reading

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Self-Esteem in Couples

One of the best ways to build esteem in each other in a committed relationship is through acceptance.  Accepting who your partner is at their core, in their character and history.  The events that shaped them and their feelings about those events.  Acceptance is not passive but active.  Acceptance is taking the simple positives of our partner and highlighting them in kind ways both privately and publicly.  It means being constantly curious about what made them who they are and expressing that in happy ways.  Recently one of my daughters (aged 6) said, “I can’t wait for Mommy to get home, I’m going to paint with her!”  I responded, “You’re excited!  Yeah, Mommy is great at crafts, she loves it.”  My wife’s sister had shared with me some time earlier that Jill loved crafts as a little girl.  I am learning to roll with the enormous mess that comes with creativity in our house and knowing Jill’s love for this art gives me an opportunity support her as well as esteem her in front of our children.  I hope I also showed esteem in receiving what her sister shared with me and taking interest.  How we talk about our partners is extremely important to our children. Continue Reading

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Our Self-Esteem as Parents

In my earlier post I talked about building up self-esteem in our children, today I want to focus on us as parents.  So, how are you doing today?  On a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest) how would you rate your own self-esteem as a parent?  For many of us I can anticipate the blank stare off into space… with visions of laundry, bills, and to-do lists dancing around in our heads.  There’s just no room for thinking about self-esteem.  Wherever you are right now, take a deeeep breath, relax the tension in your body for just a moment.  Have you thought about your self-esteem today?  What have you done that might build up your own self-esteem?  Yes, you’re normal.  For many parents we focus on building up our kids and leave the last if any for ourselves.  And sometimes even less for our partners (more on that in my next post this Friday).  But what we can do for ourselves is not just important for us but for those around us – how we feel about ourselves directly affects all our relationships.  The same simple steps for building esteem in our kids applies to us parents too… Noticing, Tone, and Belief. Continue Reading

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Building Self-Esteem in Children

Here’s the main deal:  Because life is a series of small, incremental steps, attempts, and tries – self-esteem is built up or torn down the same way.  As parents we sometimes make the mistake of thinking that it’s the big events that can get our children ahead in the esteem curve.  Or, if our kids could just learn the big lessons in life, then that would help them too.  While the big events in life are important, as well as the lessons, children are better acquainted with normal and daily experiences – and it is our response to them that seems to matter. Continue Reading

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Family Vacations – Balloon Glow at Steamboat Springs, CO

(c) 2014, Dean Wisdom
(c) 2014, Dean Wisdom

I just returned from a 5-day ski trip with my wife and children and extended family to Steamboat Springs, CO .  I snapped this picture on the last night – catching the Balloon Glow at the base in Mountain Village.  Watching the balloons fire up with rock music going was great and several runs on the mountain were lit up for night skiing.  The weather was perfect this past weekend – sunny clear skies and lots of powder.  This is one of our favorite annual vacation spots.  I thought I would include this trip in my post today to zero in on the importance of vacations. Continue Reading

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