Get the cooperation you want and strengthen the connection you share

With all the books, television shows and parenting experts out there today, there’s a ton of conflicting advice, and it can be overwhelming to sort through it. Children don’t come with an instruction manual, although I wish it were that easy!

Parenting is an adventure – it’s exciting, challenging and sometimes downright scary. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned over the years, it’s to expect to make mistakes, and more importantly, not to beat yourself up when you make them.

For many of us, it’s instinctual to respond to bad behavior with anger and traditional types of punishment like time-outs and taking away privileges. However, there’s a more effective approach that doesn’t belittle your child, and instead, strengthens the connection you share and leads to more cooperation on their end.

The main problem is many parents associate discipline with punishment. By rewiring your thinking to associate discipline with teaching, it will create a much healthier and happier parent-child dynamic. Here are some steps to practice positive discipline:

1. Determine the root of the behavior

“Misbehavior is a cue that there is an underlying need,” according to Rebecca Eanes, founder of positive-parents.org and author of The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting.

“When we assess what that need is and address it, often the misbehavior vanishes.”

For example, if you have a newborn and the older sibling starts acting out, the reason could be jealousy of all the attention toward the baby. When you’re conscious of your child’s insecurities, you can be more sensitive to those needs.

2. Make sure your emotions are in check first

Children feed off our energy, so if you approach them with anger and aggression, chances are you will get a similar response. If you’re feeling frustrated and overly emotional, take a step back to get back into a calm and centered place. We can’t expect our kids not to throw temper tantrums if we are overreacting ourselves.

3. Use this as a teaching and learning opportunity

As parents, we have to lead by example.

“When your child is between roughly 4 and 6, you can start teaching her how to problem-solve,” Eanes says. “Ask the following questions to get the ball rolling: What caused this to happen? How did this make you feel? What can you do the next time this happens? How are you going to fix this?”

These are basic problem solving skills your children can take with them the rest of their lives.

Trust me, I know how easy it is to get swept up in the chaos of every day life. But before you know it, your kids will be grown, so there is no better time than the present to be the parent you’ve always wanted to be. Tell your kids how much you love them, how proud you are of them, and cherish every moment. Enjoy the journey – it goes too fast!

Rose Caiola
Inspired. Rewired.

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