5 Discipline Basics

A Parent’s Most Important
Most Difficult Job

“To educate a person in mind and not in morals
is to educate a menace to society.”
                                                       Teddy Roosevelt

Discipline is a parent’s most important responsibility, and without question, the hardest part of a parent’s job.It is easy for most parents to love their children. Love is a natural response to your child. Holding, hugging, cuddling, cooing; for most parents, these are the easy aspects of parenthood. A parent’s transition from serving the child’s needs and wants to a balance of the child’s being able and expected to do for themselves and begin to serve others is a critical and difficult transition.  Soon parents learn that disciplining their child is difficult. It requires that parents keep the end result in mind. The end result that most parents’ hearts ache for is that their children be happy, competent, caring, charitable, responsible human beings that succeed in living and loving. We simply want our kids to be GREATT kids. This end result is what the Capables™ are all about. The Early Childhood Capables GREATT Learning System™ was created to help parents, teachers, grandparents and other loving adults influence, bless and benefit, discipline, strengthen and fortify the children they love.  It is a tall order and one that the Capables™ were created to fulfill.

5 Discipline Basics

Let’s begin with the 5 Discipline Basics that form the foundation forThe Early Childhood Capables GREATT Learning System

Disciplining is about training and coaching not punishing. Children need to learn skills. When we are disciplining our children we need to be less concerned with how they feel because feelings are fickle and can change with the wind.  We should be, more concerned with our child’s ability to think great thoughts and make great choices. When my son’s were small I used to explain to them that I didn’t care how they felt today, I cared if they were great men in their future. Once children know you are committed to training and coaching them to greatness and that your love for them will not allow you to falter, they begin to focus on the larger picture with you.

The Capables™ are designed to help parents guide their children in the development of their internalized values, as well as to help parents distinguish discipline from punishment. Some think that punishment and discipline are the same. I believe that punishment is a penalty that is imposed on someone for wrongdoing. The goal of discipline is to teach, not to punish. We want our children to learn how to make great choices and as they practice making GREATT™ choices, they become accomplished at self-discipline.

Punishment is often administered out of anxiety, insecurity, fear, frustration or anger. The Capables™ are designed to help parents discipline with poise, confidence, empathy and caring all the while focusing on teaching. While disciplining a child you do make sure that they suffer natural consequences, but not for the sake of punishing them. You want your child to learn and grow. You want them to strengthen their self-control and make good and effective decisions. It is by disciplining or teaching children that parents help their child(ren) become great, responsible, caring human beings. Discipline is not for the parents benefit. It is not an outlet to help parents release or relieve their frustrations. Discipline should not be about making a child pay for ‘bad’ behavior, or a power play to prove who is boss. A parent’s real power comes from teaching their child(ren) to be better, stronger, wiser, more compassionate, more loving and more confident. Discipline is the opposite of punishment and focuses on love.

Instead of loving your child unconditionally, love them instead, unquestionably. The only way to insure that your child knows that you love them unquestionably is when they watch you in your unwavering dedication to do the very best for them and help them develop to their fullest potential. Children need great expectations to live into. They need to believe that you believe in them and have high expectations when it comes to their capacity to be great human beings.

No one that I have spoken to really understands what unconditional love is. How does it serve a child to know that you love them even if they are horrible, mean, hurtful human beings? Parents must set boundaries and standards for their children to live in to.  Love your child so much that you are willing to do what is best for them, no matter how you or they might feel at the moment.

The goal of parental discipline is to help your children develop self-discipline through developing internal limits and standards. Children must learn to set their own limits. They must learn to cope with their own selfishness anger, frustration, impulsiveness and entitlement in order to feel a sense of control and security in their lives. The strength of your child’s ability to set healthy limits is a direct result of your willingness to lovingly, but consistently, set and maintain limits when they are small. When they know that you love them unquestionably, they believe that you discipline them because you love them, not because you don’t.

“All learning, even of limits and structure,
begins with nurturing care, from which children learn trust,
warmth, intimacy, empathy,
and attachment to those around them.
Limits and structure begin with nurturance and caring
because 90 percent of the task of teaching children to internalize limits
is based on children desires to please those around them.

                                                                                  Dr. Stanley Greenspan, Great Kids 

Discipline is about helping your child(ren) become more self-reliant and confident. Your goal is to do all you can to help your child develop the skills they need in order to become GREATT™ adults. Keep that end result in mind at all times when it comes to disciplining your child. It will help you do what is best for your child, instead of what they want you to do, or what is easy to do at the moment.

The goal is to help our children become confident, capable and self-reliant. A three year old child has the power to dress herself, make her bed, prepare her breakfast, sort whites from colors in the laundry, dust, and more. As easy as three, she can adequately show other children how to do the things she does. But many parents are concerned that their children need time to be kids. They grow up so quickly and they will have to have responsibilities soon enough so why burden children with chores and responsibilities too soon?

According to Bob Lancer, author of Parenting with Love, Without Anger or Stress,

“Giving your child responsibility makes her happier,
more competent, and more confident.
Your child’s self-reliance also serves you,
because the more he can do for himself, the less energy
you have to expend doing things for him.

A child craves the experience of mastery and accomplishment. The first six years is a perfect time to introduce household chores as an opportunity to build your child’s self-reliance because they want to do the things they see you doing and they feel a deep desire to experience a sense of contribution.

Any parent who has ever had more than one child quickly learns that each child is unique. They have different temperaments, personalities, strengths and weaknesses. As a parent you need to learn about your child and adapt your parenting to each of your children’s needs. This does not mean, change your values structure, it means, try to understand how each of your children is seeing the world.  (I have created a personality inventory called The Primary Colors Personality Inventory and you can find it on my website at www.DawnBillings.com. Take the test and think about how your personality and your child’s personality are the same or different. The Primary Colors Personality test and a copy of my e-book The Color of Understanding comes with each Early Childhood Capables GREATT Learning System™ to help you understand yourself and your children better.

Another important job we have as parents is to help our children adapt to changes beyond their control in life. Figuring out how to adapt to different situations in our lives helps develop and strengthen our creativity and problem solving skills. Kids need to learn to not be easily tipped over by life. If life puts up roadblocks toward accomplishing their dreams, they need to know how to navigate their way around the roadblock.

In order to adapt, children need to develop hardy and resilient natures. A child must learn not only how to adapt to unexpected change, but also, how to handle rejection and disappointment in order to succeed and fulfill their life goals and dreams. Every person, large or small, brown, black or white, tall or short, girl or boy, young or old will experience disappointment. Disappointment is a reality of life. Like the seasons, disappointment will come and go and return again. We will experience disappointment many times, in many areas of our life. Therefore helping our children to develop resilience and a hardy disposition is very important.

If our children are not resilient and hardy, disappointment can break their hearts and their spirit. We cannot save our children from experiencing disappointment, nor should we even try. Instead we should focus on helping our children develop healthy ways to deal with the reality of disappointment in their lives. It is how we deal with disappointment that defines our wisdom, and emotional intelligence, and ultimately our success. This is one of the places where a parent’s ability to respond to a child with empathy is so critical. Whether a child’s disappointment is caused by something outside of the child’s control, or it is a consequence of a child’s inappropriate choice, empathy needs to be our first response.

If your child can feel your empathy as you explain to them that ALL people feel disappointed at times, no matter who they are, the child begins to believe that their disappointment is a normal part of life. But disappointment is never an excuse to give up on yourself or your dreams, nor does it ever justify making a choice that is hurtful or lacks wisdom and kindness. Empathy helps you align with your child during a difficult time and helps them feel they can indeed deal effectively with the disappointment. You can connect and bond with your child by telling them there are times you feel disappointed too. Tell them, each time you ask yourself, “If I were GREATT™, what choice would I make?” This exchange helps your child develop internal unstoppable fortitude.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really
stop to look fear in the face.
You are able to say to yourself,
'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”

                                                                                             Eleanor Roosevelt

Between Roberta and myself, we have spent almost fifty years counseling families, couples and children. We have counseled children who have been abused, we have counseled women who have been raped or beaten. We have counseled young men returning from brutal wars. In each instance, we discovered that those individuals who were connected to their faith, whatever that faith was, were without question, the hardiest, most hopeful, most optimistic and most amenable to healing. Faith is important. Following our personal faith is important. Teaching our children to develop their personal faith is important. We would be remiss in writing this book about greatness without mentioning where we believe all greatness originates with GOD.  Faith fortifies us, encourages us, inspires us and guides us in making decisions about how we will choose to live our lives.

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