How To Discipline With Connection
Kristina Campos, founder of the Impactful Parent, teaches the 6 step process for disciplining your child with connection. Look at discipline a NEW WAY and discover how discipline doesn’t have to be about taking your child’s stuff away all the time, corporal punishment, or the use of fear based tactics. Discipline CAN bring you closer to your child and improve your relationship!
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How To Discipline With Connection
You might be screaming and yelling at your kid. Maybe you’ve tried taking everything away, their phone, their freedom, maybe you have even tried taking off their bedroom door. Or perhaps you’ve tried the opposite approach. Have you tried gifting your child with everything you never got growing up so that your child will be happy and listen to you? Maybe you have tried both techniques, and nothing works. You’ve just ended up with an ungrateful child who won’t listen and talks back.
Yikes. That’s frustrating. You’re probably wondering, “What’s wrong with my child?” Or you could be asking, “How can I fix this? What am I doing wrong?”
Hello, my name is Kristina Campos. I am the founder of the Impactful Parent. Every week I give you parenting videos that can help you in your parenting journey. If you have a particular topic or parenting question about your school-aged child that you would like me to address, please submit it at firstname.lastname@example.org or by messaging me on social media. All submissions are kept anonymous.
Today, I will talk to you about positive discipline. How you can discipline your child in a way that is effective and still doesn’t ruin the parent-child relationship like hitting, taking everything away, or yelling at your child can do. I will be giving you the six step process you need to see a change in your discipline and stick around to the end because I will also be giving you some free resources to check out that will also help you in this process. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Get your mindset right.
Many people grew up with our parents spanking us and taking a super authoritarian stance on parenting. We were told, “Do this because I said so,” and “Don’t do that or else…” If this is how you grew up, it’s no wonder that you might be lost as to why your discipline isn’t working. People will naturally do things they know and feels familiar. The problem is things are not like how you grew up anymore. Culture and society have changed. But before you dive into a new way of disciplining, it’s important to give yourself grace for trying those old ways. This isn’t your fault. Your child never came with a manual. These pre-conceived thoughts make up your foundation on what you believe discipline should look like. So, ask yourself:
- How did I grow up? What was I taught?
- Was I taught punishment is the most effective discipline technique?
- Do I believe children should be seen and not heard?
- Was I allowed to express emotion when I grew up, or did I have to stuff my emotions deep inside?
- Did I see my childhood discipline as too soft, firm, loose, or rigid?
Today, I am giving you permission to analyze those old beliefs and throw them away. They aren’t working for you anyway. You don’t need to hold on to them anymore.
I want you to consider the new belief that discipline is not about punishment. Discipline is about guiding, teaching, training, modeling, and correcting behaviors. The point of discipline is to teach our kids how to make better choices and improve their moral character. Punishment is about making your child’s life so miserable or painful that they want to comply. Instead, let’s learn how to discipline in a way that brings your child closer to you, improves your relationship, and doesn’t make your child fear you, but rather confide in you for help.
Step 2: Create a connection as soon as possible.
There is a saying in the parenting world: You must connect before you correct. This concept might be completely different from your own upbringing. Still, extensive research from doctors shows parents cannot positively influence their children until they have created a bond. This means creating a relationship with your child where they don’t fear you but rather trust you. Sometimes, parents must stop dealing with the misbehavior and first heal, stabilize, and grow the relationship. Connection creates a sense of safety and openness with your child.
You must create trust in good times if you want your child to come to you during difficult times. As you know, trust doesn’t just happen overnight. This is going to take some time and consistency on your part. Here are my suggestions for creating your connection as soon as possible.
- Explain to your child that you don’t want to yell at them anymore or spank them. Tell them you want to change, and you want to love them.
- Schedule 15 minutes of one-on-one time with your child every week. If you can do more than 15 minutes- GREAT, but 15 minutes is a good place to start because one on one time might mean you have to get a babysitter for your other children. One-on-one time is not watching TV together. Also, put your one-on-one time on your calendar. If you don’t do this, I find that parents get busy, and although they have great intentions- they won’t do it.
- Talk with your child about the house rules. Ask them what kind of NEW rules we want in our house that will make you feel safe and think you can follow. Let your child verbalize what is important to them. Then, once you’ve talked about the rules, write the rules down on a piece of paper and discuss with your child what the consequences of breaking the rules should be. Again, let them have a say in their punishment. If your child is being too harsh or lenient with their punishments, then talk about that and come to a compromise. You still have the power here. I am NOT telling you to let the kids make the rules and the consequences. I AM telling you that the kids should have a say in this, and this is a conversation you should have with your child together.
- To create a connection in discipline, you want to keep the energy of the discipline POSITIVE. When your child breaks the rules, remind them of the rule they broke and implement the consequence you agreed upon quickly and without argument. If your child tries to engage you, walk away from all yelling and negotiations. Matter-of-factly implement consequences without the drama. Matching their yelling and big emotions does nothing except keep you in the cycle of chaos.
- After the dust has settled, go back to your child, and check in with their feelings. Allow them to vent without you talking at all. Just listen to their perspective and feelings and let them talk. After that, refer to the Helping Kids to Learn From Their Mistakes free resource that I will mention at the end of this episode. This free resource will help you NOT fix your child’s problems but help you guide them to learn from their mistakes.
- There are 5 things to keep in mind to connect with your child. They are LISTENING, SAFE TOUCH (like hugs, holding hands, pats on the back, etc.), POSITIVE WORDS (focusing on what your child does right instead of what they are doing wrong), EYE CONTACT (being engaged when you are with them and not giving your child half-ass attention like working or being on your phone while with your child) and SPEAKING TO YOUR CHILD’S LOVE LANGUAGE. (For more about the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, go to https://www.5lovelanguages.com/ )
Lastly, keep in mind that how you connect with your child should change as your child grows because they change too. A common mistake that parents make is trying to connect with their child the same way they did 3 years ago. Connection is easy: DO whatever your child wants, not what you want to do. This means you’ll have to ask them!
Step 3: Learn different ways to discipline.
Remember that our goal of discipline is to teach a lesson. The goal of consequences is not to hurt your child but to create paths to solutions. Discipline can have many forms.
- Training: Teaching your kids how to do something by having THEM DO IT. This is a learning by doing method. Many parents stray away from training their kids because it takes time and effort by the parent. You must SHOW your child how to do what you want them to do. Then you must let them do it alone, go back and correct them, monitor their progress, and finally keep a consistent expectation that they have the skills to do the task now. Also, once parents have trained their child to do something, they must TRUST their child to do it (even if they know they will mess up sometimes.) This method takes patients, monitoring, effort, and a willingness to allow your child to learn from their failures. Think about how you can use the training method to teach your child a skill that you need them to learn, like how to clean their room or cook for themselves.
- Modeling: Teaching kids how to do something by role modeling what you want. You can shape and influence your child by walking the walk and talking the talk yourself. Couple role modeling with creating rituals and routines, and now you got a powerful influence. How can you teach your child a new skill through modeling? For example, if you want your child to be faithful, then model the ritual of going to church and praying in front of them. Or maybe you don’t want phones at the dinner table anymore. You will also have to model what that behavior looks like and follow the rules you want to implement.
- Correcting: The last thing you want to do is do the task for your child because it’s easier or faster. If you do the task for them, the only thing you are teaching your child is that if they ignore the issue long enough, you’ll do the task for them. Correcting your child’s behaviors is best done by role modeling what you want to see, training your child on how to do the task, revisiting what happened that went wrong, and talking about how they could do better next time. The objective of correction is to adjust behaviors for a positive outcome. You can use the free resource documents I will give you at the end of this episode called Learning From Mistakes to help you do this.
- Lastly, there are 4 foundations to discipline. Just 4, but you should know what they are so that you can take those 4 core techniques and apply them to your disciplining repertoire. To learn what the 4 foundations of discipline are, watch my short video at https://theimpactfulparent.com/discipline
Step: 4 Teach vocabulary for feeling words
A lot of the time, kids and even teenagers act inappropriately because they don’t know how to express themselves any other way. They don’t have the vocabulary to tell anyone how they feel, so they will show you. Yes, teenagers do this all the time! The more vocabulary you can teach your child to express their feelings, the less that will happen. I like to do this activity in the car and make it a game. Also, don’t label feelings as good or bad. You feel the way you do, and that’s it. Period. You can’t help it. Accept all feelings in your household. By accepting all feelings in your home, you are not saying that you accept all behaviors. That is an important distinguisher. Be aware of what you were allowed to feel growing up. If you weren’t allowed to be sad or cry growing up, then be aware you might also be telling your children the same thing.
Step: 5 Be a behavior detective
Every behavior has a reason. Behaviors are a child’s way of telling their parents how they feel, especially if they don’t have the words to say it aloud. This means that parents need to be detectives of the meaning behind the behaviors. When your child is acting crazy, and you’re looking at them with the face of Tom (from Tom and Jerry), his jaw-dropping down to the floor, ask yourself, “What is their goal by doing _______?”
- Do they need attention? Do they need acknowledgment for some reason?
- Do they need some sense of power? Do they feel like they don’t have any choices or control over what is happening? Do you, as a parent, feel challenged? This is also another indicator that your child might need some more power.
- Do they want revenge? Do they have a need to protect themselves? Are they scared? Are they feeling unsafe? Kids that bully, boss people around, or hide might be trying to protect themselves by these behaviors.
- Does your child feel discouraged or like they are going to fail? They may be sabotaging, avoiding, procrastinating, or hiding if they are. These behaviors show signs of being scared to fail or not living up to expectations.
I can go on and on, but the point is that parents need to find the meaning behind their children’s behaviors. If too many crazy behaviors are happening all at once, just pick one and focus on the meaning behind that behavior first. Take it one behavior at a time. Behaviors have a purpose. Your child is likely using these behaviors to cope with the feeling they don’t like. Remember that behaviors are how my child is asking for help. How can you help them?
Lastly, before I move on to step 6, remember that if your child has been acting like this for a while, they feel comfortable with those behaviors and have become habits. Habits are hard to break. Self-negative talk, fears and thought patterns can become habits. Plus, it is uncomfortable when you change a habit, making people uneasy. Be patient with your child as you retrain their behaviors and thought patterns.
Step 6 SHOW your child HOW to act better.
One of the biggest mistakes I see parents make is telling a child, “No. You can’t do that,” but ending the conversation there. The child is left knowing what they can’t do, but they still have no idea what they CAN do. For example, a parent might ask the child to clean his room, and a half-hour later, the parent goes upstairs to check on the child and their progress. As the parent steps into the child’s bedroom, the room appears clean but low-and-behold; the parent also finds all the child’s clothes stuffed inside the dresser drawers, wrinkled, and even a few snack bars hiding among the jeans. The parent gets mad at the child and says, this is not cleaning up your room. Don’t stuff your clothes in the dressers! Fix it! And the parent storms out of the room, angry. The child now knows that stuffing the clothes in the dressers is not ‘cleaning the room,’ but is left with the question, what is? From the child’s perspective, their room looks great. There is nothing on the floor, and the room looks clean. The child is left to guess what the parent wants now and might even be afraid because they thought they did a good job, but instead, they just got yelled at and have no idea how to fix it. On the other hand, the parent assumed that the child knew what to do and was lazy. There is a huge disconnect here.
Parents can not assume that the child knows anything! Instead, they need to clarify their expectations by SHOWING the child what they want. Even verbally telling the child what you want is not proficient. A lot can be misinterpreted by just telling the child what you need. Instead, you have to show them. In the case of our example, the parent needs to show the child how to fold their clothes and how to neatly put their clothes in the dresser. If your child is lazy, they will stop you from explaining yourself and will tell you that they know. They won’t sit there and listen to your lecture, so start explaining yourself in painfully boring ways until your child gets it. They will tell you when you can stop. Trust me. Children don’t know what they don’t know. Just because your child is smart doesn’t mean they can read your mind and know your expectations. Show them your YES, after you have told them your No.
Those are the 6 steps for better discipline. Now it’s time to level up your parenting game and put those 6 steps into action. I have several free resources for you today that you need to check out.
- Making Rules Kids Will Follow video
- The 4 Pillars of Discipline video
- What Every Child Needs video
- The Free PDF- Helping Kids Learn From Mistakes
The free pdf, you can find at https://theimpactfulparent.com/learningquestions
I have also made things easy for you and put all the free video resources for you in one place. They are inside the Impactful Parent app. Don’t worry! The app is free, too, and you can download it from the Apple Store, the Android play store, or by going to https://theimpactfulparent.com/app. You’ll find all your videos inside the app in one place- under my Core content section. It’s that easy! Everything you need at your fingertips and inside your pocket whenever you have a moment or need some extra help. The Impactful Parent app is full of episodes like this one that will help you in your parenting journey. You got nothing to lose with these free parenting resources. Go to theimpactfulparent.com and discover how you can step up your parenting game and be a more impactful parent with the Impactful Parent app. Download it right now.
But until next time, you got this, parents. I am just here to help.
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