Discipline is NOT Abuse!
World Changers, today I want to tackle a taboo subject. Culturally, the message has been sent that parents can be penalized for disciplining their child. Common, misguided information has been provided that police should interfere when parents discipline their children for inappropriate behavior. World Changers, this is not right. This is not the solution! Parents are now fearful of potential consequences or penalty when fulfilling the role of disciplinarian in their child’s life. Now I agree that peace officers should remediate abusive and domestic situations; however, a serious line is crossed when the message is sent that parents cannot correct behavior. Because of this misinformation, abuse has become synonymous with discipline. The lines have become blurred, but World Changers, these words have clear differences and we cannot allow ourselves to ignore the distinction between the two.
When defining abuse, I associate concepts such as, mental or physical maltreatment, excessive force without just cause, control or manipulation for personal benefit. I think of brutal treatment without parameters that are inappropriately placed. With abuse, a catalyst does not always require an outcome. Abusers rarely wait for just cause to enact physical, emotional, mental trauma. No guidance…only consequence.
On the other hand, when considering discipline, I think of the establishment of moral character, safety parameters or enforcing obedience. I think of the rules and boundaries established within the home guiding our sugars decision making process that is beneficial for the world. I think of correcting established rules violated within the home, school, and community. I think of our need as World Changers to make these infractions teachable moments. I think of character development that teaches sugars how to treat people, their items, and the world around them with love, dignity and respect.
How these two very different concepts became synonymous…well…I really don’t know. Yet, I do know avoiding the establishment of appropriate rules and boundaries, or ignoring disciplining our sugars is not a great idea. Without appropriate consequences for our actions, our sugars will believe their behavior (albeit right or wrong) should be accepted. Or that authoritative figures should be ignored. Or worse, that World Changers have no right to guide behavior and actions.
We all know this is clearly not the case. We would never allow our sugars to cross the street on a red light, or touch a hot stove, or hurt a friend without explaining the repercussions of each scenario. Nor should we…
If anything, we should create teachable moments so future responses will be more appropriate. And, we should not fear retaliation for penalizing inappropriate behavior.
While I believe in discipline, I also believe we have to find balance. Our rules should not be so restrictive that our sugars are not allowed to make mistakes. We all have free will, we all make mistakes, and what we impart on our sugars in these sticky moments will be crucial how they respond in the future. If Timmy breaks a neighbors window, he should do chores or make money to pay for it. If Janet chose watching television over chores, extracurriculars should be eliminated for a time. Whatever the infraction, appropriate conversation with a consequence should be enacted.
The consequences should teach the lesson that whatever the behavior, there are positive or negative outcomes. Our choices dictate which will ensue, but whatever it is, we have to be hold them accountable for their choices.
Now that’s discipline!
World changers, we are in this for the good, the not so good, and the oh my goodness! These moments in life are teachable and discipline is just that in most cases…changing the tide for behavior and actions that can have disastrous consequences. We have to be clear about our position, what we believe to be true and debunk silly myths that come along to distract us from our role.
Here are some helpful tips to guide you along the way (yes, I use them):
1. Before disciplining your child, they should be clear on the boundary, rule, or line that was crossed.
2. Your sugar should understand the consequence attached. Discuss ways how they can handle this scenario in the future. If you had similar experience, discuss how you handled it (albeit good or bad). This is a great way to strengthen the relationship.
3. Avoid disciplining your sugar when angry. It is hard to rationally guide behavior when upset.
4. Allow yourself time to cool off. It’s okay to let them know that you need space.
5. Make sure that discipline is equatable for all sugars in the home (based on age, of course).
6. If the boundary or line crossed involved another person, make sure your sugar apologizes or makes amends. Empathy can only be taught through experience.
7. If the boundary or line crossed involved broken items, ensure your sugar covers some (if not all of the cost). This is a great time to teach about chores to make extra money. It also makes them think twice when breaking things intentionally or unintentionally (you can also remind them that we have to pay for accidents as well).
8. Once you have disciplined your sugar, forgive them, make sure they forgive themselves, and try not to allow anyone to hold it over their head (no one wants to be reminded of their worse mistake all the time).
9. Make sure both parenting partners are present when discussing consequences (whether or not you are still together). This demonstrates a united front (catch podcast episode 15 or blog “A United Front” for more information). Also, have the agreed consequence in mind before approaching your sugar.
I know you can do this World Changer! As always, I am cheerleading for you!
Until the next time! Take Care, C
PS: After reading this, if you realize that you or somebody you know is in an abusive situation, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. You are not alone, and abuse should never, ever be tolerated in any way, shape, form or fashion.