No-drama discipline or enough of tantrums

books motherhood transition periods upbringing

The trust of our children is of great value to us: our attention, respect, restraint, patience, and endless work on ourselves and our relationships – here is the whole book in one sentence, and at the same time, the painful truth. None of ephemeral absolute love is enough to remain a shelter for a child for a lifetime, only work, only hardcore.

The book seeks to bring back the original meaning to ‘discipline’ – learning – as opposed to the acquired meaning – punishment. The punishment is watering the flower with gasoline, whereas training – with water. Learning, on both sides, is not to give in to impulse, but to establish contact, ask the right questions on both ends and redirect the child in the right direction. What creates drama and tension in relationships is the impulsive response that triggers the so-called brain basement. What builds and strengthens relationships is the reception which involves the so-called roof of the brain by the willpower. These two parts of the brain cannot work at the same time, so when instead of breaking the plate in a fit of anger, we hug and ask questions, the roof begins to work, and anger subsides. Impulsive reactions draw us into the mire of misunderstanding and alienation, while acceptance builds relationships for the long term, gives the child the right behavior model, and diminishes our efforts and problems in the future.

Discipline means to teach, not to punish. Slaps, silence, screams, threats, locking up of a child in another room are all forms of violence that adversely affect the child’s psyche. The only negative thing you can try is the so-called time out (a place and time for the child to sit and think), but even that has to be learned how to and to be used appropriately. In contrast, you can try the so-called time-in, when the child and the adult sit together and cool down in a cozy corner. More about time-in and time-out here.

When dealing with a child, it should always be remembered that our levels of development and experience are not equal. Moreover, the prefrontal cortex of the brain is fully formed only by 25 years. The more it’s developed, the less we are maximalist, impulsive, risk-taking, adventurous and so on and so forth. Therefore, what seems to us a trifle can be a real drama for a child, and what seems a manipulation till the age of 5-7 may be a primitive attempt to get the desired, based on a very limited experience, and there is nothing really wrong with that.

The infant brain is changing, changeable and complex. The second of which means that it’s like plasticine, and we can simulate experiences, achieving the desired changes in the brain. This property of the brain is called neuroplasticity.

Instead of exploding, shouting, kicking and punishing, we want to connect. This requires:

• turn off the bad soundtrack (my favorite glass! She intentionally broke it! She never listens!); put Zbigniew Preisner or Eric Satie instead and breathe ?
• ask WHY before asking anything else (why did you take my glass?)
• think about HOW to develop a situation in order to teach and attach the right model or skill to the child’s brain.
For example, one option is to ask the child to come out and go in again to do same thing over, but with small adjustments, for example, not to demand something, but to ask for it.

Other tools:

• fewer words. when a child is frustrated, they don’t hear us

• accept emotions. all their emotions have a right to exist, and they only learn to manage them

• describe, do not preach. instead of teaching, just describe what is happening, it has a calming effect (you are upset because you broke my glass)

• reformulate ‘no’ to conditional ‘yes’ (yes, of course, you’ll watch another cartoon, but tomorrow)

• emphasize the positive. take for example the Ukrainian translation of the title of this book: the positive ‘no-drama discipline’ in the Ukrainian version elegantly transformes into an authoritarian imperative ‘enough of tantrums!’. I will never understand why would anyone translate this way.

• approach each situation creatively. because every child and every situation is different, and ready-made templates work little.

• play. the game can completely model the desired behavior in the same situation where requests, orders and threats do not work.

• teach your child mindsight tools (like empathy and critical thinking).

Setting up a contact or spoiling the baby? Where is the border?

“We want our kids to expect that their needs can be understood and consistently met. But we don’t want our kids to expect that their desires and whims will always be met. ”

The advice of this book is not a panacea for offenses and misunderstandings, but it’s an effective strategy to reduce the situations in which you would need to discipline, as we set the tone, form thinking, and strengthen communication.

And, surprisingly, there is little in this book that really is about raising children. It’s about relationships with others, regardless of their age, gender, race, etc. It is said that another person is a dark forest, which, however, you can visit with your flashlight, carefully exploring the situation. The book is recommended.

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