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ParentsCare: Discipline, what’s a parent to do?

Jim Rogers

Jim Rogers

Last time we offered another overview of the importance of being an effective parent. From the moment a child comes to us, the job of being present for the child’s attachment with our loving and caring selves starts that life-long relationship. The sooner the better, the better, the best.

Once we understand just what an enormously responsibility being a parent is, we start to look around and may say, OK, now what? How do we know what effective parenting is?

Parenting expert Jane Nelson says about discipline foundations: “Connections Before Corrections.”

There were times when I conducted three parenting workshops a week! Parents were interested in giving their children the best of themselves. Concerns and ideas, problems and solutions were discussed in those groups and I continue to share with Waccamaw Publishers readers information for effectively parenting more successful children.

In one of the groups a young father observed that parenting workshops should be held in every town and country crossroads every night of the week until parents have a better idea as to the seriousness of their responsibility.

Unfortunately, parents are not eager to participate, even when the classes are free. They have so many items on their busy lists that there is no room for honing parenting skills. The children become the losers. Other states are ahead of South Carolina in valuing parenting education. I am often amazed at how little basic knowledge about parenting effectively we have, and concerned that too many parents really don’t seem to care. They do their job, hit or miss, literally, or trial and error. “Oh, that didn’t work, let’s try this.” Children become research subjects for parental errors. Caring parents want to know more about their jobs and it’s up to them to accept and try what they can the practices that will fit their family values and beliefs.

The one item that is at or near the top of all workshops as a discussion topic, is what the participants call “discipline”.

What too many parents really mean when they say better discipline is that they want their children to obey them, to come when they say come, stop when they say stop and do their chores and expectations without fail.

They want their children to be robots, to do what they are told with no back-talk or disagreement. They want them to “listen” even if they have said the same things for the hundredth time. They end up really holding that definition of discipline when we examine the issue in detail supposedly to make their lives easier and simpler. That’s the discipline we talk about. Until we talk about it. Then we realize that we don’t really want our children to be mindless “yes” people. We want them to attain independence and confidence. We want them to be able to solve problems, to be cooperative, considerate, giving and caring.

Parents can be the most influential teachers. Discipline means to teach, so the parent’s job is to do that…teach. It does not mean to make more rules, or produce harsh punishment. Children learn by watching the adults in their lives. We all learn better from someone with whom we have a caring relationship, one that is respectful and responsive. A good relationship is spending good time together. That’s what Jane Nelson means when she says “Connection Before Correction.”

Punishment is not the answer to undesired behaviors. In fact, punishment is the least effective means of changing behavior. It may “work” at the time, but parenting effectively is like a marathon race, not a sprint. Unreasonable punishment lowers a sense of worth, increases hopelessness and offers at best only temporary results while often creating permanent damage in the family. Learning comes from the parents, what they do, what they say and how it is said. What we get back is more often what we give out. Children need a learning environment thoughtfully organized by caring and loving adults in order to learn respect, trust, impulse control, language skills and manners.

Effective discipline cannot be achieved from parenting “on the go.”

Don’t lose heart!

Jim R. Rogers, M.Ed., CFLE

Nationally Certified Parent and Family Life Educator

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