A year ago, I wrote a blog on discipline. I was going to reshare it until I realized that my approach has changed a lot. (Here it is) I had the basic concept, but as a person with no model of how I am parenting my kids to follow, I am always learning and figuring out how to parent my children based on their individual needs.
Update. I don’t discipline them. I believe that all discipline is rooted in manipulation. I believe in natural consequences and I believe that it is my job to keep -myself- in check if the kids explore in a way I would not prefer. Why would I not prefer this? Where is this “rule” coming from? Does it make sense or is it time to restructure?
I am also also always asking my kids to help me understand their point of view. Mostly with Ezekiel, because Z speaks. With Escher, I do a lot of looking for context clues because he doesn’t speak as often.
If there is something that I want them to do, it will already make sense, otherwise I don’t ask. I communicate why “Please clean your room, so you can enjoy being in there and there is room to actually play and you are respecting your things by finding a place for them to go.” I don’t ask a million times. I just put it it out there. If they need help, I help them. If I notice the room is getting and remaining a mess, we will have a conversation “Do we need to go through and donate some of your toys? I am sensing that you are feeling overwhelmed by the clean up.” And usually Z says yes and we work together to see what is no longer welcome in our space and what is not. This is teaching them to self regulate. I don’t yell over and over, that increasing my frustration and I inevitably lash out, but to know that the root cause of a messy room may be because they are feeling overwhelmed by the amount brings about a really important perspective. Compassion. Understanding. This is what we are here for. As far as rules, I only exist to enforce safety. This is safety of emotion, body, mind. Sometimes, if I sense Z may be a little overwhelmed due to exhaustion, I’ll suggest a nap, lay with them, etc. That is safe for mind and body. Not based on my anxieties “you can’t climb that slide because you may get mildly hurt!!!” No. Natural consequences. They may get mildly hurt, but -I- don’t have to say or do anything to protect them from this possible fate, when was the last time my parents telling me not to do something actually made me not do it and not the opposite? Literally never. What did though, was the natural consequence of my choice. Every action has a reaction. And if my reactions in any way made my kids recluse from my voice or touch, that is going to create problems in the long run. Children need to learn to self regulate. If a child is being told what to do all the time, they cease to self regulate knowing that their parents will tell them (over and over) what to do and what not to do, they don’t have to think of giving the “right” choice any thought.
It is hard shifting away from manipulation. “You can have this if you do this!” The paradigm that we are only “good” or “worthy” based on our behavior. I have stayed up many nights with this on my mind. Like I said to start, I have no parenting model of this kind, even gentle parenting uses different tactics to yield the same toxic results. I am starting from nothing and always learning. I do what feels right for us as a family and discipline has been one and will be one where I constantly check myself. “Why.” Why am I doing this like this, what is this rooted in? Fear? Manipulation? Guilt? Time to reevaluate and have an open conversation with the kids included. Ask for their perspective and what they need. Work as a team. Work out of understanding and love. While dismantling the oppressive, manipulative, society encouraged parenting model.
Parenting is a series of relearning or it is the continuation of an unconscious, dysfunctional cycle, ultimately you decide.
Please ask questions if you have them ❤