Friday, March 18, 2016

Judy - Some Final Thoughts about Discipline #33

NEVER scold or chastise a child in front of others, especially their friends. This shames and humiliates them and will make them more resentful than you can imagine. Try to make corrections in private so you can both focus only on the behavior, not other issues.

NEVER use withdrawal of love or destructive criticism. This can be an effective punishment and will probably eliminate the behavior, but it will leave lasting scars on a child. Nothing is worth the damage this can cause. In fact, today it is probably called “emotional abuse.”

ALWAYS show an increase of love after any punishment. Remember the TRC Bank because any kind of correction is going to make a big withdrawal from this bank, and you need to replace it with a large deposit as soon as possible. Let them know you still love them unconditionally, but this particular behavior is unacceptable in your family. Never let a child feel she’s not loved because of something she’s done or failed to do.

ALWAYS avoid the “Cycle of Revenge.”

Suppose your young teen does something that’s not too serious, like making faces at his sister. Then, maybe you’re tired, so you over-react and ground him for a week. Of course he’s incensed at the injustice and he wants to “get back at you” so he ruins something of yours. You discover it and yell and scream at him. He yells back and leaves the house. In frustration, you might say something regrettable like, “Fine. Don’t come back!”

This might not be a good illustration, but you can see how something can escalate. I’ve known of cases where this very thing happened and it’s terribly sad. This cycle happens between countries too and it’s never good.

REMEMBER that sometimes the best response is no response.

For example, whining drove me up the wall so my no-response-response was to say, “I can’t understand whining; I can only understand regular voices,” and then hum as I continued doing what I was doing. One daughter says she can distinctly remember trying to make her voice sound “regular” so I would pay attention to her request.

Another situation where silence was the best reply occured when one of my girls was in the moody pre-teen years. We began to clash every time she opened her mouth. I thought she was too sassy and she thought I was too critical. Fortunately she could talk to her dad, even after she stopped talking to me. He was able to describe to me how I looked through her 12-year-old eyes and, frankly, I didn’t like that picture of me. I decided that since I was the grown-up, I would have to do something about it.

Obviously my criticism wasn’t helping so I needed to try another tack. No matter what outrageous thing she uttered, I would not react. I even put a sign on my fridge that said, “Do not engage” and I became as a duck’s back. I didn’t flinch or yell about anything she said, especially those things that were meant to goad me. I often had to bite my tongue or pretend to read, but I managed it. And an interesting thing happened. Over a period of two or three months the more I didn’t respond, the less she tried to get a reaction out of me. By the time she was thirteen, a notoriously difficult age, we were able to talk again and felt close enough to weather the storms of adolescence together.

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