Discipline as a loving and respectful teaching: 9 steps to manage and transform children's "whims" and excesses.Don't store avocado like this: it's dangerous
Let's face it: to think about the whims (of children but not only, in truth) one of the first thoughts that often come to mind is that more discipline would be needed. Indeed it is.
Before someone can feel an itch in the nose, and twist it, it is better, however, to agree on the meaning to be attributed to the term: discipline derives from the Latin discipŭlus "disciple" and therefore refers to the act of teaching with clarity and wisdom, lovingly, like any true teacher can do. But for us adults and “any” parents?
The good news is that translating this type of "presence" into practice with children is not difficult, it is enough to treasure the discoveries already made by neuroscience for some time, collected and told by Daniel Seal, neuropsychiatrist, e Tina Payne Bryson, developmental psychotherapist and parental consultant, in the book "12 revolutionary strategies to promote the mental development of the child”Edited by Raffaello Cortina.
In children the right hemisphere of the brain and the emotionality that distinguishes it tend to prevail over the logic and rationality of the left hemisphere; it is therefore important to know how to use their "expressions" and "whims" as an opportunity to achieve new integration between the different parts of the brain, an opportunity to learn to consider the feelings of others and to build long-term skills. The rudder that guides the choices must be love: and if there were any doubts about the effectiveness of such a "disciplinary" approach, studies will dispel them immediately.
In fact, the children who obtain the best results in life - from an emotional, relational and behavioral point of view - have parents who, while remaining consistent with the indications and teachings provided, interact with them in a way even in the "excesses" of their children. that communicates love, respect and compassion.
The results, as we read in the book, are clear: children are happier, do better in school, get into less trouble less and are able to weave more meaningful relationships.
So here are the 9 steps to a loving discipline against whims and excesses.
1) Make the connection
No, it is not about the internet or the cell phone that does not take but - rather - to restore a deep and authentic contact with the child and what is happening to him. If he cries or screams, he clearly will not be able to hear what you are saying to him: he cannot because he is overwhelmed by emotions (for adults it is almost always the same). The way is to tune in to his feelings, to demonstrate understanding and closeness: this helps to move the child from a behavior based on reactivity to one, instead, more receptive which allows to put together emotions and thoughts.
Specifically, it is: convey safety and serenity (if the child cries, and the adult screams, the environment becomes more tense for everyone; if the child screams and the parent talks to him in a gentle and non-threatening tone, space is created for new possibilities); openly recognize the importance of the child's feeling (as well as the possible non-adequacy of his behavior); listening to what the child feels, helping him to express his experience; mirror his words (rephrase what he said, so as to show that you understand deeply) and then invite him to reflect. It goes without saying that in order to "stop" a whim or an intemperance of the child, one must be in a calm state of mind, not altered by his behavior.
2) Essential, of few words
Once the "connection" has been found, it is important to address the problem underlying the "whim", point out correct behavior and so on but without smudging. Without repeating the same things a thousand times, without lectures that would cause the attention obtained to drop.
3) Accept the emotions
All feelings are allowed - and therefore, apparently sensible or not, can be expressed - but not any behavior. So the correct message should be: "You can hear anything you hear, but you can't always do whatever you want."
4) Describe the facts, don't lecture
Children generally know whether they are doing well or not. Instead of "preaching", reporting directly to the facts facilitates mutual "connection" and listening and allows you to emphasize more effectively, and often only implicitly, teaching or appropriate behavior.
5) Involve the child in the discipline
A punitive and authoritarian attitude - in addition to probably prohibiting a certain behavior, but only in the short term - transmits to the child above all the awareness that the strongest dictate the rules: it is not exactly the best. It is the archaic and incapable "discipline" that needs the stick because it is weak in content. What is needed is a dialogue.
Once the connection has been made and the child is receptive, one can begin to speak: first towards intuition ("I know you know the rule, so I wonder what's happening to you that led you to this") and then towards empathy and integrative reparation (“What do you think it was for her, and how could you make things right?”).
Conversation thus becomes an instrument of knowledge, reflection, encounter, emotional regulation and reinforcement of learning.
6) Transforming an unconditional "no" into a "yes" following rules
There are behaviors that are not negotiable, there is no doubt: some "no" can only remain such, without ifs and buts. In most cases, however, it must be borne in mind that a real "no" can be much more difficult to accept - and not just for the little ones - than a yes that places conditions. Furthermore, the prohibition, if expressed in a severe and contemptuous tone, can activate a reactive state. Conversely, a positive affirmation, even when it does not allow a behavior, activates the circuit of social involvement: the brain becomes more receptive, the connection with other people is facilitated and learning is also facilitated.
7) Underline and ask for what you want (not what you don't want)
"Put all the toys scattered in your bedroom in the basket" it is much better than "You are always messy, your room looks like a battlefield after an explosion". In short, it is better to say what to do, to speak positively and constructively, rather than repeating what you do not want to see, what you should not do. And it is important to always value correct behavior; also because, rightly so, "if every time you open your mouth only criticism comes out, what feelings do you think they are instinctively associating with you?"
8) Get out of the reaction, choose a fun action
Each situation can also be answered with a smile, or by playing, or creatively, thus completely overturning the scenario and reducing the child's resistance. For example: instead of arguing with the child why he doesn't want to get into the car, you can turn into a scary monster that chases him until he finds shelter in a safe place. This allows to overcome-defuse the "whim-conflict" evoking sympathy, producing a tuned communication that is effective for the child and also able to harmonize any disappointment or emotion of the adult. Let's learn to "break" with fun!
9) Help to recognize their emotions
Siegel and Bryson stress the importance of helping children observe their emotions. Experiencing them is important but also noticing them, recognizing them, giving them a name, observing them for how they move within them. In short, it is a question of accompanying them on a path of emotional awareness that will also allow better management of moods: "we want our children not only to feel their feelings and perceive their sensations but to be able to notice how they feel. their body, to be able to testify their emotions ".
By the way, perfect parents do not exist (nor, after all, do we need them). The point is - rather - how one handles one's mistakes in front of children: observing, children can experience that “when there is conflict, there can be reparation, and things get good again. This helps them feel secure and not so scared in future relationships; they learn to trust, and even expect, that calm and connectedness will follow conflict. Furthermore, they learn that their actions influence the emotions and behavior of other people ”.
As they say: nothing comes from diamonds, from manure (properly worked) flowers are born.
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Anna Maria Cebrelli