Category Archives: NEW SCHOOL DISCIPLINE

A New School Approach to Family Rules

A New School Approach to Family Rules

What is discipline? In Latin, it means “teaching” and also “learning.” In the “Old School” style of parenting, it was commonplace for parents to teach by making up the rules of the house, and “laying down the law.” Kids were expected to obey, to conform, to learn by doing what they were told. And when they disobeyed, children were “disciplined”–they were punished. Discipline meant punishment. By and large, that discipline system worked pretty well in our families, didn’t it?

New School Approach to “How to Be a Parent”

What I call my “New School” approach to discipline in the family might at first sound too lenient, but it is not. That is the idea of “agreements” replacing the idea of “rules.” Agreements are bilateral–that is, both or all the parties involved make it understood to each other that they are knowingly accepting an expectation, an action, or a limit. Rules, on the other hand, are more like laws that are handed down by a governing body for the common good of the community, and there’s usually a law enforcement system in operation to make it all work. It’s not founded on love, but the power of law and order and obedience.

However, in my “New School” approach to discipline, where we replace “rules” with “agreements,” parents still hold the authority, power, and responsibility of having the last word regarding values, standards, and acceptable child behavior. Paradoxically, parents earn children’s respect and go a long way toward getting their cooperation by listening to them, and sharing decision-making power with them whenever that makes sense. Another paradox: when parents do this consistently, they tend to start learning early on how truly responsible, cooperative, and respectful their children can be. When children are listened to and have a voice in the decisions that affect them, they are more likely to enter agreements with parents about expectations, limits, and consequences. When they agree with parents on these things, they are more likely to cooperate, follow through on what they agreed to.

When people reach an agreement about expected behavior, limits, consequences, etc., they then have a basis for discipline–cooperation, accountability, integrity, and responsibility. If the child breaks an agreement, the parent holds them accountable–not for disobeying a rule, but for breaking an agreement they have made.

                        ********************************

3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony is my ebook  that describes in detail the differences between the Old School Parenting model (power, control, and punishments) and the New School Parenting model (dialogue, agreements, and accountability). The ideas contained here represent a change from parenting harder to parenting smarter. They can transform a stressed parent-child relationship from conflict and arguments to one of cooperation and harmony. Please see these links if you are interested in more information or wish to purchase.

     Learn more.    Buy Now.   Table of Contents & Intro 

Accountability: the “You-and-Me” Dialogue (Discipline Skill #2)

Accountability:
The “You-and-Me” Dialogue (Discipline Skill #2)

I refer to the “Accountability Dialogue” also as the “You-and-Me Dialogue” because this is where I (parent) talk to you (child) about how we are treating each other — especially after you break an agreement you have made with me.

Unacceptable child behaviors (UCBs), such as temper tantrums, arguments, angry and disrespectful insults, lying, stealing, physical or violent attacks on others, etc., can be distressing events for parents. How to handle them can often be a confusing disciplinary challenge.

In my New School approach to how to be a parent, I advocate reaching an agreement with the child (even as young as two years old) about how they will handle the particular UCB in the future. The best the parent can expect to get at that point is an agreement from the child that she will do something different next time. It is understood that the child will break her agreement (at least sometimes). This approach rejects punishments for the misbehavior because punishments are meaningless, ineffective, and counterproductive–they invite the child’s anger and “payback.”

After a Broken Agreement
Continue reading

Discipline: What Is It?

Discipline: What Is It?

Disciplina, in its original Latin usage, means both “teaching and learning.” It’s an interesting word because it means that If there is teaching going on, then there is also learning going on. If someone is learning something, then someone or something (like life or personal experience) is teaching it.

“Discipline” Wrongly Means “Punishment”

Parents discipline children in order to teach them something specific, like right from wrong, good behavior from bad behavior, obedience, the importance of limits and self-control, and so on. Parents teach these things in many different ways. However, in our culture when parents say they are disciplining their children, or want to know how to discipline them, they almost universally use the term discipline to mean punishment as the means of teaching the intended lesson.

Continue reading

Holding the Child Accountable: The You-and-Me Dialogue

Holding the Child Accountable:
The You-and-Me Dialogue

I refer to the “Accountability Dialogue” also as the “You-and-Me Dialogue” because this is where I (parent) talk to you (child) about how we are treating each other — especially after you break an agreement you have made with me.

Unacceptable child behaviors (UCBs), such as temper tantrums, arguments, angry and disrespectful insults, lying, stealing, physical or verbal attacks on others, etc., can be distressing events for parents. How to handle them can often be a confusing disciplinary challenge.
In my New School approach to “how to be a parent,” I advocate reaching an agreement with the child (even as young as two years old) about how they will handle any particular UCB in the future. The best the parent can expect to get at that point is

Continue reading

How to Negotiate Agreements

How to Negotiate Agreements

NOTE: What is said here, and throughout this website, is applicable to adult-adult relationships as well as to parent-child relationships.

In this dialogue process you use all the listening skills (questions, acknowledgment, and reflectivng) and the illustrating skills (modeling, honest and open communication, and I-messages). While arriving at an agreement on something here  and now that is important to you, what’s even more important in the long run is that the child is learning to respectfully negotiate a solution to a problem and reach an agreement that you can both live with.

The following steps might seem pretty complicated at first. But they’re very logical, and if you make this your standard M.O. (method of operation), you’ll get pretty good at it, and you’ll be able to do the whole process without even trying to concentrate on whether all the steps have been used.

Continue reading

How to Use Time-Out

How to Use Time-Out

The “time-out” has become a parenting staple in our culture. It is commonly used to give children a chance to think about their misbehavior in the hope that they will reflect on their actions and determine not to repeat them in the future. That’s the theory. In practice, however, the time-out amounts to little more than a punishment for bad behavior. It’s very similar to the old fashioned “dunce cap” routine.

It is certainly true that children need to learn self-control in general, and particularly in relation to expression of their anger – how to use their words instead of their hands or feet. They learn this best by watching their parents, who are always modeling for them.

It is also true that children need to learn right behavior, or how to behave properly. Parents know what proper behavior is for a child, and in the course of an ordinary day they find many occasions to tell their children what that is.

Questions about Time-Out

Continue reading

Justifications for Punishment

Justifications for Punishment

Punishment of child misbehavior is and Old School approach to “how to parent,” and it’s as old as the hills. It just comes naturally. Almost all parents use it as a means of correcting the wrongdoing of their children for a couple of reasons. One is that children clearly need to learn that doing wrong, like being disrespectful, or stealing, or hurting someone, needs to stop. We would all agree that misbehavior needs to be corrected.

Another justification parents give for using punishment is to teach their children about life–specifically, that wrongdoing usually invites negative consequences, especially if you are caught. It often happens that even if you are not caught, wrongdoing has a way of coming back to “bite you,” and you end up getting what you deserve. So punishment is often used as a means of teaching children about, and preparing them for, the harsh realities of life.

Continue reading

New School Parenting: Discipline Means Teaching Children to Care

New School Parenting:
Discipline Means Teaching Children to Care

I can think of no more confusing and problematic topic for both parents and professionals than the matter of the proper discipline of children. Before getting into how I approach this most important topic, I want to make two points.

“Discipline” Means Teaching and Learning.

First, the meaning of the word “discipline.” The words disciple and discipline come from the Latin word, disciplina. This Latin word has different meanings, including both “teaching” and “learning.” This makes sense because if a person is really teaching something, then that means someone else is actually learning something. On the other hand, if a teacher in a classroom is attempting to teach a group of rowdy students who are not paying the least bit of attention, then we could hardly say they are learning what the teacher is “teaching.” Since they are not learning, the teacher is, unfortunately, just going through the motions, and not really teaching.

Continue reading

Offering Children Choices

Offering Children Choices

The beauty of offering a child a choice is that the child exercises control of his or her behavior with the parent’s blessing. The parent must be able to live with either choice the child makes.

The first formula is a straightforward choice between two options. In the second formula, a positive consequence is proposed to the child if she makes one choice, and a negative consequence is proposed if she makes the other choice. In this way the child chooses the positive or negative consequence freely, freeing the parent from the blame for inflicting a punishment on the child.

Continue reading

Parent Power: Children’s Responses to Control

Parent Power:
Children’s Responses to Control

Social changes have radically assaulted the family and traditional (Old School) parenting methods over the past 25 years, making parenting more difficult.

Significant Social Changes

Some of the things that have changed and made it more difficult for parents to know how to parent are the following.

Continue reading