Parenting today is a real challenge for most parents–perhaps more so than it was for our parents. There are many reasons for that, and they can be summed up in the idea that this is a far more complicated world than the one in which our parents raised us.
Here are the three most difficult challenges I see for today’s parents.
Discipline: the Latin root word disciplina means both “teaching” and “learning.” (E.g., a disciple learns from a master who teaches.) If there is no learning occurring, there is no teaching occurring.
The Three Discipline Skills
We might say that a general goal of discipline is to teach children to care about themselves and others: Cooperation, Accountability, Integrity, Responsibility, and Empathy. New School Discipline rests upon the parent’s ability to dialogue and reach agreements where the child makes his/her own decisions.
Skill #1.Co-create (negotiate) clear agreements about two things:
Behaviors (Things you either want or don’t want your child to do.)
Consequences (Include positive and negative consequences.)
Be clear on who owns the problem. If the child does, not solve it; guide the child to solve it. This is like teach them to fish instead of giving them the fish.
Use a 4 or 5 step process to guide the child in solving his/her problem.
The Parent’s Commitment to Dialogue
In my New School approach to discipline, the parent negotiates agreements instead of imposing rules because a person–including children–will be more likely to cooperate when s/he has participated in setting his/her own limits and behavioral expectations. In and of itself, the dialogue process is Continue reading →
What I mean by saying that “reflecting” is a listening skill is. The parent acts like a mirror verbally stating the emotion that she (the parent) thinks the child is experiencing, or the meaning she thinks the child is expressing. Example: “So, you are feeling angry.” Or, “I think you are saying you don’t want to go, is that right?” Or, “Gee, that must have been embarrassing.”. More examples are given below.
This technique is eferred to as “Active Listening” by Thomas Gordon, who really emphasizes it in his writings and training classes. I prefer the term “reflecting” because my two other listening skills (acknowledging and asking questions) require the parent to actively communicate with the child.
This “reflecting” technique or skill is the most unusual and therefore perhaps the most difficult of the three listening skills. At first, it seems like a very unnatural way to respond to somebody, but the effect it often has is to encourage the child to say more about what they just said. This is what you want–that the child gets the idea that you are “tuned in” and want to hear more of his ideas on the topic being discussed.
Reflecting statements always mirror back to the child what they said or seem to be communicating non-verbally. They are always statements. They are not to be delivered as questions. If you choose, you might follow the statement with a question to verify accuracy of what you said.
Reflecting statements are not opinions of your own. They are you, simply mirroring what the other is communicating, verbally or non-verbally. They do not mean you agree with what the child said! They only mirror back what the child communicated.
Don’t take anything your child says or does personally.
This might sound impossible. But your child’s negative, immature, insulting, critical, and/or vulgar speech and unacceptable or hurtful behavior do not determine or affect who you are–as a parent or as a person.
Those things say a lot more about your child than about you. They say s/he is angry, doesn’t know a better way of talking, or is perhaps purposely trying to hurt your feelings or make you mad.
On the one hand, this listening technique is completely natural. When we want to know more, what do we do? We ask. On the other hand, what makes this technique different is that in-between the questions, we listen to each of the child’s responses that we’re getting and