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My kids have always been drilled to avoid placing drinks on the same surface as electronic devices. When my seven-year old daughter placed a pint of water next to my newly acquired tablet last week and then brushed past the table in a way that made the water pour all over my shiny toy, I wanted to yell so badly.
I am not a perfect parent, you see. Like many other parents, I lack patience and you could even say I am short-tempered in general. Needless to say, I was really quite angry. What I really wanted to do is scream, and perhaps hurl insults at my precious little girl.
Yet, I did something different. I ran over to my tablet with a towel, dried it thoroughly, and found that it still worked. Then, I took a parental time-out. This may sound weird to you, and it did to me too just a while ago. So, why?
After I cooled down, I went to talk to my daughter. She was crying and felt extremely guilty. I gave her a hug and told her everyone makes mistakes. Then, I reminded her that we never place drinks next to electronic devices, and that she should remember this, in a matter-of-fact manner. After that, we continued with our day as normal.
This was a big achievement for me because I was a yeller not too long ago. Every day, I am amazed to see the results of our new, more positive discipline techniques. My children are happier, as am I. They are also much more receptive to advice, and ask me for my opinion much more often. That is because our home is now a constructive environment that fosters healthy emotional development and personal growth.
Positive Discipline: Not For Softies
Not yelling, and letting go of a punitive approach to discipline, does not equal letting your children walk all over you. It does not equal no discipline, just discipline in a way that actually achieves long-term results.
Positive discipline thrives in households that have clear rules and expectations, in which children feel they actively contribute to family life, and where predictable consequences are in place.
None of that screams "softie", because parents who do not yell and practice positive discipline can still be very much in control of their families.
All adults know that collective problem-solving and constructive criticism from their employer works much better than anger and humiliation. If your employer, or any other authority figure in your life, reacts to you with anger, yelling and insults, you will probably get angry in return and will not want to solve the problem you have at all. The same holds true for children, with the difference that you — the parent — are the most important person in their life, and besides escalating the situation you were dealing with you will also damage your relationship with your child.
If you are still wondering giving up yelling and the negative atmosphere that comes with that is worth it, ask yourself some tough questions:
- Do you have an anger problem?
- Do you yell because your parents yelled, and it comes naturally?
- Does yelling and anger achieve the results you want?
- When you discipline your kids, does that come from a place of impulse — or do you have the future in mind?
- Does your discipline approach solve problems, or does it actually increase the need for more discipline?