Discipline seems to be a four letter word to people of our generation. I think it conjours up memories of how our parents disciplined us; spanking, yelling and making us feel lousy all around. There is a backlash happening where no discipline seems to be the alternative choice. Parents are afraid of making their child feel bad so no boundaries are set and this isn’t good either.
I come from a strict upbringing. My parents, immigrants to the United States, were very harsh with me. By the time I was 4 I started being trained as a professional athlete. Discipline is a part of every cell in my body so it is a part of my parenting style. I bet you are cringing right now reading this because you are picturing me as a “no more hangers” kind of mom. I know, discipline is a four letter word.
Here are my thoughts…. Discipline isn’t the part where we say “no”. To me discipline is an all encompassing action that begins and ends long before we say “no” or put our foot down. I spend a lot of time with my daughter. The kind of one on one time where the phone and tv are off, the facebook is put away, chores aren’t being done and I have nothing scheduled for at least 2 hours.
During this time I do only what P wants. We bounce around doing all the normal play activities but mostly we roll around, rough house, scream and laugh. I hug her a million times and tell her I love her. I give her this kind of attention because she deserves it but also because I know that when I say “no” to something she’ll listen to me. When I tell her “no” I also explain, in detail, why I’m saying “no”. Because knives cut, wet floors are slippery, it makes the other person feel sad, and this is not the time or place because…..
Yes, P may feel bad for a little bit but her overall feeling is of confidence, love and attention because of the time I’ve spent with her before I set a limit. And she understand that the limit is because I love her. Because if she grabs a knife she may cut herself and I don’t want her to get hurt. If she runs into the house straight from the pool she will slip and hit her head and I don’t want her to be in pain. Because if she treats people badly and they feel sad she won’t have friends and I don’t want her to be lonely. Because a playground is for playing but a museum and restaurant are for being quiet, and apropriate behavior affords you brilliant experiences.
All this love, time, explaining, talking and limit setting are discipline to me.