"I'm struggling with how to enforce limits without a consequence. For example, brushing teeth -- she'll refuse. It's not reasonable for me to do it by force, so I tell her if she can't brush her teeth, I can't read a bedtime story to her. I do not understand how to set limits if there are no consequences for ignoring the limit."
Great question. How do we "make" our child do what we want, if we don't use force? And brushing teeth is a perfect example, because I've never met a child who was internally motivated to brush his teeth -- or a parent who hasn't been frustrated trying to get kids to brush.
Naturally, we're tempted to threaten our child with punishment. That is, in fact, the only way to force a human to do something they don't want to do. But look at the cost:
"Dr. Laura -- Could you write about transitioning to positive discipline for parents of older kids? If I start Empathic Parenting now with my kids 12 and 9, will it still help? How do I all of a sudden "remove" punishment? My 9 year old always says 'Oh now I guess I am grounded.' How do I change his thinking?"
Transitioning to positive parenting can be hard. Your child has already come to understand the world through a certain lens. He knows he needs to "behave" or he'll be punished by losing a privilege or being grounded. Of course, you'd rather have him choose to do the right thing because he wants to have a positive impact on the world, not because he's afraid of being caught and punished. But how do you teach him the lessons he still needs to learn, if you no longer use punishment to motivate him? READ POST
"Dr. Laura.....I know I need to do a better job with preventive maintenance like spending time with my son, but I still don't know what to say to teach him a lesson when he misbehaves. You can't prevent all misbehavior, can you? So you still need to teach them a lesson somehow, right?"
Staying connected with kids and helping them with their big emotions does prevent lots of "misbehavior." But kids will always need our guidance. They come into the world ready to learn, and they look to us to teach them. Red and blue, right and wrong, what to do when they get angry, how to express their needs and feelings.
We teach so many lessons, and often without even noticing that we're teaching! Because those verbal "lessons" will never teach our children as much as what we actually do. Do we yell (i.e., have tantrums) when we get angry? So will they. Or do we notice when we're getting irritated and say "I'm feeling grumpy....I'm going to take a minute to chill out and get calm...I will be right back..."? They'll learn to do that, too. READ POST
"Parents who are serious about raising children
to be decent people spend an awful lot of time guiding them. It's not
enough for us to have good values; these values must be communicated
directly... For instance, to say nothing when a child acts selfishly is
to send a clear message, and that message has more to do with the
acceptability of selfishness than it does with the virtues of
non-intrusive parenting. We need to establish clear moral guidelines, to
be explicit about what we expect, but in a way that minimizes
coercion."- Alfie Kohn
How do you raise a child who assumes responsibility for her actions, including making amends and avoiding a repeat, whether the authority figure is present or not? READ POST
"Dr. Laura....How do you hold a child accountable for her behavior without punishment?"
"I recently read a quote from a Finnish education minister: "There's no word for accountability in Finnish...Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted." - Teacher Tom
What does it mean, to hold our child accountable for her behavior? My definition would be that our child assumes responsibility for her actions, including making amends and avoiding a repeat, whether the authority figure is present or not. So, really, it isn't about "holding our child accountable." What we want is for our child to step into responsibility, to hold HERSELF accountable. Once someone takes responsibility, we don't have to "hold her accountable." READ POST
"I am a loving mother and mostly my children are very good. But everyone knows that children need discipline. What do you recommend as loving discipline?"
Want to join me in a survey? Let's ask 10,000 people whether children need discipline. I'm willing to bet that in any random sample, 9999 of our respondents will say "Yes, of course!"
But discipline is a murky word, so maybe we should define our terms. From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
2. Instruction (obsolete)
3. Field of study
4. Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.
5. Control gained by enforcing obedience or order.
So, the word Discipline originally meant Instruction or Guidance and derives from the same Latin root as the word Disciple. Nowadays, however, that meaning is considered obsolete, and the word has come to mean Punishment. READ POST
"The reason a child will act unkindly or cause damage is always innocent. Sometimes she is playful and free spirited, and other times, when aggressive or angry she is unhappy or confused. The more disturbing the behaviour, the more the child is in pain and in need of your love and understanding. In other words, there is no such thing as bad behaviour in children. Instead there is a child who is doing the best she can and we don’t understand her.” – Naomi Aldort
Parents are often surprised to hear that I don’t believe in most of what we think of as discipline (spankings, consequences, timeouts) because it keeps kids from becoming responsible, self-disciplined people. “How will my child learn how to behave?” they ask. READ POST