Yesterday I felt compelled to start a series of videos related to discipline, to family rules, and connecting with our children. They are one minute long and I first posted them on my personal instagram stories. I’m adding the first batch below. They are in Romanian, and they convey the message that a connected child is more willing to obey a good and wise parent. Acting immediately, when they do something wrong. Explaining our expectations, giving options, use fewer words, and use a low tonality voice, making eye contact, the garden of Eden rule: saying yes to most everything and reserving the no to those few nonnegotiable things… It’s been a fun project.
I was inspired to pick up and read again a book I bought from ARFO called: The Connected Child. The first rule I was reminded was: don’t delay correction.During this quarantine, some days I have been tired and emotionally exhausted, and on a few occasions I chose to let it slide: Jackie blatantly crossed safety boundaries or spoke rudely to her grandparents. And the trend was only going downhill. We took the time to reset boundaries, enforce promised consequences, and reconnect. The peace and the sense of balance reestablished was worth the effort. As conrad said: kids want boundaries, though they wouldn’t admit it, and to know that we are strong and present to enforce them, and thus to assure them that we are in control in this chaotic pandemic world.
The second video has to do with the three rules of our household. Listen, respect and always tell the truth.
Make eye-contact If you want to make sure you are heard, get down to your kid’s level, and patiently ask them to look at you. “I want to see your pretty eyes”. Once you make eye-contact, tension dissipates and the kid can hear you better.
The garden of Eden rule: many wholehearted permission YESs and few non-negotiable NOs.
Don’t nag. I’m not talking about repeating instructions with a kind voice and in creative new ways. I’m talking about repeating the same exasperated command over and over again, expecting a different result (as we all know, that’s the definition of insanity 😉
I said something about blatant defiance, and light defiance. And how we can defuse the bomb by either using light humor to bringing back the respect in the conversation, or standing firmly in our tracks and make it clear: “it is not appropriate to speak like that to me.” Kids learn quickly what respect looks and feels like and, to my delight, I heard my daughter use these same words with some mean kids.
I talked about options. I learned about this trick as an adult and was unsure how to feel about it, because giving kids two options you want anyway seemed slightly manipulative. But kids love options and need to feel some control over their lives. So I’ve decided that options are good. It just takes some forethought on the parent’s part to offer it clearly and wisely.
We need to set boundaries and occasionally enforce consequences. I realize many parents bite more than they can chew when they make statements in the heat of the moment, threats of consequences they see only too late, as unreasonable. Then they are faced with a predicament: do they follow through or forgo the unreasonable consequences? Admitting our haste and anger, humbly apologizing for it, then setting better expectations – that might save the day. And strengthen the connection.
And my favorite one – the voice of authority. Just a few octaves lower than normal. Using fewer words. Calm and firm. Sends the message that you want them to succeed and that you are also in control.