We have watched so much happen in the press regarding children and teenagers and the violence in the world. We have witnessed how very young individuals with significant struggles become violent, with no apparent explanations, and commit horrid acts against others. Even when what is going in in their private world is revealed, it is still hard to comprehend how they could draw the conclusions they do then commit extreme and heinous acts.
10 Principles to encourage discipline . . . what next?
In the past few weeks, we have been working through 10 Principles of Encouraging Discipline in Children that are in our care. If you followed my posts, you can easily see that these healthy principles have not been punitive but rather consequential. They also have required that you continually preserve your relationship with your child.
The principles explain about creating a partnership with your child, working with the child to help him/her discover how to gain self-control (self-regulation). This developmental process emphasizes building ever-deepening relationships from which you and your child benefit as you learn your child’s needs, temperaments, predispositions and limitations.
The intended outcomes of healthy discipline encourage our children to establish stable moral values, grow self-confidence and self-esteem, be aware of the needs of others, learn to express their feelings and frustrations, have a place to process their anger and other emotions, and recognize and regulate any emotions or behavior that are inappropriate and destructive.
Discipline is not punishment.
Imagine a world where our children are raised with parenting that provides appropriate consequential discipline while building relationships. If discipline occurred in this way, I believe we would see a significant downturn in many of the negative statistics that we are finding with so many children and teenagers. There would be fewer children and teens reacting to labeling, inferiority, depression that could lead to aggressive behavior.
Providing emotional and relationally healthy discipline builds healthy kids. It provides them with the tools to navigate a plethora of significant issues that every child will face at some time in life.
Don’t ignore the signs that are already evident.
If parents and caregivers have identified a child with serious behavior problems that are resistant to healthy discipline principles, they should not ignore those signs. Take them seriously and get help from a qualified professional.
Our society is blessed with many great therapists who specialize in children’s issues. We know from research that dealing with special needs and behavioral problems as soon as they are detected is critical to helping children to overcome those challenges. Left unattended, these problems can escalate.
Once our children enter teenage years, they have access to an adult world that can sometimes become very dangerous. Being proactive to address behavioral issues is most helpful.
Further, it will be important for parents and caregivers to realize they must be intentional and preventative in their approach to raising and disciplining our children. Intentionality requires time and commitment. However, in so doing, we will stand a much better chance of having a world that is more safe and secure for our children.
The primary relationships that are most important to our children are right in their own homes. Maximize our impact at home, and maybe we can prevent some of the tragedies that devastate our lives, our schools and other public places.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network