When your child looks at you like their hands are proverbially caught in the cookie jar, take a look at the way you discipline. As a matter of fact, you might want to re-visit the origin of the word discipline–knowledge (Latin and Old English) or punishment (Old French). I prefer the Latin root (no offense to the French). The Latin root of disciplining means to teach or create learned followers. Without realizing it, you may be scaring your children when you are correcting, rather than teaching them to be learned thinkers.
For correction or corrective parenting to work to support behavior change, you must have your relationship hat firmly affix to your own prefrontal cortex or you may be instilling fear of you into your child. Fear of you is just that–fear of you. Fear creates memory blocking cortisol to your child’s brain, effectively making you mute to your child’s learning center. The negative behavior you were trying to stomp out will persist in one form or another and your child will look caught or in trouble no matter what you are saying.
Be a gentle, sage teacher to your child and s/he will learn to be disciplined from the inside out. That’s the best way to become a learned person with a solid sense of self in the face of adversities of life.
Ce Eshelman, LMFT is the author of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief for Adoptive Parents and an Attachment Specialist at The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships.
The next 8 hr. Trust Based Parent Training is scheduled for April 23rd and 30th from 12noon to 4pm. $200 per couple. Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up email Jen@attachplace.com and she will register you.