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No Drama Discipline: The Foundation, Part 2

In the previous article “No Drama Discipline: The Foundation, Part 1”, I began to discuss how a parent can connect with his or her child based on the principles of Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson in their book “No Drama Discipline.” This parenting technique looks to use discipline as an opportunity to teach a child rather than to punish a child. In the last article, the terms “mindful parenting” and “response flexibility” were defined along with an example of what that might look like in a family situation. This week I will continue to reference our scenario of the two parents and their children, Kevin and Cindy, as discussed in the last article. As a recap, here was the family scenario: Both parents were cooking dinner in the kitchen when suddenly Cindy began to cry in the family room. With a past history of Kevin being aggressive with Cindy, the parents were confronted with a parenting dilemma: Do the parents assume Kevin hurt Cindy, which is why she is crying? Or can the parents remove previous assumptions about their children and enter the room with a blank slate?

Walking into any situation regarding a child can be challenging to a parent. The concept of “No-Drama Discipline” looks to take a scenario, such as our family example, and change how the family responds to a given event. One of the first steps parents need to take in order to change the relationship between parent and child is to stop making assumptions about the child. A parent can become flooded with emotions too, just like his or her child, which then becomes a reflection of a parent’s response to his or her child. If a parent is making discipline decisions while in an emotional state him or herself, the parent is missing out on an opportunity to connect with the child. It is important before making any discipline decisions for a parent to stop and think before the parent goes into “autopilot mode” and begins to react based on the child's previous behaviors.

We saw this in the first example of the family from the previous article - The parents both stormed into the family room yelling at Kevin for hurting his sister. Kevin was upset his parents accused him of something he didn’t do, both parents were elevated, and Cindy continued to cry. It may be that sometimes, when a parent makes an assumption about a child, that assumption is true. For instance, Kevin may have hit Cindy after all, just like his parents initially thought. However, a parent has to ask his or herself this - “If I go into a situation and base my parenting on an assumption, is that worth risking my relationship with my child? Do I want to be right?” By answering this question, a parent can begin to determine what parenting style works best for him or her.

No matter what type of parenting style a parent engages in, here are a few easy tips for a parent to help self-regulate his or her own emotional needs before addressing the needs of the child:

  • Stop and think. It is important for a parent to respond from a logical standpoint, not an emotional one. If you need to do this for a few minutes or in front of the child, that’s okay. By stopping and thinking before responding to a situation, a parent is actually teaching the child how to self-regulate when feeling upset.
  • Take a deep breath. Before entering a situation, take a few seconds (or minutes, if you need it) to be in a calm, relaxed state. If a parent is relaxed, he or she is less likely to be reactive to the child.
  • Think of three positive attributes about the child. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember the wonderful things about a child when the child is misbehaving. By entering a situation knowing the child’s attributes, it may soften a parent’s approach to his or her child making it easier for the parent to connect with the child.
  • Don’t show too much emotion. As discussed in the article “Parenting 101: Discipline, Part 1,” a parent that shows that he or she is really upset will merely motivate the child to continue engaging in negative behaviors. Instead, go into the situation with a calm attitude - and make sure that this is reflected in facial cues.

As a parent, it can be overwhelming balancing the needs of a spouse, a child, and/or running a household. If you feel that you could benefit from learning coping skills to manage stressors, therapy can be a good option. Whether it’s individual therapy, couples counseling, or therapy services for your child, we can help at Hilber Psychological Services. For more information, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services or contact us to schedule an appointment.

Tune back soon to continue learning the tools and skills for mindful parenting based on the book "No Drama Discipline" by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson.