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Hilber Psychological Services

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No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 1

For the past few weeks, I have discussed the foundation for a parent to be able to connect with his or her child during discipline. In the articles “No Drama Discipline: The Foundation, Part 1” and “No Drama Discipline: The Foundation, Part 2,” I defined the terms “response flexibility” and “mindful parenting” and provided examples of what that might look like in a given situation. Today, I will begin to discuss the three principles of No Drama Discipline based on the research and book of the same name written by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson. The three principles are: 1. Turning Down the Shark Music, 2. Chasing the Why, and 3. Think About the How.

Let’s begin by diving into how to turn down the shark music.

Imagine walking along the beach. The sand grazes your bare feet as you soak in the sand's warmth. A small wave gently rolls in, covering your feet in cool water. A slight breeze cools the warm day. You can smell the salt of the ocean. You feel a sense of peace, of safety, as you continue your walk down the beach.

Now, imagine that same scenario - once again, you are walking along the beach. Suddenly, the soft sounds of the ocean disappear. You hear a song play, a familiar song, but you cannot quite recognize it. Suddenly you notice it starts to get louder and louder. It's the theme song from the movie "Jaws." Panic arises, as your heart begins to beat faster. Suddenly, this once beautiful scene has a whole new meaning, based solely on the sound in your head.

While parenting, it is not uncommon to constantly have the theme song from “Jaws” in the back of one's head. Instead of feeling calm and relaxed, parenting can create anxiety and fear. Whether stemming from worry or uncertainty, fear-based parenting focuses on the reactive self. As a result, a parent is more likely to engage in yelling or making assumptions about the child rather then seeing the situation from a blank slate. This often prevents a parent from engaging with this individual child in this individual situation.

Let’s look at an example of what fear-based parenting might look like.

A parent has two children: Jessica and Daniel. Daniel is 15 years old, an honors student, and wants to go to college to become a doctor. Jessica is 17 years old, is unsure of what she wants to do after graduation, and is barely passing her classes. When the siblings’ parent checks their grades at the end of the first quarter, the parent is shocked to see that Daniel has mostly B’s and a D in chemistry. With the shark music blaring in this parent’s ear, the parent goes to Daniel, and yells at him for being so irresponsible. The parent then grounds Daniel for two weeks and leaves the room before Daniel can say anything. Meanwhile, Jessica has four D’s and a C - the parent does not say anything to her.

In the above situation, what was the parent thinking while reading the report card? How did those thoughts affect the parent’s reaction? What were the parents assumptions in this moment? What were the parents fears? Worries? Expectations? How might this same situation change had the parent been more relaxed?

If the above scenario sounds familiar to you, don't worry - you are not alone. Parenting can be challenging, especially since parents are people too with their own stressors. Be sure to tune back soon as I discuss how a parent can go from fear-based parenting to mindful-parenting, and what that might look like.

Furthermore, if you feel that you could use extra support to manage your own stressors, therapy can be a great option. At Hilber Psychological Services we offer individual therapy, couples therapy, and family therapy. For more information, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services or contact us to schedule an appointment.