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No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 2

In my previous article “No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 1,” I began to discuss the three principles of parenting as created by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson in their book “No Drama Discipline.” This week, I will continue to discuss the first principle, Turning Down the Shark Music. Please refer to the previous article for an introduction of the concept. Last article, we looked at a family scenario and discussed what parenting with shark music may look like based on the children’s previous behaviors. Now, let’s look at this same situation from the perspective of a mindful parent, absent of shark music clouding one’s judgment.

A parent has two children: Jessica, 17, and Daniel, 15. The parent checks the children’s grades at the end of the quarter to find both are not doing well. For Jessica, this is typical. However, for Daniel, the once straight-A student has mostly B’s and a D. The parent takes a second to stop and think about how he or she will react to each child. The parent approaches Daniel first, and states the following, “Hi Daniel. I was looking at your report card today. It sounds like this was not a good semester for you. I understand that as you get older, your grades may not be what they used to be. Unfortunately, based on our house rules, I am going to ground you for three days. How do you think we could increase that D to a C-?”

The major part of being a present, or mindful, parent is the ability to be flexible (response flexibility) and the ability to empathize and connect during discipline. In the above situation, the parent addressed the specific needs of Daniel, an individual child, without comparing him to his sister (as seen in our previous article). Furthermore, the parent looked at this specific situation with the current facts (i.e. acknowledged the D in chemistry instead of yelling at Daniel for being irresponsible) instead of clouding the situation with past expectations for Daniel (i.e. knowing he was previously a straight-A student) or the parent’s own future fears (i.e. the parent fearing Daniel will not go to college).

Being a mindful parent can be challenging, and some days will be better than others. It’s important for a parent to become aware of the shark music blaring in his or her ear before interacting with the child. Furthermore, a parent needs to remember to adjust expectations and understand that a child may need more time to develop. Part of parenting is teaching and guiding children to be successful in the adult world. Sometimes, especially when there are multiple children in the home, a parent may get stuck in assumptions around comparing siblings and/or comparing the child to the parents’ own successes or failures. It is not uncommon for a parent to project his or her own life path and/or choices unto the child. But remember - the child is an individual. It is vital to view the child with a blank state in each and every situation so the parent can act in the present and not base discipline on an emotional trigger of the past and/or worry of the future.

If you feel that you could use more information about parenting, or would like to create a space to discuss your own upbringing, therapy can be a great place to start. If you are hesitant to start therapy or have any questions about it, please contact us at Hilber Psychological Services. You can also visit our FAQ for any general questions you may have.

Tune back next time as we begin to examine the second of three principles, Chasing the Why, based on the book “No Drama Discipline” by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson.