The ways we were disciplined, the ways we were taught to discipline our children (and still are being taught to do so), are fraught with unnoticed misunderstandings and principles about children and learning - even in today’s early education teachings.
Example 1: There is a "law of human behavior" that occurs virtually every time we attempt to correct our children’s behavior: force (intentional or not) causes resistance. This is demonstrable in human beings in virtually every culture and at almost every age, as we have seen in many workshops. This unintentionally-caused resistance obscures belonging (the sense of being loved unconditionally and supported by parents) and runs head-on into another innate drive, self-determination (autonomy, in psychology). This leaves us parents having to choose to validate one and interfere with the other, and this is the dilemma we face. And what our children see, hear, and learn from us as we attempt to navigate this dilemma influences how they deal with us and others as they grow up.
We do our best. We read. We listen. We attend parenting classes or teacher education on how to discipline our “misbehaving” (an oxymoron itself) children. Parenting philosophies and methodologies may talk about authoritarian vs. permissive "styles," and most settle on a third offering, "authoritative parenting," described as more child-centered, less controlling with more permissions. This does not fully solve the problem, however. How do we figure out how much permission or control is too much or too little in those moments? And what happens we disagree about this with our parenting partner?
And that still does not solve the other half of the problem - our children's ongoing and important autonomy issue. Except in matters of health, safety, and our own parental well-being, limiting your child’s autonomy also limits their learning - especially self-confidence and skill development (all areas!). And our navigating our parenting is can be learning process, but the problem is frequently that our children both learn and adopt (yes, both!) our relational strategies and contexts. They learn to use them on others, and turn the tables on us!
These issues resolve beautifully from participating in The Curriculum. Learning to navigate relational issues and differences in a win-win context is almost unheard of in today’s world. It is a fringe benefit of Parenting for Partnership.
Example 2: A relational (belonging) issue is exacerbated when we get upset with our child's behavior, as that is seen in those moments by our child as our withholding our love and support from them (even when we think we are hiding our being upset!). We misunderstand why we - all of us - get upset, but that’s not our fault. We have been taught, as our parents were taught, intentionally or not, that we should not get upset, that there is something bad or wrong about getting upset.
Thus, in our everyday life, getting upset is something we think we should try to avoid and teach our children to stop getting upset. And we do get upset, we feel guilty (or perhaps righteous!). Then we we feel like we're doing bad parenting, and our child or partner “needs” to get better, needs to get in control. And that point of view takes away our energy, our time, and zaps our affinity and playfulness.
Consider that we, and every other healthy human being, gets upset when we don't get what we want or what we expect. That is true for us, our parents, and our children too. In that sense, it is normal and sensible for any of us to get upset whenever we didn't get something (or got something we didn’t want) that we expected at the time. That is, our getting upset only means that we are a healthy functioning human being. Think about it. Recall the last time you got upset with someone. Did you - in the moment - think, "Oh, I think I'll get upset now"? The second most important thing about knowing this meaning of getting upset is to share it with your family - your children, your partner(s). I underline: there is nothing wrong with getting upset, and trying to not be upset when you are takes away your energy, your time, and your sense of self-efficacy. And trying to get others to stop being upset only helps maintain their upset and can undo your relationship. A new and guilt-free way of having upsets fade away is demonstrated in all of our classes.
This takes learning new approaches, practice, and coaching because we are now wired to resist being upset (or feel really guilty about it) as well as avoid or berate being around others who are upset.
This begins to be seen in A Path to Partnership session, and skills in dealing with upsets are explored and practiced in The Curriculum.