One Powerful Discipline Tool
Parents who discipline effectively have many parenting tools. For instance, most parents utilize rewards and consequences to teach appropriate behavior. “The Super Nanny” loves to teach families to make effective use of “time-out” and consistent routine’s to elicit positive behavior from children. I’m sure many of you can name several other tools that you have used in your parenting journey. I want to add yet another tool to our parenting toolkit; after all, the more tools we have the better work we can parent. The tool I want to add to our parenting toolkit is: (drum roll please)…the mirror!
What’s that you say? The mirror? Yes. When our children misbehave we can often gain important clues about their misbehavior by looking in the mirror. Children learn many of their behaviors from us, their parents. They imitate our positive behaviors and our negative behaviors. They even learn from our subtle behaviors, those we engage in without even realizing what we did. In fact, children often seem to pick up on our worst behaviors quickly and accurately. Who hasn’t had the experience of a toddler, at the worst possible moment, blurting out some phrase she heard her parent energetically say in a moment of frustration? Not only do children pick up and imitate our rash behaviors and subtle character flaws, they practice them as children, without adult constraint. The unfortunate truth we have to face as parents is: many times, the behavior we see in our children is a reflection of our own behavior. Watching our children’s behavior is like looking in a mirror. So,
· If your children seem ungrateful, check your own level of gratitude
· If your children seem irritable, check out your own display of irritability and frustration
· If your children seem oppositional, consider how well you accept the influence of others in your life and how you respond to other’s requests
· If your children talk back and have a “smart” attitude, consider how you talk to and about others
If you discover that your children’s behavior is a reflection of your own, take these two actions:
1. Change your behavior. Confirm the values for which you want to be remembered. Begin to act and speak in a way that will truly reflect those values in your life.
2. Apologize to your children. Apologize for setting a bad example. Let them know you are changing your behavior. Tell them why you have decided to change. And, let them know you would like them to change with you.
The mirror is a challenging, yet powerful, tool to use in discipline. It can change your life and your children’s lives for the better. Use it wisely…use it carefully…and use it often.