Somewhere along the line I found myself moving in parenting from searching for discipline methods that really work to trying to teach self-discipline. As the kids get older and I as their mom get a tad bit wiser, those naughty little moments and tantrums with full-frontal flailing on the floor moments have subsided. They are being replaced by lessons in self-discipline. I’m certain that part of it is age (for them as well as for me), but I think a larger part of it has to do with the outlook we have. I was reminded recently of the difference that parental mindset has on things such as discipline when I read Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behavior Without Whining, Tantrums & Tears – the no-cry discipline solution, by Elizabeth Pantley.
Can You Really Discipline without Tears?
If your kids cry when you lay down the law, when they can’t have their way, or just because the wind blows the wrong direction, Pantley claims to have some discipline solutions that will help dry the tears and end those behaviors. According to Pantley, discipline for children requires three “Big Cs” of parental discipline:
3 Cs of Parental Discipline
Cooperation – Parents need to have a “bag of tricks” that will help enlist the cooperation of their kids. Cooperation games might include friendly challenges to see who can unload the groceries the fastest, telling a story where cooperation was needed for a happy outcome, or using the 5-3-1 Go! technique.
- 5-3-1 Go!
This technique is a fair warning system where parents give a countdown (i.e. – You have 5 last minutes before we leave the park. Now you have 3 final minutes to choose your last activity here. OK – 1 minute left, so please choose to go down the slide or cross the monkey bars one final time.). This technique teaches kids that you are aware of their want to stay, so you are giving them fair notice of their remaining time – no surprise announcements.
Communication – Pantley describes several principles of effective family communication that I have found to be solid foundations in our home.
- Make it brief, make it clear – The more I talk the less the kids seem to hear, so I need to pare down my sentences and make sure I get the point across in the first minute.
- Think it, say it, mean it, do it – One of the biggest stumbling blocks I have had is not requiring the follow-through on the things I have communicated are important to me. Then I get frustrated when the chores aren’t done or the behaviors didn’t change. When I think it, say it, mean it, and do it, I make sure there is follow-through before the frustration sets into my home. When we don’t have follow-through our kids learn that their responses to us are optional.
Consistency –From the first day we bring them home, children rely on predictability. Eating, sleeping, and bathing are the first routines we give our children, and this grows from there into predictable patterns of our behaviors and reactions. Our kids need to know what to expect from us – it is how they learn to trust us and form secure relationships.
- Think ahead about the things in your home that you just don’t want to waiver on when it comes to expectations, and be firm with those. Then consider which things can allow for flexibility. And somewhere in between, be ready to pick your battles.
No-cry Approach Doesn’t Mean No-Emotion Approach
When I read Pantley’s books (her work often has “no-cry” in the titles), I honestly take a little bit of offense to that. Maybe it’s because I’m a crier – or as I call it – an emotionally responsive person. Yep. I weep at commercials and cry when I sing a song that holds a memory. Maybe it is because it is not my goal as a parent to raise a child who doesn’t cry. It is my goal to raise a child who is happy, generous, emotionally intelligent, faithful, and self-disciplined.
However, if you ignore the phrasing in the titles, or if you dig a little deeper into her books, you realize that Pantley is promoting an approach to discipline that means teaching emotional intelligence so that things like tears and tantrums don’t become blockades to communication, cooperation, and consistency. There is about as much possibility of communicating clearly with a preschooler who is screaming, crying, and kicking the floor as their is believing that parenting is easy. If we use these three Cs in our parenting approaches we can move a little further from the Drama Queen tears and closer to self-discipline.