Here's why you might not be disciplining your child
Updated: Aug 11
Last week I talked to several moms who were ready to break the cycle of repeating themselves and begin a new chapter of calm parenting with loving consequences. These moms were all-in, they had consequences in mind, we had already talked about how to stay calm...and they still weren't doing it. They all had reasons why it was just not right to take this leap, despite all the work they had done to get ready for it. I call this the 'yeah, but' stage. When we learn about something that sounds too good to be true (like the idea that calmly speaking once and taking drama-free action is enough parenting for every situation), our minds come up with lots of yeah-buts (aka lies) to keep us stuck in our old habits. For example...
"Yeah, but disciplining them really punishes ME more than them!"
This is a matter of finding the right strategy for you. One of my clients last week told me she had been cancelling her kids' playdates as a consequence for unkind behavior. "But that's a big inconvenience for me and it puts the other mom in a bad spot." So, she was letting them get away with a lot of bad behavior and giving them second and third chances because she really didn't want to get stuck with them at home and have an awkward conversation with another mom. Was it a logical, fitting consequence? Yep. Was it the right one? No! If you pick a plan that sucks for you, you won't use it. This also applies to strategies you don't believe in; if it feels wrong to you, it is! The truth is that when we intentionally think about what feels right to us and won't ruin our day, it's easy to discipline kids without torturing ourselves.
"Yeah, but if I consequence them, they'll flip out and I'll have THAT to deal with."
I get this concern a lot: What if this leads to worse rebellion, a spiral of consequencing, and even more chaos in the home? It's easy to believe that disciplining kids is just MORE work for us, because we often feel that our child's emotions or reactions are our responsibility. The truth is that effective discipline actually decreases chaos long term, even when a kiddo freaks out in the here-and-now. Our kids' reactions and experiences to the situations they create for themselves are their own and the more we allow them to have their natural feelings about their consequences, the sooner they learn to make good choices.
"Yeah, but my situation is different."
It is so normal to see the limitations of our circumstances and feel stuck. But this place is actually optional. The truth is that whether you are married, single or separated...a bio-, step- or adoptive mom, if your kiddo is neuroatypical, gifted, or differently abled, neither of you have to settle for a dynamic that doesn't work for one or both of you. My work has taught me many times that the only thing special about a family's special circumstances is the amount of love and support we need to give to the limiting beliefs and trapped feelings holding them back.
"Yeah, but if their behavior requires a consequence, I must have screwed up."
When we think good moms have kids who are well-behaved, or that our kids' behavior means something about the quality of our parenting, we feel TERRIBLE when we have to discipline our kids. This thinking is as common as it is destructive. It leads to horrible guilt and reluctance to consequence bad behavior. We avoid discipline to avoid the feelings of failure we get when we do it. The truth is that great momming means LOTS of consequencing and total separation of our self worth from our kids' choices.
If you know you want to change your kids' behavior and the way you respond to it, but you have a lot of reservations or skepticism - we should talk. We'll talk about all the 'yeah-buts' holding you back and you'll leave our chat knowing exactly how to move forward.