Your child misbehaved at school today and hit another child. You learn of this and may be horrified that your child is a reflection of you. You may be embarrassed that a child of yours committed such an act. You know you need to teach your child that what they did was very wrong and completely unacceptable. You speak sternly or yell at them or punish them in some way. But what if you used love to discipline your child?
You know your child has been reprimanded by school authorities already and probably faced a whole other slew of problems with the child they hit. The last thing you would want to do is hug your misbehaving child. But isn’t that what love would do? Or maybe your child is now a teen, who finds hugging to be completely uncool, and the last thing you would want to do is look at them with compassion in your eyes?
If you are not your child’s ally, no matter what happens in their life, who is? Potentially no one. Love would give that child of yours a hug or a look at that teen of yours with all the compassion one could muster. Then, when your child is enveloped in your love and feels they have your trust, you ask your child what made them hit the other child. For if you don’t know their trigger, how can you prevent this from happening again? Nine times out of ten, your child will know why they hit the other child. And then once you hear their reasoning, you need to determine your thoughts on your child hitting another child. And determine what you would have done differently. Maybe you would have wanted to do the same thing. Imagine that? Now imagine saying to your child, “I would have wanted to do the same thing.” How is that for honesty? You are shocked I would say that? Why not? The trick is to then suggest another way to have handled the situation or if you don’t know, ask your child how else they could have better handled the situation. One of you will arrive at a better alternative or maybe even a few. Then the two of you can strategize how to make amends now that the damage has been done.
Now, imagine if you took it one step further? Maybe you think about your child’s misdemeanor and think back over the last few days or months and determine that you haven’t made your child feel important enough recently or allowed them to get enough sleep, for example. What would be wrong with you sharing in some of the responsibility for your child’s unhappiness, leading to this misdemeanor? Once your child knows they have done wrong and you have helped them determine how they could have handled things differently, you can then accept some of the responsibility for how they were feeling at the time and verbalize this to your child, if warranted.
You might ask, “But my child made the mistake. If I accept responsibility for any part of that mistake, aren’t I taking the responsibility away from them for the mistake they made?” And my response would be “No.” When you take some of the responsibility for what went wrong, you are teaching your child how to take responsibility for their part in things. By accepting part of the responsibility, your child feels your love and a team is born. When a child feels they are loved and on a team, the world is their oyster. It’s as simple as that. But remember, how you respond to one incident does not build a team. It’s when you respond with love, to one incident after another, over the course of many years, that the strongest team is created.
So, there is the approach that employs fear and makes your child fearful of making mistakes or fearful of others or even worse, fearful of you. Do you need to instill fear in your child? No, that is a choice you make. A fearful child does not believe in themselves. A child that does not believe in themselves has a hard time getting through any aspect of life. But then, there is this whole other approach – the approach that employs love. Which approach raises a stronger, happier child? Which approach provides a child with tools from which to draw upon for the rest of their lives? Which approach brings you and your child closer? The one that employs love.
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