Stress-Free Discipline

Simple Strategies for Handling Common Behavior Problems

 Stress-Free Discipline

Authors: Sara Au, Peter L. Stavinoha
Pub Date: April 2015
Print Edition: $14.95
Print ISBN: 9780814449097
Page Count: 240
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814449103

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Excerpt

Introduction and Philosophy

Tantrums! Homework! Mealtime! Bedtime! And then there's the attitude starting. . . .

If you're parenting a child, you're under a lot of stress, and that stress is most pronounced when you're dealing with a behavioral problem. Kids are also under a lot more stress today, so it's no wonder that clashes are frequent and that common ­ground seems rare. But it doesn't have to be that way. You can use discipline to cultivate a positive relationship with your child and alleviate many behavioral issues.

Start by taking a moment to think about what the term discipline means to you. If you're like many people, you may interpret it as synonymous with punishment. Within the pages of Stress-Free Discipline, we'll broaden that interpretation.

Discipline is counseling, consoling, coaching, ignoring, practicing, praising, and sometimes punishing, according to the values of your family. Discipline is an investment in your child's future, not just the correction of the behavior in front of you at any given moment. Discipline is shaping your child's behavior toward the outcome you want. More than anything, discipline is education.

It's essential for you to understand that discipline is not simply punishment--that punishment is simply one method of discipline. This book offers a whole new repertoire of strategies on a par with punishment to put in your parenting arsenal, including positive reinforcement, role-modeling, and restitution. We will teach you to learn from each experience handling a behavioral situation with your child and to self-correct your approach. Additionally, you need to examine your own life choices, such as how busy you are, your time and resources, as well as your own relationships and self-care, to see how they fit in with your child's behavior.

Children need to feel loved by the person or persons parenting them and to know their value in the world. But love is not the same thing as permissiveness. Parental love means saying no to your child at times when it's in her best interest. Love is inextricably intertwined with discipline. Taken together, love and discipline form the most solid foundation for life that can be provided to a child.

Picture yourself as a gardener just starting to organize and cultivate an overgrown backyard. You first must make a plan for what you're going to plant and where you're going to plant it. You then have to start weeding, being careful to identify what is growing before you decide to pull it out or keep it. After that, you need to till the soil, turn it over with fertilizer, and, finally, plant the seeds. But planting is just the beginning. You've also got to water the garden and nurture its growth. And, of course, you have to keep feeding, watering, and monitoring your plants on a regular schedule.

We'll be doing all that with you as you learn how to tend the garden that is your family. Just as different plants need different kinds of care, soil, and sunlight, each of your children will need his or her own version of your discipline approach.

An understanding of your child's motivations will help you weed out some bad behaviors from his garden and till the soil for the new seeds. Being an attentive parent is like a regular watering schedule: It nourishes your child. Before long, seedlings will mature into young plants, stretching green leaves up into the sky to capture as much sunlight as possible and drilling roots to anchor themselves tightly to that which fortifies them. Love and discipline root your child deeply, so he grows straight and strong, and doesn't bow to negative influences later in life. Good disciplinary methods will help your child blossom and grow into a strong, healthy, thriving, beautiful individual.

Getting your child from where she is today to where you want her to be as an adult is what parenting is all about, so before we get into tips, tactics, and psychological insight, let's start with an affirmation for you:

Now, we authors are parents, too, and we know it's not that easy to hold onto a positive thought like this when you're in the thick of a difficult situation. Without a crystal ball, it's really hard to know if what you're doing is right, especially when every day seems to bring another problem. That's really the crux of why we wanted to write Stress-Free Discipline: to explain why kids behave the way they do and help you connect the context of those whys to your response to their behavior. Once you understand the why, you can figure out how to make some changes.

Positive behavior is a skill that all children have to acquire, just like potty training, learning how to pump their legs on the swings, and saying the alphabet. Children are not born knowing all the rules, boundaries, and manners of good behavior. They don't know how to peacefully resolve conflicts with siblings and peers, how to settle down for bed, or that certain words are off limits in our society. Those are things that have to be specifically taught, cultivated, and nurtured.

Stress-Free Discipline begins by explaining that behavior is communication. Part I consists of an explanation of the ABCs of behavior, which allow you to decode what your child is trying to tell you when he or she acts out. Whether you're about to embark on this leg of your parenting journey and are looking to smooth the path ahead, or if you're already down the road, wondering if you took a wrong turn, our 16 Universal Strategies will help you avoid or defuse difficult situations, stop the bad behavior, and forge a positive direction forward with your child.

Part II offers an in-depth look at some of the most common situations in which your child may exhibit behavioral challenges: tan­trums, homework, mealtime, bedtime, and attitudes. Complete with examples and even sample scripts you can use with your child, this section provides response tactics that align with the basic tenets of child development and help you handle every problem that arises in a calm, stress-free, confident manner.

Part III is all about proactive steps you can take to develop the kinds of positive characteristics in your child that will help her grow into a happy, productive, and fulfilled adult with whom you continue to have a loving relationship. From the essentials of a healthy social network to instilling a sense of resilience and grit, this discussion will benefit your entire family.

Finally, in Part IV, we'll take you through the kinds of red flags that may signal your child is under too much stress and that you might need to consider seeking professional help. There's no rhyme or reason to how any individual will respond to a particularly stressful situation, but we'll go through some common scenarios and give you guidance in making a decision.

By investing substantial time and strategic effort now, you can set positive habits and behaviors that show up naturally in your child when he is older. Discipline is very much a long-term process: It's never easy, and it can be exhausting to keep up with it all, but it pays off when you see the wonderful person your child is growing into with your guidance. Keeping a long-term perspective is key to removing the stress you may feel while parenting. Understanding the reasons behind your child's behavior, and being able to react appropriately, will further reduce strain. This is the Stress-Free Discipline philosophy.

Love is inextricably intertwined with discipline.

Behavior is communication.

Discipline is very much a long-term process.

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