By Samhita Nandi
Counselor and Parenting Coach
Discipline is helping a child solve a problem. Punishment is making a child suffer for having a problem. To raise problem solvers, focus on solutions not retributions. L.R.Knost
Positive parenting is actually a partnership between a parent and a child. Understanding the balance of where to place our boundaries, when to encourage and where to discourage can make our job a little bit easier. Everyday interactions with our children right from getting up in the morning till going to bed are important. It is essential to be aware how we communicate with them and not turn these interactions into battles. The thing that mostly triggers irritation in children are instructional statements so coming up with different ways of presenting what we need to say can go a long way in keeping temper tantrums at bay. Rephrasing instructional statements, calm facial expression, normal voice tone and most importantly controlling our own emotional outbursts are important keys for effective communication with children.
SIX TIPS TO AVOID CONFRONTATION WITH THE RIGHT KIND OF COMMUNICATION
- Controlling Our Emotions:
An authoritative tone and a facial expression which reveals anger or irritation can instantly trigger negative emotions in children. Separating the emotion from the discipline can put us in a powerful position and help us deal with the confrontation more effectively. In order to contain a tantrum we need to control our own frustrations and portray a calm face, emotion and body language. Children are emotional mirrors and they will pick up on the emotions we are projecting for them.
- Disguising Anger with Logical Reasoning:
The focus must be to think not fight. Leading the conversations towards thinking can help us find a suitable strategy to deal with it. In a situation that may lead to a confrontation, we as parents must at all time maintain our cool and restrain from reacting with any kind of exclamatory emotion. When a child detects anger or any other negative emotion in our behavior or voice they retaliate with anger or defiance as a defense mechanism. The best way to divert a child from such a situation is to get them into a discussion mode and convince them with logical reasoning.
- Focusing on Choice and Accountability:
We get emotionally tied up with the choices that our children make as we don’t want them to face consequences. But keeping the conversation brief and at the same time making it amply clear that bad behavior is not acceptable and appropriate, can effectively communicate our point of view. Children instinctively know when they are wrong but when we use criticism or negative emotions, they tend to become indignant. Letting consequence and empathy do the teaching can be the best solution at such times. Sometimes ignoring bad behavior is great and probably one of the best methods to avoid confrontation. This means no eye contact, no verbal exchange and no physical contact.
- Allowing Them To Express Their Point Of View Freely:
Feelings are temporary and it is absolutely normal for a child to feel fearful, sad, angry or confused at times. The key is to be a patient listener when a child tries to broach a conversation. It is important not to jump to conclusions, give any advice or counter argue. Asking questions occasionally in a calm voice can be useful as it not only gives a feeling of being heard and understood but also helps the parent to assess the situation better. Help the child derive their own method to resolve the issue instead of rushing into providing a solution. This will enhance self-confidence and also inculcate the decision making ability in them. Allowing them to express themselves freely will teach the child other ways of dealing with frustration. Children who are old enough to talk can be reminded to use their words instead of screaming.
- Picking Positive Words to Communicate:
The words you choose to communicate with children install beliefs in their mind and leave an impression for a lifetime. As parents it only seems rational to come down hard, squash the bad behavior with yelling, screaming or consequences and make sure it never happens again. When it comes to good behavior, however, we often tend to let them go unnoticed and most often don’t acknowledge positive action with praise. Behavior management is not as easy as it may seem so while reflecting upon it, it is important to keep in mind that we need to reject the behavior but never the child. When faced with a challenging situation it is important to use our words wisely. Using positive statements and encouraging words instead of focusing on their faults can be more effective in the long run.
- Speaking With Respect:
As a parent we are always aware of whether the child is respectful towards us or not and if we trace any need of discipline we immediately try to steer them away from the rude behavior. However more often than not we don’t pay heed to what we say to them or how we say it. It is difficult for us to view our own actions objectively. The best way to get your child to respect others is to model respect for them. Treating your child with respect and good manners will not only strengthen your bond with the child but will also ensure that your child will treat elders, friends and teachers in their life with respect. We should also keep in mind not to say something rude/scold the child in front of their friends/ siblings or others. Public disciplining causes embarrassment for the child and also negatively impacts their self- esteem which can later lead to social awkwardness in their adult years.
Good communication is the building block of a good relationship. It is an important tool to nurture the child and build trust in them. Being aware of what is being said to the child and how will not only help avoid confrontational situations but will also help resolve them with clarity. The key is to remember that as a parent focus must always be on the child and not on what the child does.