Conscious Parenting Week 3: Conscious Discipline & Our Relationship with "NO" [PART 2]

[Interested in taking this class? It starts at the beginning of May this year. Sign up here: http://integralparenting.com/ref/aware/].

Integral Discipline or "Conscious Discipline"

As part of week three we discussed the 12 principles for Integral Discipline. I found this section a little hard to relate too because we had a baby, but even now as I got back through this it becomes more and more applicable. I will highlight the 12 key principles and as I mention throughout this, it really helps to hear Miriam's explanation of everything on the audio that she puts out each week for this course, as well as it was REALLY helpful for the facebook group where you could meet and discuss with everyone how it all applies for different families. 

  1. HEALTHY ATTACHMENT IS THE FOUNDATION OF HEALTHY DISCIPLINE: When they feel safe, secure and grounded in you, the boundaries become clearer and more trusted. There are many studies that show that a well-attached child is generally well-behaved. They trust and respond in ways to you that only a great attachment can give. It is never too late to build a strong, trusted connection
  2. KNOW YOURSELF: This is the part where you really get to see who you are. The way you parent usually is a direct reflection of how you were parented. You get to see what triggers you or where you may be projecting your own fears or own desires on your child. Parenting requires that you get in touch with yourself so that you can contain your emotions, not take things personally and discipline yourself to an extent. Becoming self-aware allows us to respond with calm firmness rather than snappy, impatient behaviour. Also, children will model behaviour they see 9 times out of 10 more than they will do what they are told. Knowing yourself and how you act and react is one of the best tools we have as parents.
  3. KNOW YOUR CHILD: Getting to understand your child, their perspectives, their needs and learning styles, this all gives you a well-rounded approach to understanding them and how discipline may work to serve them and push them to be even better.
  4. CONSIDER DEVELOPMENT STAGES: This is an obvious one. Knowing where they are at helps greatly in understanding how they can act in any given situation.
  5. HOLDING MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES: When we see life from different vantage points, it can increase our ability to deeply feel where our children are at with something, even if it means this differs from our own perspective. Could it be true that no one is 'right' or 'wrong' but instead just at different places? This is a fun one, trying to see the other side.
  6. HAVE A VISION: What are we guiding our children toward? I think of this in this way: what qualities do I want Onyx to have as he grows up? Then I keep a list of those on my bathroom mirror so I can try to BE THEM. This allows me to keep a great perspective on where I am going with this crazy parenting thing! Knowing that he'll see me acting a certain way and likely mimic that, helps me to keep perspective on what I want to be.
  7. EXPANDED RELATIONSHIP TO TIME: We are run so much by the clocks in our North American way, but in reality, parenting cannot always run by the clock. Having a long-term vision can help us embrace where our child is at and help us guide them. We are all on a journey and nothing is finite. Let's remember this together the next time we are trying to run out the door and our little guy is trying to learn to tie his shoe :)
  8. MODELING THE BEHAVIOUR WE WISH TO SEE IN OUR CHILDREN: See above.
  9. KEEPING COMMUNICATION CHANNELS OPEN: I know that my mom and I talked A LOT growing up, and this helped me to feel safe to come to her when I needed too, rather than rebelling, sneaking out, or doing something behind her back...most of the time :) 
  10. ADAPTATION HAPPENS THROUGH EMOTIONS: Real changes sinks in when we truly feel it, not just when we know it. Miriam talks about how at this age, during the first five years, it's important that we don't put all of our efforts into reasoning with our children, but instead that we're there emotionally for them and help them fully feel the sadness or disappointment when they hit a boundary or a NO. This is so interesting to me, this concept, of helping them feel fully when we as a society are not encouraged to do so. It's vital to keeping their little hearts open. 
  11. WATERING THE SEEDS and FLOWERS: This is a very interesting concept and one to not be taken lightly. We so often focus on the behaviours that we need less of - that need to be changed or corrected - rather than focusing on nurturing the desirable behaviours that we would like to see more of. This is a beautiful way to 'discipline' in the sense that you actually are just encouraging more of the good rather than less of the bad. Acknowledging good behaviour and encouraging it with reinforcement is a great place to start, but even going beyond that to fostering honesty by admitting your own mistakes to your children, or showing resilience by apologizing when you do something can help to reinforce their ability to show these behaviours. 
  12. CHANGE THE ENVIRONMENT: Sometimes all a child needs is a change in environment or situation if something's going on and they are misbehaving. Did they eat well? Is it that they are in an inappropriate group for their age? It helps to analyze all factors that could be influencing bad behaviour.

That is a LOT. I am no expert and am discovering new things everyday with Onyx. I literally only have about a month of 'discipline' under my belt. But I think it all comes down to two things:

  1. Considering each moment from our child's eyes
  2. Being self-aware about where we are bringing our own 'shit' into it.

If we can do these two things, I hope we'll be okay.

Our Relationship with the word "NO"

Finally, looking at our relatinoship with the word "NO" is so vital. I already find so many times in a day when Onyx is going for something and I have to say "Not in your mouth!" or he's standing in the bath and I have to say "On your bum!" a million times. I am constantly starting these sentences with NO and it becomes a NO NO NO NO day and then you realize, that is just such a negative way to learn. For sure boundaries have to be set, but what if we were able to set our homes up so that he heard more yeses than no's? It's something I'm trying to think about in how I make up my everyday with him right now and I plan on doing more reflecting on this. Some good questions to start with:

  • What is my own relationship with the words "YES" and "NO"? And how does that affect what I share those words with my child?
    I think my personal relationship is that a NO can be said in a really controlling, dominating way, or it can be said in a fun and gentle way, and I think I have heard it that way a lot more than the opposite. This helps and I do believe makes it a bit more easy for a child to digest than just hard NOs everywhere they turn. But again, to each their own.
     
  • What parenting style do I learn toward? Am I more lenient and permissive or am I strict?
    I'm finding right now that I'm a bit of a mixture of both. There are times for leniency and times to set boundaries for sure. I am finding that I am not a hovering type of parent unless we are out and I have to give attention to Onyx or he may hurt another child. But mainly at home I let him explore.

At the end of this week, there were a lot of helpful excerpts and interviews in the course, worthy of watching if you end up taking part in it. Stay tuned for Week 4! 

[These blogs are my own interpretations of what were much larger and more detailed themes. I strongly urge people to take the time and dedication to sign up for and go through this course. It starts again May 1, 2017. You'll become a better person, not just a better parent. You gain access to a community of people who are also signed up at that time, as well as learning materials and references. It's worth it! Sign up here: http://integralparenting.com/ref/aware/.]