Discipline = Security

So I haven’t kept up with my blog.  I just stink at it.  But sometimes I write a post on a FaceBook group and say, “hey, that is pretty good.  I should keep it for the next time I need a few reminders or a wake up call.” Here is the post I wrote this morning (edited slightly):

Children are more secure, happier, and learn the associated lessons better when discipline (teaching/guidance) is fair and consistent. Giving extra chances, saying things multiple times, responding differently each time, etc actually causes problems because they don’t know what to expect. It makes it more likely they won’t learn the associated lessons. It confuses. It really is a kindness to be firm and consistent (no need to be harsh, punitive, rude, un-empathetic, etc though, of course).

I would liken it to math. Let’s say 2+2=4 🙂 How fair to a child would it be if we let him get away with saying it was 5 sometimes? “Well, math is harder for him so give him an A.” But six weeks into the school year, he will now be saying it is five half the time because though they keep telling him it is 4, his papers are correct when he puts 5.

So then he either accidentally or intentionally puts 10 one day. The teachers get exasperated. How many times have they told him it is 4? They decide they aren’t going to let him get away with 10. He doesn’t put 10 on the page anymore because that boundary was clear and firm from the get-go. Teacher notices.

But then why is he still putting 5 when she has told him over and over it is 4? She starts resenting the 5. Or at least she decides to finally do something about it. How is THAT fair? She allowed it to go on sooo long. But she finally does let him know that 2+2=4 and only 4 will give him the points. He tests the first day. She puts X on the ones he put 5 on. He tests harder the second.  Again, she puts X on the ones he put 5 on. A week later, he starts consistently putting 4. He is much more confident and now proud of his achievement. Teacher is spending less time on such things. Everyone wins.

The same is true of behavior. We are very very strict in our home. We spend the time teaching and guiding (disciplining). We are firm but kind. We leave out almost all punishment even. But boundaries are clear and upheld so kids feel more secure and confident quickly. They also learn to trust our judgment and that we will be fair, empathetic, etc. They progress and can be proud of themselves.

I want to make it clear that strict does not mean punitive. But we take kids with severe behavioral issues. We have to help them feel secure and teach them skills quickly for their own sake as well as the safety and health of everyone in the household. It isn’t foolproof because behavior is communication and many times it takes weeks, months, even years for those big feelings causing behavior to be dealt with. But we are consistent so they know that we can handle those big feelings until they learn how to.