Part 2 – I Definitely Have Some Positive Self-Discipline to Do
Last month, I shared with you the degree to which I was disciplining my children from unconscious patternings that I didn’t know existed. As a young mother – the woman that I was 35 years ago, I wasn’t considering the long term results of what I was practicing in regard to discipline. I just wanted my children to do what I wanted them to do, when I wanted them to do it. I wasn’t successful, and in their teens our relationship degraded to virtually nothing. They couldn’t wait to move out of the house. Fortunately, I’ve done a lot of work on myself and am grateful that I’ve become a different person, which translate into being a much more effective mom – even to grown children: We never stop being parents.
As a child, what I wanted most in life was to have children, which I assumed meant engaging in a dynamic, loving and respectful life together until I died. I assumed I had the wherewithal to discipline appropriately and lovingly, yet I didn’t know what I didn’t know, regarding those hidden patterns that caused my relationship with my children to go the way of my relationship with my parents. Not even my training as a marriage and family therapist made a dent in my patternings.
Learning to Do it Different
When we want to learn something, when we have a true connection to someone, something or ourselves, generally we willingly step into a positive relationship with them, and practice the necessary skills to have what it is we say we want. That means we discipline ourselves in order to have what we want.
When we have a healthy relationship with ourselves, we forego guilt, shame, and self-flagellation, because we know none of that works – ever. We understand that practice makes perfect, and discipline is a necessary element of practice. We attend to thoughts and actions and how they either bring us joy and fulfillment, or they bring us something else. We learn the practice of positive discipline through this process of mindfulness. How do we translate this into our relationship with our children?
The WHY of Discipline
As an adult who has children or works with children, what is the source of your desire to discipline? What are the values by which you operate or wish to operate? Why Discipline? Is it to connect and engage with your children? Is it to teach them to be social? Is it to be undisturbed by them? Why discipline?
A life coach worth their weight in salt is a thinking partner for their clients. They create a space within which the individual looks hard and deep at all the ways they’ve avoided and ignored the practice of self-discipline, in their thoughts, words and deeds! We ask how is it that in any individual’s life there are areas where they are highly disciplined, and are areas where they seem to lack discipline altogether, or not enough to create the results they desire? How do any of us choose how much discipline to implement in any part of life. It comes down to what we want and what we want to avoid. It is what we value enough that we willingly discipline ourselves to have the outcome we want.
Essentially, I believe that everyone who attends to the development of children requires the development of basic coaching skills – the ability to distinguish when one is in alignment with their highest values and highest truths and when they aren’t. Parents, teachers, coaches, ministers, as well as grandparents and guardians, who are effective in their roles as stewards, question themselves and their motives. This allows them clarity, regarding what they truly want in their relationship with their children.
Discipline is required to promote all relationships, whether it be social, personal, or to cultivate mastery in the arts, education, athletics, business or spiritual practices. To whatever degree it is that you want to be accomplished, discipline is a necessary tool in one’s toolbox to make that happen!
Without discipline a person would be unable to sustain relationships with any aspect of life. They wouldn’t be able to feed, clothe or shelter themselves, and they would be unable to sustain relationships that enhance familial, social and cultural connections. Survival requires discipline.
Depending on the severity of an environment, discipline was cultivated primarily through punishment, shaming, guilt, ridicule, as well as rejection, and for some families and cultures these practices are still in place. It makes sense that if survival of an individual, family or cultural is at stake, discipline will align itself with the value of survival.
So in a sense all discipline is positive if it is seen as a way to instill values and principles of one’s familial and cultural norms. As we consciously evolve and cultivate awareness, we begin to see that our civilizations, in their essence, desire that each of us thrive in own ability to freely think, feel, and act in alignment with the highest values known – not only to survive but to thrive. Tactics of fear and rejection won’t get us there. Perceiving and interpreting an individual’s actions in their highest light, does.
So essentially, as adults, what we want is to cultivate within ourselves and our children a capacity to choose to act in alignment with what it is we say we want. This requires an ability to train ourselves to do what is in alignment with what we want, and control impulses that interfere with following the trajectory of our intended results.
As we take on the role of parents, we read about how to discipline our children without ever taking into consideration that what is required is that we have to discipline ourselves first, in order to discipline our children. And, more importantly, what is required is that we clarify what it is we are desiring through disciplining ourselves and our children. What is the inevitable outcome of the practice of discipline?
As is true with any practice that cultivates emotional intelligence, what is required is that we start by getting clear about the intention of our desires for ourselves and our children. Until we are clear, our practice of discipline will be inconsistent, which inevitably works against us and works against our children too.
If you were my client, and what you wanted from our work together is that your children would be more disciplined, that they would not only listen to you, but they would participate with enthusiasm in life as a family – the first question I would ask you is – what is it that you see yourself having when your child is disciplined, listening and participating enthusiastically as a family member? The answer to this question will reveal volumes, not only about what you are wanting to get from a well-disciplined child, but what are the values and principles that are foundational to your family life.
Beginning Positive Discipline
Bottom Line: Here are some practices – some disciplines, if you will, that will assist you in clearly defining the values of positive discipline. Notice what you do with this list; you may choose to ignore it, postpone it, deny the value of it – just notice. This too will speak volumes about how you participate in your own practice of positive self-discipline.
1) List the values that you want to instill in yourself and your children.
2) Notice when you act in alignment with the values you’ve listed, and when your actions are contrary to those values (Your children will pick up more readily on your actions – ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS!) (Perhaps make a second list of values with which your actions are aligned.)
3) Make incremental steps to implementing positive discipline in your life. It takes a lot of mistakes to become a master at anything. And in honor of the practice of positive discipline, respect what it takes in you to make the shifts you are making – it is HUGE!
4) Acknowledge all that you are doing well as a parent, teacher, or steward of children. And, acknowledge all that your children are doing that is brilliant, wonder-full, delightful, and childlike, even if it drives you crazy! They, like you, are learning to be in a world with no one way to be, except to be true to their hearts and their souls.