Creative Child

Three Discipline Techniques that are Sabotaging Your Authority

by Rebecca Eanes on Jan 20th, 2017

Genuine authority is a result of others trusting your leadership. That is true whether you are running a company or a household. Contrived authority results when others follow your lead out of fear. Both get results, but the question is how does it make people feel, both about you and, more importantly, about themselves? Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper wisely said, “You manage things; you lead people.” Have you ever gotten caught in the trap of trying to manage your children? I certainly have. That’s where I was seven years ago, and the frustration that came from the constant managing and the growing power struggles that developed is what lead me to positive parenting.

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Unbeknownst to me, the discipline techniques I was using with my children in those early years was actually sabotaging my influence with them, making power struggles a daily frustration, discipline much harder, and damaging our relationship. I have since learned how to discipline without punishment, which I promise is not permissive in any way but puts the focus on having my kids understand and correct their wrongs rather than sitting in a corner somewhere, which places the responsibility of reparation on them. It takes a lot of time and effort, but the payoff has certainly been worth it.

Here are three common discipline techniques that I used years ago which actually sabotaged my authority and the reasons they didn’t work.

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  1. Time Out. According to Wikipedia, time out was invented by Arthur Staats who claimed that putting his 2 year old in her crib and indicated that she stay there until she stopped crying did “weaken the behavior so that it occurred less frequently in the future.” So he found something that worked, and now it’s a very popular discipline technique today as it is often recommended by pediatricians and other experts. The question we must always ask when it comes to parenting is why does it work? Dr. Gordon Neufeld explains that we didn’t understand at the time when time outs became popular what children really needed, and that the most wounding experience of all is facing separation. He says that if we had known that and understood it, we would never have used it because it calls forth very strong emotions in children, and they become alarmed. This alarm moves them to caution, making it appear to work, but it causes lots of anxiety in children. Time out also evokes frustration which leads to aggression problems. When parents use time out as a punishment (it can be used as a safe space to calm down, alternatively), the recurring fear of separation and social isolation breaks down our bond with them, and when connection is lost, influence is lost.
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