Creative Child

Connection-Based Discipline

by Rebecca Eanes


Here are some steps to discipline with connection in mind.

1. Calm yourself first.

You can't help your child reach her upstairs brain until you've reached yours. Reacting angrily will only set up a negative pattern.

2. Empathize and connect to calm your child.

“I hear that you are upset.” “It's hard not getting something you really want.” “That must have really been frustrating for you.” Step into their shoes and see the situation from their perspective.

3. Once the upstairs brain is reached, work on problem solving.

Rather than dish out a punishment, teach your child to think of a solution. The following phrases are helpful to get the ball rolling. “How are you going to fix this?” “We have a problem. Can you think of way to solve it?” Younger children need more help through this process than older children, but rather than take the responsibility of their actions upon yourself by deciding an appropriate punishment, put the responsibility where it belongs, with them, and let them fix it.

Look for solutions rather than punishments. Children need to learn how to fix their mistakes, not just pay for them.

4. Reconnection.

Sometimes in the problem-solving process, your child is still going to be upset with the outcome. Maybe he has to work to pay for damages, and he's not going to be super happy about that. Even though coming up with their own solutions makes kids responsible and also more likely to feel good about doing it in the end, they certainly aren't always going to like it.

Reconnection means recognizing your child for doing the responsible thing, letting him know that you believe in him to fix his mistakes and make good choices, and moving forward with no bad feelings between the two of you.
The end goal of discipline is to teach the child how to better manage his behavior and how to correct his mistakes. He'll reach this goal more quickly when he's feeling connected, and his upstairs brain will one day thank you.

Related Article: How to Be the Positive Leader Your Child Needs

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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