Behaviour: Behavior or behaviour is the range of actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with their environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment. It is the response of the system or organism to various stimuli or inputs, whether internal or external, conscious or subconscious, overt or covert, and voluntary or involuntary.
‘It wouldn’t do for us all to be the same!’ my Dad used to say. It’s amazing the silly little things you remember from someone who is no longer around. And scary how much you forget. But this little phrase has stuck with me over the years. Whenever I have a differing of opinions with someone, or start to be Mrs Judgey Mcjudgerson, I think to myself how dull life would be if we were all the same. How boring relationships and friendships could be if we didn’t all bring a myriad of different things into them. There are certainly positive things that come out of us all being different, and then there are undoubtedly some negative things. And if there is one area where everyone is doing it differently, it’s parenting. How we sleep, how we feed, how we school, or discipline our children, we all do it differently. But do we respect that? Often no. Parents are often very quick to criticise others and judge them on situations they know nothing about. I was recently judged by someone regarding my daughter’s behaviour, someone who probably doesn’t to this day realise that they made me feel judged. It’s not nice. It made me cry and do something I hate, which is doubt myself. They didn’t know my background, or my daughter’s and judged me on a two minute conversation I’d had with her. Anyway, I digress. The point I wanted to discuss in this post about us all being different, is about the differing ways we discipline our children, and whether our methods help our children to understand their actions, or shame them into feeling bad?
Yesterday I was involved in a Twitter chat about discipline and for a while it was difficult to work out if we were singing from the same hymn sheet or not, but we were both very respectful of the other’s opinions, using them to back up our own. It got me thinking. Disciplining children is often a hot topic for debate, many thinking that it should be simply black and white, right or wrong, and then there are others who adopt a kindness approach where they try and understand the children’s feelings and use this to help them understand that what they have done maybe wrong. Discipline is often historically though of as something which is based upon rewards and consequences. Children are often either praised for what they have done right, or disciplined for something they have done wrong. But are they ever allowed to have their feelings justified? Are they ever allowed to explain why they did something? Talk about how they felt? And if they were, would this be a more effective way of teaching them about what is/is not acceptable behaviour? Bad behaviour often stems from fear, or anger, or confusion. It often stems from an emotion, or an inability to control an emotion. And more often than not it stems from curiosity, from wondering ‘what would happen if?’ Maybe instead of telling your child off for them flooding the bathroom from experimenting with water, you could dunk them in the bath with all the tools they need to explore this further. Instead of criticising them for breaking a toy on purpose, explain that this isn’t how we treat our belongings, and then give them something they can rip, tear, break so they continue to learn and discover. Obviously hurting other people doesn’t fall into this category, but if they are frustrated and need to kick or punch or bite, give them something they can do this to. And then talk about their feelings when they’ve calmed down. Justify those feelings, tell them you know they are feeling angry, but that they must never hurt others. Bottling up angry feelings doesn’t ever have a good outcome, and a tantrum is simply a child trying to communicate to us how they feel.
Children in my opinion have an innate need to please, and crave endless attention. If they are often referred to as naughty and through being ‘naughty’ is how they get all of their attention, is it any wonder that they spiral into a succession of wrong doings or become fearful of experimenting, of using their imagination and nurturing their natural curiosity? Wouldn’t it be easier to say that what they are DOING is ‘naughty,’ not that THEY are naughty? (Personally I don’t even like to use the word naughty!) Sadly I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation that we’ve misjudged, and have fallen into the trap of making empty threats (I did this once, never again!) that are never going to be carried out. I think we need to be consistent, children need to know what is and isn’t acceptable, but they also need to understand why these things are or aren’t acceptable, and then they need to be taught to recognise, understand and manage their feelings.
And finally…NEVER forget the power of LEADING BY EXAMPLE, the more you show your children how to treat others, how to behave in certain situations and how to look after their belongings…then the more they will DO THE SAME!
So, what are your thoughts on discipline and behaviour?