This weeks tool was Motivation. This tool always takes me back to the Parenting with Positive Discipline training that I took. I remember walking into the room, seeing a group of chairs forming a large circle, finding my seat and then looking around reading hand written posters on the walls. The very first poster I read said, "Children DO better when they FEEl better." I thought to myself, "Wow, that is a really nice idea!" It seemed a little obvious, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that is isn't the mainstream way of thinking.
Later that morning, as we began learning more about Positive Discipline, we discussed the common idea that we have to make children feel bad, or sorry, for their actions to get them to do better. As common a belief as this is, I was instantly struck by the irony of it! Why would anyone be inspired to do better when they are made to feel worse? I know for a fact that when people make me feel bad for mistakes or choices I have made I am not very often inspired to do better. In fact, I am usually discouraged and feel like giving up, proving them right by doing worse, or doing better in a spiteful and angry manner. People, in general, Do better when they FEEL better.
I think this idea makes sense to most people, but so often we hear parents and educators saying things like, "Children need to pay for mistakes". Somehow we have associated suffering or punishment with teaching a lesson. A lesson should not be hurtful, shaming, blaming or humiliating. Remember, discipline does not mean to punish, it means to teach.
If we want children to learn from their mistakes, we need to make them feel good first, then teach them kindly. To motivate children to do better you should look for solutions to problems with them. When children are a part of the solution they feel respected, self confident and encouraged. All this feeling good goes a long way when we are talking about learning from mistakes.
I can anticipate critiques of the post saying that what I am describing sounds very permissive, so I will address that quickly and in greater detail next week when we look at the tool: Kindness and Firmness.
A parent who is too permissive or too strict will do an injustice to their child. Children need freedom as well as limits, but there needs to be a balance that is respectful to the child, all other involved individuals and the situation. I will discuss what this looks like next week!