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Three questions to help guide you when disciplining your child

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment

After disciplining one of the kids, I often catch myself evaluating whether I did it “right”.  Part of that feeling is generated by whether I am following my values or whether I just reacted to the situation without thinking.  Of course, as parents we are human and we will never do things perfectly. We are going to lose our cool from time to time and not respond in ways that we wish we had in retrospect. But it often helps to be prepared for situations.

Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker, authors of Attached at the Heart, discuss the following three questions to ask yourself as you interact with your child.  At times when it is easy to lose your cool, these three questions can help you be effective in your communication with your child:

  1. Am I treating my child the way I would want to be treated (=take your child’s perspective)
  2. Will my words or actions strengthen my connection with my child?
  3. Will my actions give my child an opportunity to learn from this experience?

I think number 3 is especially key.  I remember reading a story once about a boy who broke a glass vase after having been asked repeatedly to be careful not to run around the house. The boy’s father calmly asked his son to help him clean up the broken vase and save money to contribute to a new vase. The father never yelled or punished the boy. It always struck me how, in that story, the child probably learned many lessons but the connection between the boy and his father was never affected. It is not easy to be that reflective and not let emotions of anger or frustration get in the way, but it is something to strive for.

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