If you think I read a lot of parenting books, you’re probably right. It’s because I don’t know what I’m doing. And I need help. This last month the issue has been time-outs. Specifically how time-outs haven’t been that effective. But what other options are there? No-Drama Discipline has a few suggestions I’m going to try out.
But first off, it’s important to distinguish what makes No-Drama Discipline different from other discipline techniques. The goal of No-Drama Discipline is to teach children how make better choices and understand their emotions. It focuses on strengthening the relationship between the parent and child through the following principles: 1) when children are upset and throwing a fit, that’s when they need us most. 2) sometimes we need to wait until children are ready to learn, 3) the way we help them be ready to learn is by connecting with them.
What I liked about this book was that it focused on the needs of the individual child and offered flexible techniques to help discipline your child. I appreciated that the authors were realistic in their expectations that parents won’t be able to put these techniques into practice all of the time. I especially appreciated a section in the back titled, “When a Parenting Expert Loses It.” In that sense, I think the book should have been named, “Less Dramatic Discipline.”
Another thing I liked about the book was all of the visuals they included. A lot of them were cartoon scenarios of a parent disciplining a child in different ways. This really helped me understand what the authors were trying to get across.
My favorite quote from the book was: “Our kids don’t usually lash out at us because they’re simply, rude, or because we’re failures as parents. They usually lash out because they don’t yet have the capacity to regulate their emotional states and control their impulses…When children are securely attached to their parents, they feel safe enough to test that relationship. In other words, your child’s misbehavior is often a sign of his trust and safety with you.” A lot of times, I view my child’s tantrums as a sign of my failure as a parent, but this quote helped me realize that it is more a sign of the trust he has in our relationship.
What I wish the book had emphasized more is tools for parents when they feel they are going to lose it. Too often the book emphasized a parent immediately being able to empathetically rush to their children’s side. But honestly a lot of situations that call for this are ones in which I too am feeling out of control and angry. So if you are looking for ways to address that issue, I would recommend this article: What Helped Me Be A Calm Mom.
Right before I wrote this article, my son had a huge meltdown. He refused to do the things he needed to in order to go to bed. Here are how some of the techniques I tried from the book: First, I recognized that he was extremely tired. Second, I did my best to hold him (loving physical tough is highly encouraged in the book). Third, I would mirror what he said. (Ex: “You want me to play cars with you.”) Even though I didn’t commit to doing whatever he said, he at least felt heard. You know what happened? He continued to scream and cry and be unreasonable. For over 30 minutes.
The thing about No-Drama Discipline is that it isn’t a magic wand. They even say this in their conclusion! The good news is that I was at least able to feel calmer while I was trying to discipline my son. And eventually, he did calm down. Through another technique called, “getting creative.”
I remembered a book we had read months ago entitled, “Little Monkey Calms Down,” by Michael Dahl. Using my son’s stuffed monkey, I walked through some of the steps in the book, which include laying down, holding something soft, and taking deep breaths. And it finally worked! My son was able to concentrate as I used the monkey to walk him through the steps. We practiced deep breathing for a while after that. Then we were finally able to talk about how he had been feeling angry, and how next time he can take deep breaths to calm down.
We’ve still had our fair share of tantrums, but I’m hoping that the techniques from this book will be more effective than just a time-out.