A key to effective discipline is to create an environment of modeling, teaching and encouraging good communication. An intentional environment of good communication typically doesn’t happen unless specific core beliefs and values are prominently enacted by parents (or others) in the home. Thus, an environment of good communication arises from some important components.
How to establish and practice good communication to promote effective discipline
The value of peace
Families that value conflict resolution and peaceful environments have little tolerance for infighting and destructive arguments and are best able to create good environments for communication. What’s more, a peaceful environment feels safe.
It follows that parents who keep their home physically, emotionally and relationally safe are going to hear more and better communication from their children and teenagers because the parents’ language and actions demonstrate a deep commitment to keep the home safe. (This precludes threats, anger, emotional abuse and physical abuse.)
Respect is a key component to any resonant environment.
Often parents demand respect but do not model respect for their kids. Respect has to be given and received by every member of the household, children and siblings included.
H.U.G.- a memorable acronym
I have referred to this in previous blog posts, but H.U.G is a commitment and set of skills careful to provide a thorough listening environment. This means that we are willing to take the time and make the effort to Hear, Understand and Give back what has been stated so that it is clear that we have understood what has been communicated. Before we react, we want to create environments in which we seek to listen and understand what someone else in the home is thinking.
Communicating on continuums
When we communicate, particularly in situations of conflict, most parents are quick to consider a rather black and white world. However, it is not helpful to swing to one side or the other, particularly for kids, when discipline is doled out in absolute terms such as “always” and “never.”
Certainly, it is easy to make global statements when we are angry, but we need to recognize that descriptive language is necessary to understanding what is really going on, and it prevents reactionary and defensive posturing that really polarizes a home. Using language on a continuum is much more accurate, clear and helpful to understand the truth of what we are attempting to communicate.
Resisting judgmental comments
One of the hard things to do is to hear our children saying inappropriate things then attempt to correct their communication. Parents who are slow to judge usually can have a much easier time keeping the communication going so they can figure out what is really happening. Harsh words or judgments can completely shut down communication.
Making the time
Our family lives are just so busy that we often have very little time to communicate.
Since my kids were born, we placed a high value on family time around dinner. Thirty years later, my sons still find the family table a good place to tell stories, share life experiences and communicate some of the difficult circumstances they face.
Without clear language and understanding…
If these communication foundational principles do not exist in a family, it will be very difficult to be clear on what is being said. Subsequently, if we are not clear on what is being said (or why), we will find it very difficult to even know what we are to discipline.
Even when we seek to discover information on which to base discipline, we will not be able to determine what really is happening if our environment is not resonant, communicative and supportive. Good communication is a significant key to good discipline.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network