Parenting Tips

Key Ideas – Dr Anna Martin on – As seen on TV3, The AM Show, 6th July 2017

Key Finding 1:

  • The findings of the study indicated that the discipline process is more about the parent than it is about the child.
  • The findings of the study demonstrated that most parents often misinterpret their child’s behaviour – meaning we get it wrong. So often parents are more than likely punishing behaviour they have interpreted incorrectly. There is a reason why parents respond this way. 

Key Finding 2:

  • Parents have already made the decision what happened to cause the discipline event, how it is going to unfold, and what the consequence is likely to be. These decisions are done outside of their awareness and at lightening speed. Therefore, parents are not approaching the discipline event based on current knowledge, but instead information based on other influences such as:
    • societies external expectations (how we think we should deal with our children and how we have been told our children should behave)
    • patterned communication which has already been established – meaning the parent and child already know how things are going to unfold as this process has been well-entrenched since the child’s birth, and
    • our own childhood experiences impact on the discipline process – we carry forward how we were treated and our entrenched ideas of the children’s position in society and how we should behave towards them

Key Finding 3:

  • Children do not get a voice throughout the discipline process. For children to adopt the goals or lessons their parents are trying to impart children need to be involved in the discipline process. It is a fallacy to believe that naughty children do not deserve a voice. Our beliefs limit the ability for children to share their perspective. The findings of the study showed that parents often perceive children as trouble-makers and should just do as they are told. If we have this mindset we are not going to approach the discipline process in a productive way.

Key Finding 4:

  • Smacking your child is harmful to your parent/child relationship. Not only is this a poor form of modelling, but parents rationalise why they might do this. It is not helpful to suggest that “I was smacked and I turned out ok”. Parents are busy and when frustrated it is difficult to think clearly, but there are some better or more helpful ways to respond to your child.


Parenting Tip One:

  • When you as a parent feel frustrated with your child and believe they are behaving in an unhelpful manner, an important point to remember:
    • STOP – (if no one is in danger) and remind yourself to slow down and ask your child (or children) what happened. Unless you were there you cannot make a judgement call, but you can act and negotiate boundaries.
    • Once you have listened to your child, repeat back to them what you have heard, to ensure you have understood their perspective to ensure beliefs or preconceived ideas have not got in the way of their narrative.
    • If there was inappropriate behaviour explain your concerns and ask your child what they think should happen under the circumstances.
      • If your child is too young for this process provide two or three fair alternatives so they are actively involved in the discipline event outcome.
  • This approach helps the discipline event become a predictable, understandable and a consistent process and allows for a safe environment for children to express their deeper concerns.

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