Discipline is teaching, and teaching works best when there’s a relationship of trust with your child.
We build trustful relationships over time. It requires consistency and clarity and good role modelling.
If like many parents you’re unsure how to discipline your child, start by getting clear on what your core values are.
Your values are who you are right now, not in an imaginary future. To understand the values you’re teaching your child, have a look at your day-to-day behavior. These questions from the late pioneer of family therapy Virginia Satir are a good start:
- What do I teach my child about herself or himself?
- What do I teach about others?
- What do I teach about the world?
- What do I teach about life and its source, about God, mystery, the unseen?
Take an evening with your partner to explore these questions and find some common ground. Then see how you can find a way to consistently model and communicate your shared values.
As you do, your family culture becomes a teaching environment for your child. Here discipline–teaching your child how to build and sustain healthy relationships–becomes a daily practice of shared growth, rather than strenous and random efforts to control your child.