Relationship: The Foundation of Discipline

Written by Dr. Carosso

The discipline trap
How beneficial is time-out, taking away the TV, or ‘grounding’ a child from going outside? Of course, as most parents have come to find, all of these discipline strategies can be effective. However, what happens if you rely too heavily on these strategies? Well, first, your household can become like a gulag; not too pleasant. Second, you and your  child will be miserable. Third, the discipline strategies become less effective.

 Relationship: Beyond Softer and Closer
That’s why I recommend relying on the ‘softer and closer approach (see the blog, “softer and closer approach”). However, no matter what discipline you attempt, it will all go to waste, and you’ll feel like banging your head against the wall, if you don’t have a healthy, positive, and pleasant relationship with your child.

 Quality and Quantity
The key to parenting and discipline is you and your child doing things together, laughing and enjoying each other’s company, and spending time (quality and quantity time) in fun activities. Actually, even ‘not so fun’ activities can be quite bonding and reinforcing (e.g. helping with homework or school project, assisting in getting your child ready for bedtime…). In any case, absent a healthy relationship, there is no glue to connect a parental directive to the subsequent (hopefully) compliant behavior. Kids comply because, ultimately, they love their parents, want their parents to be happy, want to get-along and have a good relationship, and realize that ‘we’re all in this together’ so I might as well do my part.

The fear factor
If your child is complying predominately due to a fear of punishment, then you’re in trouble. In that case, your child’s ‘compliance’ is based in manipulation and fear, and tasks are often completed superficially and marginally. 

The fun factor
Instead, build the relationship and you’ll have a disciple (a willing follower) and be less reliant on discipline. Don’t get me wrong; both are vital, but the former is a lot more fun:)

 God Bless. If this was helpful, forward to a friend, and then go have some fun with your kid.    

The Softer and Closer Approach

Written by Dr. Carosso

How it all began
Many years ago, starting out as a Psychologist, I came across a Principal who established a ritual with his teachers. At the conclusion of every morning meeting, he would huddle the teachers together and lead a chant “softer and closer” repeated four to five times, before sending the teachers off to their students. 

Repeat after me…
I am hard pressed to contemplate a more significant or relevant mantra for teachers or parents.  I have espoused the “softer and closer” approach since that time, and can think of no better way to connect with a child. Getting on the child’s level, moving-in close, and speaking in a soft tone, if not a whisper, is remarkably powerful, comforting, and bonding for a child in any situation, but especially when the child is experiencing a difficulty and needs supportive guidance. 

Go get softer and closer
Try it with your own child; rather than standing across the room and yelling, get close, soft, and comforting in tone, and see the difference. 

Time-In?
I’ve also espoused time-in rather than time-out. Of course, the latter is necessary at times, but far too often we neglect trying the former.
 
Try it, the softer and closer approach, and see the difference.
 
Let me know your thoughts. God bless.
 
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Dr. John Carosso

Dr. Carosso has more than 30 years of experience as a licensed Child Clinical Psychologist and Certified School Psychologist working in private, inpatient, outpatient, residential, school, and home settings. He is Clinical Director of Community Psychiatric Centers (cpcwecare.com), a licensed Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic, and operates both the Autism Center of Pittsburgh (autismcenterofpittsburgh.com) and the Dyslexia Diagnostic and Treatment Center (dyslexiatreaters.com).