Children cannot thrive on bribes, threats, rewards, and punishment.
To get the tools we need, we must first become aware of the inappropriate, ineffective, or destructive tools that we are using. Then we must be willing to let go of the old tools and begin using those that can serve us and our children better.
When praise is experienced as manipulation, it might or might not get kids to do what the praiser wants; however, praise-dependent kids will spend a lot of energy trying to figure out what they can do to please (or upset) the praiser, and they will have no time or energy left to develop the inner sense to evaluate their own abilities, goals, and deeds.
Nagging invites kids to tune out the nagger.
Do we want to influence and empower our children, or control them and make them mind? Most of us will probably say that we want to influence and empower. But often our techniques belie that answer and demonstrate very forcefully that we are out to control our children and make them mind.
The Golden Rule, as it is called, can serve us well when applied to our relations with our children. If we are not sure whether what we are doing with children is right, we need only put ourselves in their place and ask if we would want it done to us—not was it done to us, but would we want it done to us? If the answer is no, then we have to ask ourselves why we would ever want to do it to our children.
External motivation does not inspire anyone to be compassionate, honest, trustworthy, or fair. It merely manipulates a child into performing a specific task.
Discipline…is not something we do to children. It is a process that gives life to learning; it is restorative, and it invites reconciliation. Its goal is to instruct, to teach, to guide, and to help children develop self-discipline—an ordering of the self from the inside, not an imposition from the outside.
Many parents struggle to come up with consequences that are appropriate and meaningful. If you have to struggle to come up with a consequence, step back and ask yourself if you are trying to punish your child or discipline him. Natural consequences just happen; reasonable ones take a bit of reasoning but not a lot of energy on your part, and certainly shouldn’t be a struggle.
Feedback enables kids to look at their expression of feelings, their behavior, and their deeds honestly and realistically. There are three different kinds of feedback: compliments, comments, and constructive criticism. Each one is an important component in helping kids become responsible, resourceful, and resilient.
Sincere compliments that recognize and show appreciation for something children have done can open the door to their setting their own higher goals and determining their own tasks…
With threats and punishment, children are robbed of the opportunity to develop their own inner discipline—the ability to act with integrity, wisdom, compassion, and mercy when there is no external force holding them accountable for what they do.