It may not be one of the most common New Year’s resolutions, like quitting smoking or losing weight, but one expert said a good goal for parents in 2014 is to utilize discipline instead of punishment. The difference between the two can have life-long positive effects, according to Ingrid Bauer, a mother of four and an expert on communication within families.
She said there’s a big difference between punishment – like spankings or time-outs which may just teach children not to get caught next time – and discipline, which can teach values and bring parent and child closer.
“Working with a child in partnership, you gain their trust,” she said. “And the motivation for them to behave in ways that you hope that they will, and that will benefit them, comes from inside them, whereas punishment, it’s all motivated primarily through fear of something external, rather than being connected to why they’re doing something.”
Bauer added a better strategy than meting out punishment when a child misbehaves is to talk with the child, try to understand why he or she acted out and then work together to change the behavior.
Bauer said using a discipline-based approach also works because at the same time children are given expectations, they also learn that their needs matter as well.
“Having their parents really validate what’s important to them and knowing that they’re going to be considered, as well as their parents also telling them what’s important to them and what they’d like,” she explained. “And my experience is that over time when you build that relationship of trust naturally, if you let that flow of love happen, they want to contribute. It makes them feel good.”
Bauer leads workshops around the country on what she calls compassionate parenting, and is certified by the Center for Nonviolent Communication.