Finding the right moment to parent – 3 key factors to watch out for.
Given I am a Child Psychologist and work primarily with children 0-12, it’s clearly pretty common I am often also working with parents. Parents consult my help for all sorts of things related to behaviour management. Most parents understand the concepts of “the united front”, “consistency”, and the “kind but firm” attitude towards limit setting. However, one of the most crucial components to effective parenting is finding the right moment – and this is what I like to call a teaching moment.
Reflect for a minute on your understanding of the word discipline. Most parents when I ask this question respond with something along the lines of "consequences for behaviour”. The word discipline, comes from the word “disciple” – which loosely means “follower, to learn from another”. Our children are our Disciples, which as parents makes us their Teachers. They are born into this world with no knowledge about how to operate as a part of it, and it is our job to support and teach them the ways of being a human. What an amazing reframe – had you ever considered this is your role when you are “disciplining” your child, as their guide and tutor? So, given this definition as Teachers to our children, it is important that the lessons we are imparting follow some key components;
1) The disciple must be in the frame of mind to receive the lesson.
2) The teacher must be in the frame of mind to deliver the lesson.
3) The environment must be such that the lesson can be learnt and applied appropriately.
This is why, identifying teaching moments are so important. Yelling at your child, whilst they are distressed, whilst in the middle of a disaster situation (whatever that might be) is not the time for discipline – however fairly common for most modern households. Taking time for the situation to calm down, as well as the child and parent to regulate their emotions BEFORE the lesson is given is KEY to success in parenting. There is much more to learn on this topic and further blogs will follow (keep an eye out for those), however for the moment, reflect on your “teaching” style and how you are currently delivering your lessons as a parent. Are you waiting for that teaching moment or delivering your lessons in a moment of emotional reactivity?