Often, we discipline our teens with anger, but our children really need empathy.
In other words, when we lay down consequences with drama, our teens don't get the encouragement to learn from the mistake.
This is the perspective of Fay and Cline, the authors of Parenting Teens with Love and Logic.
According to this book, a parent's anger is difficult to manage for teens.
In other words, they get lost in the drama, and they can't see the lesson.
Fortunately, the workshop series, Parenting with a Coaching Mindset, teaches empathy and encouragement.
Wisely, Fay and Cline suggest empathy for parents as well.
Specifically, we are too hard on ourselves, when we expect to create or enforce consequences with anger.
In other words, we can't think clearly. Also, we can't be creative. We can't be fair, when we discipline with drama.
Ideally, parents should wait until they calm down. After all, there should be no rush to discipline children.
- First, "O.K, there will be a consequence for this, but I'm too angry to think right now."
- Then, "I'll come back to this later, and we'll talk."
When you are calm, you can say the following:
- First, "I've noticed that you've been _____ a lot lately." This is not O.K."
- Then, "The next time this happens, the consequence will be _____."
- Or, "What do you think should be the consequence for this?" Here, teens respect that we are involving them in the decision.
Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions says that a consequence should be, "reasonable and related."
In contrast, punishments that are over the top diminish a child's respect for the parent.
Similarly, a consequence that is unrelated to the blunder doesn't teach as profoundly.
For example, a child's failure to do a chore could result in doing the same chore more often.
Importantly, when a consequence has been decided, parents should expect to enforce it. So, they should be ready to apply empathy and encouragement.
Here is what this sounds like:
- First, "Ahhh, I'm so sorry, honey. You just _____, so you don't get to ______."
- Of course, this is done without anger or drama. This is empathy.
- Next, "I know you can _____, honey. I have faith in you. I believe it you." This is encouragement.
- Or, "We all make mistakes, and they are consequences. I know you'll get this right."
Dan Siegel is the author of the book, Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain.
In his experience, our children believe of themselves what we believe of them.
In other words, their inner voices, the ones they use for tough decisions, come from our faith in them.
More concretely, their inner voices come from that which trusted people in their lives say to them.
So, when we use empathy and encouragement over anger and drama. . .
. . . we cultivate the following in our children:
- learning from mistakes
- awareness of their values
- confidence with tough decisions
- respect for their parents
- empathy for themselves