The two most significant challenges children face are learning acceptable social behaviours and being able to control their own actions.
And there lies the vital importance of taking time to teach and guide children in their social and emotional development and awareness.
Children thrive when the adults in their lives understand this. When adults understand this challenge for children, they can commit wholeheartedly to helping children learn to navigate their choices to cultivate a strong sense of self and strengthen social and emotional wellbeing.
Every day a child is discovering who they are, how to think, how to be who they are, how to function and how to trust their own choices and judgments. In their discovery, they have the empowering opportunity to learn natural cause and effect of their choices.
If I do this, this will happen.
When given this freedom to explore and make choices children step into the awareness of personal responsibility and they have to choose for themselves. This is why CHOICES MATTER in a child’s life so you can guide your child’s behaviour with noticing, encouraging, giving and setting choices to offer both parent and child a way to connect, cooperate and communicate.
Behaviour Guidance is all the things you DO and SAY to help children learn and demonstrate confidence, independence, connection and resilience. The aim is for children to improve guiding and controlling their own behaviour and to rely less on their parent and educator to guide them. This takes a long time and means that the child needs to not only understand the cause and effect of their choices but to learn from their mistakes in a guiding and supporting way so they can develop the practise in self-regulation and self-awareness required to manage their own behaviour.
The term ‘behaviour guidance’ or ‘guidance approach’ is used by so many people these days instead of the term discipline because they associate discipline with punishment. Discipline is not a dirty word, but we have made it so. Discipline means to teach and guide. Yet, society has us believing that discipline means a child needs to be punished and taught a lesson for their mistakes.
Behaviour guidance is different from punishment. Punishment is doing something negative to a child when they have done something you do not approve of or that you have evaluated as naughty and unacceptable. Punishment does not help children learn to guide their own behaviour but instead teaches them to try to avoid getting caught or become anxious about making mistakes and disappointing the people they love. Punishment can also teach children to learn how to punish and control others by not showing them a way to have their needs met respectfully and assertively. Punishment involves the use of POWER and teaches children that if you are the person with the most power, you can use that over others.
All children and adults are hard-wired to belong, making the connection and acceptance the powerhouse virtues in parenting. My Choice-Based Connection-Focused method for disciplining (teaching and guiding) children takes a POWER WITH approach to discipline and puts connection at the heart of your daily interactions.
Supporting children to learn to guide their own behaviours is a skill, it does not come by chance. It’s a skill I have been practising for 16.5yrs as my boy enters his late teen years.
HOW do we teach and guide children in and through their learning so they can learn to manage their own behaviour?
We can start by trusting them to do things for themselves.
When we do this, we strengthen a child’s mindset.
When a child has someone who believes in them, they begin to believe in themselves. This empowers self-esteem and self-belief, which is everything when it comes to coping with set-backs, bouncing back from failure, persisting with new skills and taking reasonable risks. Trusting your child helps them to understand their mindsets and the options they have in how they choose to think about a situation.
We can all do this with two simple words – I TRUST YOU.
Pass the baby a face washer and encourage them to wipe their own face. Show them how it’s done and then let them do it with a gentle “I trust you Bubba, you do it.”
Ask the toddler to learn to pour their own glass of water. Show them how first (teach and guide), then encourage them that they are practising and it will take some time. Use the encourager if they spill some “It’s okay, I trust you, you can wipe the water up when you are finished.”
Acknowledge to the teenager “I trust you with coming home when you say you will.”
Acknowledge to the preschooler “I trust you to make your own sandwich for school today, let’s have a go together, and I can be here to help if you need me.”
I TRUST YOU – is one of the most connecting and encouraging phrases we can all here.
I will leave you with an empowering quote on connection by the worlds leading researcher on shame, vulnerability and belonging – Dr. Brené Brown.
“I define Connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
And so it is… TRUST does all of that.
If you are interested in understanding Growth and Fixed Mindsets and want some empowering tools to implement in your home, with your child the CAN-DO Growth Mindset Toolkit is an incredible online resource to support you!