For those that were raised under a stern voice and an iron fist
it might seem like those methods are the only reasonable way to bring instruction to those we
love. It’s for their own good right? I understand that so much of this, what I
will call good-old-fashioned parenting style was done out of love. Some may even boast that it was successful, although I might suggest that the success derived from parents
that where involved and caring and not in the methods themselves.
The problem that arises with using the drill sergeant
method with children is that from everything I’ve read this is not an effective
tool to use for learning. I think we’ve all heard of the fight or flight reaction. Well, when I was studying natural childbirth I learned that in nature if an animal
feels threatened labor will stop.

I’ll try not to be too descriptive here, but the
body will literally clamp up and shut down birth efforts in order for the animal to be
able to find a safer location. The same can be true for women in an
uncomfortable birth environment. I know most of you are really not interested in
a natural child birth pep talk, but let’s apply this to discipline.

When we discipline in anger it short circuits the learning potential
because the “fight or flight” response kicks in automatically when we feel
threatened. The child’s brain is going to secrete adrenaline which
will cause them to tighten up physically and mentally. You aren’t going to get
through to that child because their body is prepared for action. Think of your
child getting a shot. You tell them to relax and that it’s for their own good,
but they still tighten up naturally because there is fear there. This
tightening is from a part of the brain that is used for survival, it is not the
same part of the brain that is used for learning.
I actually love to learn about science and how
our bodies were designed, so when I first read about this (and then had it confirmed through various sources) it just made sense to me. That is why
empathy before delivering consequences isn’t an excuse to baby our children, it’s opening up their mind to learning!
I’m going to camp here for a minute because it’s such a HUGE part of Teachable Parenting and I want to share three individual ideas on the
topic from each of the three books this series is based on.
First, I love what Love and Logic says about how all of this can
impact the internal voice in your child’s head. 

“Kids who are given
empathy quickly develop a healthy voice inside of their heads. Instead of
blaming or shifting responsibility, this voice asks, “how is my next decision
going to affect my life? Which choice is going to be the wisest?” When our
children face  consequences, our spoonful of empathy is what makes the
medicine of learning go down.” 

Imagine if we could break the cycle of the self-deprecating/abusive inner dialogue that we use when we beat ourselves up for shortcomings! Wow. That’s freeing. 

Okay, second is how this
fits in line with the ultimate inner voice; the word of God and the Holy Spirit.
This next paragraph is from Loving Our Kids On Purpose
“Sadness and
empathy are what the Holy Spirit shows us when we fail. He doesn’t punish us. He comforts us. He shows us that He is sad for us, and invites us to come, of our
own free will, to benefit from His great wisdom and power for fixing problems.
(See, for example, John 14:26; John 16:13; Galations 4:6). His response to our
failure actually helps us to trust Him more. And when we respond to our
children like He responds to us, they trust us more because they learn that they
can fail in front of us.

Remember, in the New Covenant God did not send the punisher to come alongside us. He sent the HELPER, the COMFORTER, and that is of course the Holy Spirit.

Lastly, here is
some practical advice on the topic from Wild Things

self-control and self-regulation in your words and actions when you are
frustrated or angry as a parent. An emotionally charged adult only provides
more fuel to the already emotionally charged child.”

Now last night, when my kids were running around as they were brushing their teeth, they were getting toothpaste everywhere and spilling water and I was screaming this is supposed to be our WIND DOWN time. I wasn’t exactly ready to respond out of love. I have to work on that, but then there are times you can’t start with empathy, like when your child hits their sibling or darts into the street. In all of this I don’t want people to look at these tools with an extremist mentality. The first step though is just to recognize that this Teachable Parenting is an option and our children can learn obedience without using threats and manipulation. For some people this is a huge step. The bottom line, perfect love casts out fear. 

This is day 9 of a 31 day series. For the rest of Teachable Parenting click HERE.