Do Not Give up on Discipline
A new book by Dr. Shefali Tsabary, was released this week. We had the opportunity to read the advanced copy of Out of Control – Why Disciplining Your Child Doesn’t Work – And What Will and wanted to share our thoughts.
Getting rid of discipline is a very provocative premise. There is no question that the title will generate publicity. As with parenting books in general, there are many helpful ideas contained within this 281-page work. Our concern is the damage that this well-meaning author can do when people don’t actually read her content and just work from the title.
In Chapter One, Dr Tsabary writes,
“Originally the word “discipline” had a benign meaning,associated with education and training. But ask any parent today about discipline and they assume you are talking about a strategy to control a child’s behavior—a strategy that revolves around the parent exerting their will over the child. Parents actually ponder the question, “What can I take away from my child that my child particularly enjoys, so they’ll get the message?”
This definition of “Discipline” is where things start to slide down a slippery slope. What Dr. Tsabary seems to be discussing is punishment – making kids feel bad so that they don’t repeat misbehaviour.
The definition of discipline in a family has nothing to do with controlling – in fact it is the exact opposite. Control is about reacting in the moment and punishing children.
At Parenting Power, our definition of Discipline looks at the root word (disciple) which is based on teaching and learning. Discipline means taking time as a parent, to teach new behaviours, through consistent dialogue and presence; setting your kids up for success. Without this, your kids aren’t learning.
We can’t assume that kids will just figure it out on their own with no help from Mom and Dad. Someone needs to teach them values, what’s right and wrong, especially with the prevalence of social media in their lives today.
If we are not willing to teach and guide (discipline) our kids, then they are going to learn values and behaviours somewhere else or they won’t learn while they are young and will fall really hard as they grow older.
Whether it is kids biting others, a child chatting through a concert, kids vandalizing a property or even bumping into others while texting in the mall, our kids need to learn that these behaviours are unacceptable and what to do instead. Learning requires discipline – not punishment or shame, blame and control, but discipline.
If you want to read this book, go for it but please don’t just read the title and throw the baby (and discipline) out with the bathwater. Your kids need you to teach them.