I don’t believe in punishment.

As a coach I understand the psychological effects that it can have on brain development.

I’ll always blog about what is coming up in my coaching room and this one is no different.

What do you think came up in this year’s Summer Club as the hardest thing to deal with? You guessed it!  Anger. Have you read my other blogs on anger? So we have a lot of angry children who don’t know how to deal with their anger but I wonder…

Are there also a lot of angry parents who don’t know how to deal with their anger either?

We are all still learning.  But let me ask you this, what did you learn as a child about anger?  I think Society has a very negative perception around anger which is where a lot of the uncomfortableness comes from. Anger is an emotion, just like any other.  We need it.  Have you seen the film Inside Out? Anger helps in the film and anger can help us all if we learn how to be with it.

When you openly compare your children, they will feel that.

Being compared less favourably to a sibling will create anger.

Let’s look at different temperaments of a child…

  • Child 1 – has a more laid back and compliant temperament
  • Child 2 – is much more strong willed.

The second child is regarded as the more ‘tricky’ to parent and then they get that label. But that’s not the case. The parenting style is what doesn’t work well, not the child.  You have to match the parenting style to the temperament of each of your children.

When you try and punish a strong willed sensitive child, you will be met with more anger

Punishment and authoritarian parenting does not work for strong willed sensitive children.  If you can’t manage and process your anger in the eye of the storm, that’s one almighty angry mess.  In that angry mess we have missed the learning opportunity and the moment to regulate our emotions and feel safe with our anger to be OK and comfortable with it.  When you’re locked in a power struggle with a strong willed sensitive child there’s lots of things going on there.

We don’t need to feel bad to learn the lesson

Primarily the reason parents punish children is to try and teach them not to do that the next time. But have they got the tools to process their anger and calm down? No, I don’t believe they have! If we are all being honest, (myself included!) sometimes we as adults don’t have the tools to deal with our anger so how are we expecting our children to behave like emotionless robots?

When we were all learning how to walk, eat, talk, read and write we didn’t get punished for getting it wrong, we just learnt how to do it.  It took time, some things took longer than others but we all learnt eventually.  We don’t need to punish our kids to teach them to do the right thing.

Motivating behaviour through reward charts and punishment means children are always looking outside to know what to do next.

Surely we want our children to internally know what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. They do know, their internal satnav tells them.  (We all have one of those by the way!)  But when they stop listening to it because they are always told what to do every step of the way (authoritarian parenting), we create approval seekers.  As a child on the receiving end of a parent telling them if you do this right I’m ‘happy mummy’, if you do this wrong, I punish you and I’m ‘disappointed mummy’.  Then that is taken as the blue print into adult life and they become the person that feels ‘I need to make sure the other person is OK and happy in order for them to like me, not get punished and be OK.’  You don’t need to be punished to learn and so we don’t want them to be externally motivated.  We need to bring it back to them, to their internal satnav, “how does that feel for you?”

So what happens if we don’t feel these feelings or can’t feel them because they’re too big and scary?  We learn to stuff that anger down with food/ alcohol or then we become passive aggressive, muttering under our breath, being sarcastic because we are unable to voice our anger.  Sound familiar?  If we can’t do it then how do we expect our kids to?

When children are angry, they might be defiant, break stuff, slam doors and that annoys the parents. There is always a reason for the anger. Then they begin to fear that their child will turn out as a ‘bad’ child and they don’t want that either (those things are the parents’ stuff and they should look at that for themselves) so they then punish the behaviour they see.  What we actually want is for children to feel OK with their anger and know that sometimes we all need anger.

What do you need when you’re angry?

In Summer Club we were trying to harness our anger, be with it and breathe it out or find a way that is right for the child.  Boys tend to need a physical outlet to discharge their anger whereas girls are more about wanting to find peace amongst the storm through Buddha breathing, grounding themselves, be hugged and feel safe. If that sounds like it might be helpful for your family, you can still pick up the Summer Club Pack from my online learning den here.

In my Coaching room, the dialogue seems to follow this pattern…

ME: What do you do when you’re angry?

CHILD: Go/get sent to my room for time out.

ME: Do you want to be alone with your anger?  What about if there was a grown up there with you?  Telling you you’re OK, you’re safe, you’re just angry and that’s OK.

CHILD: I would like that.

Session outcome is for the child to have a discussion with parents.

What stops the child from wanting to do this is if they are afraid what their parent’s response will be or if they feel their needs won’t’ be met.

Now the parent becomes an emotion coach so they need to look at the emotion that sits beneath the behaviour.  Go for the emotion, get it out, set it free.You need to look beyond the behaviour and the actions instead of trying to control and punish the behaviour.

>> part two of this blog continues here <<

Pick up a Summer Family Pack!

Learn how to understand your anger, calm down and build a calm down kit by clicking on the picture below.

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