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No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 5

For the past few articles, I have been exploring the three connection principles to use during discipline based on the book “No Drama Discipline” by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson. The three principles include Turning Down the Shark Music, Chasing the Why, and Think about the How. Today, I will explore and discuss the final principle, Think About the How. To review the first two principles, please read the articles “No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 1,” “No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 2,” “No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 3,” and “No Drama Discipline: The Principles, Part 4.” To review the foundation of the three principles, review the articles “No Drama Discipline: The Foundation Part 1,” and “No Drama Discipline: The Foundation Part 2.”The past two principles, Turning Down the Shark Music and Chasing the Why, refer to the internal aspects of parenting. That is, these concepts explore both a parent’s and a child’s inner thoughts throughout each discipline interaction. The final principle, Think About the How, focuses more on the tone of the conversation, that is to say, how a parent expresses him or herself to the child, and less on what a parent actually says.

Let’s look at an example.

Susan has a 7yo son, Alex. It is 7pm on a Wednesday night, and Susan has asked Alex to brush his teeth before bed. The following three interactions are different ways Susan can say the same sentence, “Go brush your teeth.”

  1. With a smile on her face, a calm-looking face, and a warm tone of voice, Susan says, “Go brush your teeth.”
  2. With eyebrows turned inward, a scrunched up nose, and an angry voice, Susan says quickly, “Go brush your teeth.”
  3. With a frown on her face, narrow eyes, and clenched teeth, Susan says, “Go. Brush. Your. Teeth.”

How do you think these scenarios would vary based on Susan’s tone? How do you think Alex would react to each scenario? These examples demonstrate just how much the how matters when a parent communicates with his or her child.

Throughout parental-child interactions, it is important to give the child a choice rather than focus solely on the consequence.

For example, a mother, Mary, is trying to get her 7yo daughter, Veronica, to bed. Veronica enjoys story time every night, which may be a good reward, or incentive, for getting to bed on time. Veronica decides she does not want to go to bed. Mary can state her message in one of two ways:

  1. “Get into bed or you won’t get to read a story tonight.”
  2. “If you get into bed now, we will have time to read a story. If not, we will run out of time and we will not be able to read a story tonight.”

In the first message, Mary stated a consequence. In the second message, Mary was able to give her child a choice, allowing the child to make a decision for herself. When it comes to parenting, giving children a choice allows the parent and child the opportunity to connect while simultaneously giving the child control over his or her choices. In this manner, a parent is teaching his or her child the reward or consequence that accompanies a given choice. This, in turn, will help the child navigate the world as an adult.

The how in No Drama Discipline may be a reflection about how the child feels about him or herself as well as how the child feels about the parent. Children learn how to treat others by observing how the parent treats others and modeling those behaviors. Children tend to be more cooperative when they feel connected to a parent. Futhermore, according to authors Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, discipline becomes more effective when the how is calm, playful, and respectful.

If you would like to learn more about parenting techniques and receive individualized treatment to address specific problems in your home, therapy can be a great place to do so. Please contact us at Hilber Psychological Services to explore therapy options. If you have any general questions, please visit our FAQ

Be sure to come back soon to read about more topics in the field of psychology and mental health.