Thursday, February 4, 2010

Teaching Children Self-Discipline

I'm reading Teaching Children Self-Discipline by Thomas Gordon. While most of it is really applicable to older children (at least old enough to converse and reason things out with you), I have found it valuable even in dealing with [my reaction to] the "misbehaviors" of an 18-month old. I could share lots of little tidbits, and maybe I will later, but for now I just wanted to share the following 2 paragraphs (p. 175) that sort of knocked me over when I read them:
Conventional wisdom has it that if you genuinely accept a child, he or she will remain the same. It is also nearly universally believed that the way to help children do something to point out their faults...Consequently, in dealing with children most parents and teachers rely almost exclusively on "correcting messages" — on judging, criticizing, preaching, moralizing, admonishing, name-calling, blaming, lecturing, threatening, ordering, and directing — all messages that convey nonacceptance of the child. This "language of unacceptance" is also the method of choice of other caretakers of our children.

In recent years...we have found ample evidence that a necessary condition for helping others change is accepting them the way they are[!]

This was written in like 1985, so I don't think many of his generalizations about "most" parents are really fair anymore. I think "most" parents have already begun to understand what he is teaching here. But it still hit me like a ton of bricks. Even though I haven't been a parent for very long, I've been a teacher for over a decade. How many times have I criticized, moralized, admonished, judged, and generally not accepted my students, my family, my husband? Yikes. Thankfully, I know my students have been quite forgiving of my faults. I hope my children (and husband) can be too...


Lorinda said...

oh, come on. you are one of the most accepting teachers I have ever ever ever ever ever met. are you kidding? Wade? Will? hello. i think that is one of the reasons you had as much success with them as you did. You loved them and ... drumroll... accepted them.

Cindy at LottieBird said...

This one is great, too (I'm reading them backwards). It was really meaningful and helpful--until you got to the husband part. Why is that so tough? He hasn't organized his clutter in 24 years, why don't I just accept it?

But I know part of the problem I have with "mini me" is just accepting it. Resisting her behavior only magnifies it (at least in my mind).