I recently came across a post in a parenting Facebook group (yes I do belong to parenting FB groups other than my own) where a mom was legitimately concerned about her child’s safety, but feared stepping in and do something about it because she thought it would go against the principles of positive discipline and she didn’t want to say no to her kid.
I’m talking serious stuff here, like her child was probably being lured by a predator on the internet, and this mom was worried that taking away her child’s screens would be damaging to their parent child relationship.
This has me so freaking worried people! I am deeply concerned for this mother and her kiddo, and I also want to make sure that we’re not confusing positive discipline with handing over our power and knocking down our boundaries.
If you think that because positive discipline makes connection a priority when it comes to how we interact with our children, it means they are in charge, we’ve somehow gotten our wires crossed.
Connection does not equal being responsible for keeping kids happy, it does not mean we give until we’re bled dry, and it does not mean we eliminate the word no from our vocabulary.
It is rare, but there are situations where your kid has no say and you need to be in complete control. If your child is unsafe, or is causing others to be unsafe, this is one of those times.
If your child is about to run in front of a car, you’re not going to stand on the sidewalk and start asking curiosity questions or pull out paper to brainstorm solutions. You’re going to use your adult strength to yell, stop, grab and hold your kid to control them and keep them safe to the best of your ability.
If your child is throwing rocks at the playground and other kids are in danger of getting hurt, go ahead and use a curiosity question like “What do we need to do with the rocks to make sure that everyone is safe?” Or tell your kid what they can do with the rocks. “We can stack the rocks or we can leave the rocks on the ground but we may not throw the rocks.”
If for some reason and the reason is most likely that their brains are still developing so they’re not absorbing this information properly, they continue to throw the rocks (please tell me it’s extremely obvious that you can insert any unsafe behavior in place of throwing rocks), it is totally OK to leave the park and let your child know you will try again another day.
Even if your kiddo is having an all time monster of a temper tantrum as you carry them to the car, it’s going to be OK.
If you see that supervision needs to be ramped up for a little while, go ahead and ramp it up.
If there is a toy (including screens for bigger kids) that your child is having a hard time navigating the rules of play with, it’s OK for that toy to go away for a while until a little more brain development has happened and they are able to grasp the concepts they need to play well.
We’re in the business of making sure needs are met and monitoring cognitive ability.
Sometimes people need to take a few steps backward and get back to basics before they can move forward and have the privileges that come with growth.
It’s our job to guide our kids through those lessons and help them to take those steps back if they need to.
Our job is not to shelter our kids from disappointment.
The key to this is that you’re not attacking their character, you’re not shaming them. You’re parenting with the mindset that everyone makes mistakes and mistakes are learning opportunities.
We want them to be resilient and part of that is allowing them to exercise their disappointment muscles so they know how to go through it and come out stronger on the other side.
When you have taken every action necessary to make sure that your children are out of harms way, you can begin from that point to build connection.
You are not a doormat, you are not powerless, you are the parent.