Discipline: Connect Before You Correct

By Lesley Iwinski

Your boss comes in with a stern face. “Jim! This isn’t acceptable work! Try again, and do a better job this time!”

So, how about this? Your boss knocks on the door with a half-smile. “Hey there, Jim. Have you got a minute?

“I’ve taken a look at your project, and you have some good ideas there. I know you’ve worked hard on it, but it needs more development.

“See what you can do with it, and let me know if you need my help.”

Notice how you feel inside as you read each scenario. In the first example, you are bracing for the attack.

In the second example, you feel accepted, and your efforts are appreciated even though the product needs more work.

What a difference!

We can take this lesson home, and use it with very good results. Jane Nelson, author of Positive Discipline, suggests that when parents discipline their children, they “connect before they correct.”

When children feel accepted, appreciated and loved in spite of their mistakes or behavior, they are more likely to accept correction and to learn.

Next time your child makes a mistake or is misbehaving, get down on her eye level with a friendly face. This may take some practice.

“Hey, sweetheart. Looks like you are having a good time playing with flour on the floor. You made quite a spectacular mess.

“Oh…you’re a scientist? Well, it’s time to clean up. All good scientists do that when they are finished.”

Sounds a little crazy, I know, but what are you teaching her? When you make a mess, you have to clean it up.

She learns that she isn’t “bad.” She is doing what kids do… experimenting and exploring.

Instead of shouting, crying, and a bad mood, you have a memorable moment, connection, and learning.

At the next opportunity, see if you can think of ways you can connect with your child before you offer correction.