In our March meeting, we discussed Conscious Discipline and Dr. Becky Bailey’s book, “Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline“. Dr. Bailey is an expert in childhood education and developmental psychology.
Conscious Discipline is an “emotional intelligence” discipline that helps children and adults respond from higher centers of the brain – healthy connections with other people wires the brain for improved impulse control, instead of reacting negatively to conflict. The idea is that adults make changes in their lives first, as we can not teach behaviors and skills to our children that we do not possess ourselves. According to the Conscious Discipline website, “[Conscious Discipline] defines discipline not as something you do to children, but as something you develop within them.”
In order to switch from traditional to Conscious Discipline, we need to look at our core beliefs. In the traditional model, the goal is to make children behave/be compliant/be obedient. It’s based on the notion that we can make children “mind”. But it is impossible to make others change – it is only possible to change ourselves. Because we are in a dynamic relationship with each other, if we change how we respond to others, it will change how they respond to us. Traditional discipline relies on rules and consequences. The thinking is: if we can find the right rule or consequence, the behavior will change. In Conscious Discipline, relationships govern behavior. Willingness to cooperate comes from our relationship with one another.
In traditional discipline, we are trying to get rid of conflict because it makes us uncomfortable. Conflict can be painful, hurtful, and can involve screaming and hollering. We try to avoid it by using rewards and punishments. We tell our children we will buy them a treat if there is no conflict in the morning, etc. or we take things away to avoid conflict. It is based on external reinforcers, external punishments, and stimulus response. In Conscious Discipline, conflict is seen as an opportunity for growth. Conflict is viewed as arising because there are missing social/emotional skills in both parents and children. It teaches us to think things through, to replace the external with the internal response, and to teach new skills; we become pro-active instead of reactive in moments of conflict.
So, how do we get started? Stay tuned for Part 2.