What Are They Deciding? How Your Discipline Approach Affects a Child’s Beliefs

When I’m training, I’m always looking for new ways to help people see how they came to their beliefs. Because when you understand how you came to believe what you believe, it’s so much easier to change the behavior around that belief. One of the most helpful phrases I’ve learned was in a Positive Discipline trainers group. The goal of the exercise was to help adults see and feel the situation from a child’s point of view. So the instructor asked us to put ourselves in the child’s shoes and answer the question “What are you deciding about the situation or the person right now?” Like all Positive Discipline exercises, it was a powerful experience.

All of us, children and adults, are making decisions and forming beliefs each and every day. Some of those decisions have only a small emotional impact on us and can easily be erased. Other decisions, or the accumulation of them, have a deep emotional impact and are hard to overcome or replace. They touch us at the core of who we are and stay with us for years, shaping how we see ourselves, other people and the world around us. Often we don’t even realize we’re making decisions. We just see the result of them in our attitudes and actions.

This is just one reason I choose connection then correction over punishment to guide a child’s behavior.  When a child feels supported and loved, even when their worst behavior is on display, they decide or come to believe that you’ll love them and will be there for them no matter what; that their behavior is not who they are, it’s just a choice they made in the moment and they have the power to make a different choice the next time; that no matter how big the mistake is, it can be fixed and learned from.  They internalize beliefs that help them become secure, confident, resilient kids.  

Positive Discipline gives nannies a really useful set of tools for seeing things in a new way. It helps us understand why the children we care for act the way they do, make the choices they do and respond to us in the way they do. That understanding can transform the way you care for kids which in turn transforms what they decide in all those teachable moments with you throughout the day.

Want to learn more about Positive Discipline and how it can help you be a more tuned in, effective nanny? Check out my new Connection-Centered Discipline Nanny Certification.


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