What about Discipline?

What about Discipline?

We call this particular love based family-centered approach Oxytocin Parenting. Simply said, everything you do is oriented toward relationship: triggering the oxytocin response. Being a loving, responsive and regulated parent does not mean that you’re never upset. It does not mean that you don’t set limits. It does not mean that you don’t discipline. But this approach puts a different spin on the idea of discipline.

The core of who we are is nonverbal and is unconscious. Therefore, it’s not what you say or do but how you feel when you’re saying and doing it. You shouldn’t “act nice” when you don’t feel nice, nor should you feel that you have to walk on eggshells. If you’re walking on eggshells, you’re already stressed out.

Dad used to say, “I’m giving you this whipping because I love you and want you to learn.” Or, “I’m sending you to your room without dinner because you have to learn manners and respect. If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t care.” These are not examples of Oxytocin Parenting.

We have been taught that love includes spanking, yelling, control, force, power, punishment, and much more, but these actions are fear disguised as love. The reason we struggle with love and to be “in love” so much is that we seldom get to experience true love. Love is understanding, flexibility, acceptance, tolerance, patience, and faithfulness. In love, there is joy and pain, worry and concern, but those states don’t last when we dwell in love. Instead, they are fleeting.

You certainly will get upset and even angry with your kids. You can and should honor your feelings, understanding that some behavior has triggered your own fear. When you can do this, you can express your anger without shaming or blaming your child. As you do that, you’ll find yourself calming down and moving back into regulation, while staying in relationship with the child.

If you lose it and do say something hurtful, you simply go back and apologize and repair the relationship. Your ability to repair the relationship shows your child that human beings can get angry or upset, but this doesn’t mean that they won’t love you anymore. This is not about perfect parenting; it’s about taking responsibility and staying present in the relationship.

When your children see that you set limits based on what’s best for her and not as punishment, she learns the value of limits. And, when you stay connected as you discipline, she gains a deeper experience of relationship.

Oxytocin Parenting means taking care of yourself, finding things that will bring you more oxytocin, reducing your own stress. Then, acting from a place of calm and love, you are able to take away your child’s stress and fear.

Question for next week – Will My Kids Be Too Soft?

This is an excerpt from the book Oxytocin Parenting by Bryan Post and Susan Kutchinskas. Buy it now for only $1.99 as an e-Book from Amazon!