Our belief is that what makes a discipline technique effective is not what parents do, but how they do it. This is where the most effective technique we’ve ever seen comes in. We call it “Connection in Correction”. It’s a way of doing discipline that communicates to a child the message that “you are loved no matter what!”
Once I gave my son a time out. In our front entry is a bench we used for time-outs, big enough for a couple misbehaving bottoms if needed. My son was particularly upset about his time-out. He wanted to go outside with the other kids.
I looked at him. He gazed angrily, perhaps longingly out the front door, and I wondered if anything was getting through to him. While part of me wanted him to feel bad for a while in hopes he would learn his lesson, another part of me had compassion on him, and I wondered if perhaps there was a better way to encourage him.
Believing compassion might help him learn better, I decided to go with the compassion – not by letting him off the time-out bench, but by sitting on it with him until his time was done.
While I sat with him I comforted him. I let him know I understood how bad he felt. I told him a story of one of my misbehaviors when I was his age. I asked him how he felt and empathized when he said “frustrated”. I told him I loved him. This connection helped him endure the time-out, knowing I cared enough about him to join him in it.
The next day, when my son was confronted with the same opportunity to misbehave, I looked at him, and recalling our time-out together the day before I said in a relaxed, positive way, “Would you like another time-out with me today? Or would you like to choose to be respectful instead?”
He chose respect.
Try this the next time you ground your child, or give her a time-out, or take his toy away. Try connecting. Right in the middle of it somewhere. Once you’ve given a consequence, or even while you’re giving it, find some way to show or tell your love to your child. We offer this challenge: the next time your child misbehaves, find a way to “connect while you correct.”
Here are a couple questions to ponder during quiet time, with a spouse or friend, or even with your small group:
- When has someone connected with you (shown love and compassion) when you “misbehaved”, and what was the effect on you?
- Can you think of a time when you “connected in correction” with your child? What was the impact?
- Try this, and share the results with someone.