Are your discipline methods turning you into a bully?

Children need boundaries, rules and discipline. Children need know limits and to have a structure in their lives. Having said that, how do you discipline your kids? When I talk about discipline I’m not talking about punitive actions, I’m talking about teaching our children consequences and raising them to become healthy, happy, succesful and contributing members of our society.

Every child is different and we must adjust our parenting and disciplining techniques to each of them. However, there are major lines that I belive we should never cross as parents. You know where I stand on spanking and/or physical punishments.

I’ve been puzzled by all the news about extreme parenting and discipline measures that have come up over the last few months, such as parents shaming their children on facebook for not listening, a house of horrors where multiple kids are abused and neglected… The list goes on and on, and on. What’s really happening? Are parents getting more out of control? Why do they think these parenting techniques are appropriate? Are some parents becoming their own children’s bullies?

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We all get angry, feel stressed and sometimes don’t know what to do with our kids. We all do! However causing emotional and/or physical pain to our children should never be the course of action, no matter what the lesson we are trying to teach them is.

As parents, we need to remember that part of our job is to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of our kids. We cannot let ourselves become the bully we fear they’ll encounter in school, by acting like this. It is not ok to privately or publicly humiliate our children, it is not ok to cause them physical harm, it is not ok to make them feel unloved, it is just not ok!

When it comes to disciplining, these are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Maintain your cool and composure. If you need to take a break (time-out), do so. But do not depart from the good behavior you want your kids to emulate.
  • Teach them by doing. If it’s not ok to lie, don’t lie to them; if it’s not ok to hit, don’t hit them; if it’s good to have a balanced diet, eat a balanced diet with them…
  • You’re not the disciplinarian, their actions are. Their actions are the ones creating consequences. Help them understand that they are disciplining themselves, not you.
  • Don’t become the ‘bad guy’. We cannot become ‘the bad guy’ in our kids’ lives. As I mentioned in my previous post, they need to feel unconditionally loved, even when they’re misbehaving.
  • There’s nothing wrong with them, their behavior is the problem. Make sure your children understand that they are not bad or naughty, but that their behavior can be improved.
  • Don’t hold grudges. Once the action has passed, once your child has been disciplined and learned the lesson, let it go! Forgive and move on. Do not stay mad at your child for long, avoid dirty looks or bad answers.
  • Choose consequences that match the behavior.
  • Remember that our child is not trying to give us a hard time, he’s having a hard time (managing his emotions, controlling his impulses, trying to communicate with us, being tired or hungry…).

When it comes to raising our children, we need to always have present in our mind, that we love them and that they need to feel that love. If you ever feel that you’re getting out of control, that you need to physically or psychologically harm your children to teach them a lesson, that you don’t know what else to do, that you are about to snap… seek help! Help in the form of a friend, a spouse, a relative, a childcare professional, a parenting coach… Don’t let yourself go to the extreme when it comes to disciplining your children.

I know this is easier said than done, and I also know that most of us will fail a this at some point. What’s important though is that we keep this is mind and that we do our best every day.

Much love, Diana-

Spank Out Day

Today is “Spank-Out Day”, dedicated to raising awareness about the damage that spanking causes to children, and encouraging parents to find gentle, positive, loving, respectful and effective alternatives to guide our children through life.

Since as long as I can remember I’ve been against spanking or any other type of corporal punishment. I was occasionally spanked by my mom growing up, and never spanked by my dad. So, I am not one of those people who made the decision not to spank after experiencing it first hand. However, I did experienced the lack of connection, and I know how harmful that is.

Since I became a mom, Dr. Laura Markham’s words always stay with me as I parent my daughters ‘Connection before correction.’ The message sounds so simple, and yet it is so powerful. If that’s your mantra as a parent, even if you thought spanking was an option, you would never spank your kids. If you take the time to connect with them, to really CONNECT with them, with their feelings, with yours… from that place, it’s impossible to make the rational decision to physically harm your children in order for them to learn a lesson.

For those of you who need a little bit more convincing or information about the negative effects of spanking, and who need effective alternatives to it, here are some articles that are absolutely worth reading.

Great readings about alternatives to corporal punishment:

Love,

Diana-

 

Baby Sleep Myths

This past weekend I participated in the New Parents Expo held in Manhattan. It was a great event, and I had the opportunity to meet many of you in person (Thanks for stopping by our table!). It was my first experience participating in an event like this, and I’m really glad I did it! I love meeting new and expectant parents, and over 3,000 of them walked in the doors of this Expo, so I had fun!

Smooth Parenting Stand - New Parents Expo
Smooth Parenting Stand – New Parents Expo

Over the two days, I answered many questions about baby sleep and smooth parenting; and was able to (hopefully) break some myths around baby sleep. These were the most common misconceptions I encountered:

  1. Nursing & Sleep: “I am nursing, so I can’t do any sleep training;” or “If I sleep train him, my milk supply will decrease and I won’t be able to continue nursing;” or “This doesn’t work for breastfeeding moms.” All these statements are… FALSE. You can breastfeed your baby, maintain an approapriate milk supply and help him/her develop healthy sleep habits.
  2. Age & Sleep: “My child is too old for this;” or “We missed this train!;” or “This doesn’t work for toddlers.” All these statements are… FALSE. It is never too late to teach your child healthy sleep habits.
  3. Crying & Sleep Training: “It’s impossible to teach a child to sleep without leaving him/her to cry it out;” or “I can’t sleep train my child, because I know it will involve crying and I can’t handle that.” All these statements are… yes, you guessed it… FALSE. You can certainly sleep train your child without leaving him to cry himself to sleep, that’s my approach. I don’t believe in cry-it-out (CIO) either. There are many other ways to help your baby sleep, that do not involve CIO.

I know some of you might be confused about this, so I’ve decided to address each of this topics in detail. Stay tuned, this week’s article is all about ‘Nursing & Sleep.’ I hope you find the article clarifying and helpful to start your sleep coaching journey. Remember that you can always email your questions at ask@smoothparenting.com. We will choose two questions every month and I will answer them. Don’t miss that chance! We might pick yours!

Diana-

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

The greatest honor of my life is being the mom to my wonderful daughters!

“The noblest calling in the world is that of mother. True motherhood is the most beautiful of all arts, the greatest of all professions.

She who can paint a masterpiece or who can write a book that will influence millions deserves the plaudits and admiration of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters whose immortal souls will be exerting an influence throughout the ages long after painting shall have faded, and books and statues shall have been destroyed, deserves the highest honor that man can give.”

 – David O. McKay

What better gift than THE GIFT OF SLEEP for Mother’s Day?

Remember that in honor to Mother’s Day, I am offering a 10% discount on all my services (from private phone consultations, to overnights!). If you are sleep deprived, don’t miss this opportunity. Use the discount code LOVEMOM2011 at checkout http://www.SmoothParenting.com/Sleep_Consultations.html

Wishing you a happier, smoother and easier parenting experience!

Love,

Diana-

Embrace Your Child as She IS

Last week, I was talking to one of my coaching clients and she seemed very unhappy with the way her daughter had turned out to be. I tried to understand what she meant by that and why she felt that way. Her daugher, who is eleven, is a straight-A student, well-behaved. She loves reading, she speaks three languages. She is well-adjusted and friendly, loves volunteering at her local church, playing piano and playing tennis. Finally, she is a very caring and inspiring older sister to her little brother.

Although the mom was proud of all the things her daughter had accomplished at such a young age, her daughter had missed the mark on something that my client considered extremelly important “lacrosse.” The mom had played lacrosse when she was a child until her undergraduate years, and had dreamed about having a daughter who followed her steps on that sport. Her daughter gave it a try, but wasn’t interested at all, she didn’t find it enjoyable, and she didn’t want to miss tennis or piano to go to lacrosse.

The mom was having a hard time letting go of the dream of what her ‘ideal daughter’ would be; and embracing the amazing daughter she had. Of course, the daughter was feeling unloved and unwanted by her mother, despite all the good things she was doing; and didn’t really understand what was going on. Obviously there’s something causing the mom to put so much importance on this particular sport, something that was ingrained in her thoughts and believes when she was growing up.

This story compelled me to invite you to let your children grow as the unique individuals they already are. Allow them to discover themselves, their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses. Your children are not you, and they should be able to have their own dreams and aspirations, and more often than not, those will be different from your own dreams and aspirations.

Appreciate the individuality of each child a blessing and pursue ways to expand on that. Be open minded, and don’t push your child into pursuits that they are not interested in. When you find yourself trying to impose your own agenda on your child, look inside yourself, think about what’s pushing you to make that decision, what part of your upbringing is creating this behavior. Believe in and love your kids for who they are. Allow them to be their true self and embrace them as they are.

“The best parents are the ones who let their kids know: ‘I believe in you,’ and don’t add the caveat, ‘but I’d like you to be thinner, smarter, etc.”

Lenore Skenazy

Get Your Pediatrician On Board

It is prudent to discuss any of your concerns about sleep issues with your child’s pediatrician before you start any sleep training program with your child. Is your baby gaining weight regularly? Are there any other medical problems that might be causing your baby’s sleep problems?  Are there any developmental conditions affecting sleep? Is there any reason why you shouldn’t go ahead with sleep training? Is there any sleep training method that is not advisable for your baby?

Your pediatrician knows your baby, and watched him grow and develop week by week, and will therefore be able to assess whether your child is ready to begin formal sleep training.  I actually require the families I work with to obtain approval to begin the Smooth Baby Sleep program from their pediatrician when their baby is around 12 weeks of age.  This ensures that your baby is developmentally ready to begin the process of sleep training, and that no medical issues will impede the process.

Please do not start sleep training if your child is sick or running a fever.  There are certain illnesses and conditions that can interfere with your child’s sleep quality, like: nasal congestion, teething, ear infections, colic, GERD, yeast or urinary tract infections, sleep apnea, night terrors, milk allergies, etc.  For a detailed list of conditions that affect sleep and what steps can be taken to minimize their impact, please review chapter eight which discusses special considerations.

Much love, Diana-

Baby Back To Sleep

Not too long ago, pediatricians and other health care providers used to think that babies should sleep on their stomachs. However, research now shows that healthy babies are less likely to die of SIDS when they sleep on their backs. Therefore, placing your baby on his or her back to sleep is the number one way to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Every sleep time counts, so do not make exceptions to this rule for short naps, and make sure all caregivers place your baby to sleep in the same position. Studies show that babies who are used to sleeping on their backs, but who are occasionally then placed on their stomachs or sides to sleep, are at significantly higher risk for SIDS. This risk is actually greater (sometimes seven to eight times greater) than that of infants who are always placed on their stomachs or sides to sleep.

Therefore, make sure that everyone putting your baby to sleep (grandparents, babysitters, nanny, daycare team, friends…), knows about the best positioning and they all place your baby in the same position.

Once a baby has the ability to roll over the neck muscles are stronger and the chance of SIDS decreases. When infants roll over on their own, there is no evidence showing that they need to be repositioned and back to their backs.

Much love, Diana-