Yesterday I took a refresher course in my favorite behavior and guidance class, conscious discipline by Becky Baily. If you ever get a chance to take a class based on Becky Bailey’s principles, DO IT! You will not regret it. It has changed my life over the past 10 or so years I’ve been learning about it. She has excellent ideas that really make a difference in how your day will go.
Our ideas and procedures for discipline come from our own upbringing. Sometimes when I think back to the forms of discipline I received from various places, I feel a twinge of pain in my heart. My goal as a care provider for children is to NOT give them those twinges. I want to grow confident, kind, thinking people.
Are your kids listening to you out of fear or love? Do they want to be good people, or do they just want to not be punished? If you teach them to do the right thing because it’s good and right, they will carry this throughout their life and make better decisions. If you teach them to obey you out of fear, as soon as you’re not looking, they will do what they know is wrong. Use your time with them to show them good things and not scare them into obedience.
Do you spend time with a child that causes a heap of trouble in your day? I know I have had numerous kids over the years in various places that each and every time, gave me a run for my money. Did you know if you spend 5 minutes, JUST FIVE MINUTES at the start of your time with that child, building a relationship with them, it will cut down their behavior problems by 50%? Like the teacher in our class said, you don’t have time NOT to do this. Just this one tip could change the dynamics of your life from here until forever. I know it to be true, it works.
Have you ever felt like you have told a child at least 100 times not to leave their shoes in the walkway because everyone trips over them? I have told you 100 times to pick up these books so they don’t get torn up. I have told you 100 times to put your toys away before you get some more out. I have told you 100 times not to climb on that! Well guess what? According to Becky Bailey and her research, it takes 2,000 times of hearing something before we have it as a value or know it to be true. So I guess you have 1,900 more times to go.
If you think about how a child’s mind works, you can take a lot of frustration out of your time with them. Learning as much as you can about brain development and the development of reasoning and thinking skills in the children you are guiding can give you a whole lot more understanding into what they are thinking when they chose their behaviors.
Here’s something that will illustrate. I have heard this in multiple conscious discipline classes. Children CANNOT understand or comprehend the meaning of the word don’t. So if you say to a child under 4, don’t run, the only word they actually comprehend from that sentence is run. If you tell a child 100 times a day don’t climb on things, guess what they hear? Climb on things. And they hear that 100 times a day. Have you ever wondered why it doesn’t seem like you are getting through to them?
A classic behavior with children is running in the house. I don’t know about you, but I live in a tiny 1,100 square foot home and I am in here with 7 kids a day for 10 hours a day. There is no room for running in here. The small places that don’t contain furniture, are full of people. If anyone is running, they are running into someone or something. Then guess what happens? They get hurt. Every. Stinking. Time. So what do we say? Don’t run in the house. Don’t run in the house. Don’t RUN IN THE HOUSE!
What can we say instead? There are other terms we can use to convey what we want from children besides the natural instinct we have from our upbringings of saying don’t. We can say: Walk in the house, use your walking feet, or SLOW DOWN! Just remember when you tell a child don’t, you are telling them to do whatever thing you say next. It’s not bad behavior, it’s the stage of development they are at. That’s all they can comprehend.
Any time you have a chance to take a class about how children’s brains and thinking develop, it will really be beneficial to you. It’s amazing how we go from a little cell, to these thinking, reasoning adults we are.
Speaking of reasoning…let’s talk about our triggers as care takers. Everyone has buttons and the people we interact with do push them at times, right? So let’s talk about some triggers that push our buttons. Let’s talk about biting. Doesn’t it make you so freaking mad when a child bites another child? I mean, there is the frustration that the child is hurt, the anger that a child is hurting someone, the dread of telling the parents and showing them the mark. It’s emotional. But take that part out of it. The reality of biting is you have a child that doesn’t know how to express themselves with words. That child is learning that if they bite, they get the toy in another child’s hand (or whatever) because they drop it when they bite them. Biting is an expression of the biter’s needs.
Now biting is totally not okay. It is unacceptable. But the biter does not know that, the biter knows they want the toy. The biter is hurting because they don’t have the toy and the biter knows how to get the toy. Now back to the emotional parts. We hate seeing children get hurt. We are afraid the child is hurt badly, and we are afraid being hurt is scary to the child. We are afraid of how the parents of the victim will react. When a child bites another child on your watch, it’s scary. And fear begets anger. ALL ANGER IS FEAR!
Anything that pushes your buttons in your life does so because it scares you. Do you hate bad drivers and have road rage? It’s because you are afraid of getting in a wreck, getting hurt, damaging your car, or your children being harmed, right? If you are mad when your kids run away from you in a parking lot, it’s because you know what happens when a child gets hit by a car and you know it’s hard for the driver of a car to see a child running, right?
So when you have something that sends you over the edge daily, check out the reason why you are afraid? Most of the time as caregivers, our fears are grounded. The reason we are afraid of the action is because we know the outcome and it’s something unpleasant. Do something differently to effect the change you are wanting. We all know you can’t stop every bite or catch the kids before they do it every time. We also know that sometimes people expect us to be able to, but even if you are right there the second the child thinks of it, you can’t always stop them if they are determined to do it. Doing the best you can to prevent it and giving the biter another option is the best way to effect change.
You can designate a special stuffed animal as that child’s bitey and put it in a special place where they can get to it. If they feel like they have to bite, they can bite their bitey. You can also help them find the words. Show them how they can say, can I play with that toy, and that sometimes the other child will share it with them. And you can show them how to find something else to play with like another toy that’s the same or similar they might have fun using. It’s all in giving the child tools to express themselves.
Our goal is to teach children to make good choices with their behavior. We need to give them tools to get what they need to meet their needs. We need to be thoughtful about the outcomes we want. If you have not heard of Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline, I suggest you google her right away and watch some of her you tube videos and order a book or two of hers. She will change the way you see yourself and your children. She will change your mind and give you the tools to have awesome days with the children you serve.
Click here to see one of her Conscious Discipline books
Click here to go to Becky Bailey’s website
Click here to go to her You Tube Channel and view some techniques right now!