Child training vs. child discipline

Child training vs. child discipline

Renee EllisonApr 18, '21

I want to share the underpinnings of the strategy I shared with you in the recent blog about a child who is prone to scream.  Discipline and training are not the same thing.  They are approached differently.  Discipline happens at the "scene of the crime" and is generally punitive.  Training attacks that same issue in all the calm hours before the next incidence of it, and again some time after the next incidence of it.

Training educates the child in the winning concept, and gets the child to buy into it on a mental level rather than on an emotional one.  In the middle of an "episode" children are dominated by their emotions and can't see straight :)  Training anticipates the problem, prepares the child for the problem, and thoroughly involves schooling them on the particular character issue involved.  Training uses multiple channels of instruction.  For example, a parent might draw stick figures on paper to help the child see the dynamic outside of himself, objectively.  Or, point it out when it is happening—or not happening—between other people.  A parent can do "dress rehearsals" and practice sessions over any issue.

It works like this:

If the child is perhaps sluggish at coming when you call, then you might have "coming lessons" at a calm time.  A mom could say, "Go to your room.  Mommy is going to whisper for you to come.  Let's see how fast you can drop what you are doing and come quickly.  Let's practice it over and over now several times in different places."  Now you would take your children outside and let them walk to the other side of the yard, and then you say "Come" very calmly, and they must come quickly and not dawdle, etc.  So, with the screaming you might approach it in a number of ways.

Show your child how you are going to take something from Daddy and Daddy doesn't scream.  Ask her, "What if Mommy screamed every time Daddy wanted something?", etc.  You might sketch out some disturbing dynamic happening between two stick figure siblings and might show two different outcomes on two different sheets of paper—one child's face happy and the other's all contorted over the same problem.

You might say, "Now we are going to practice—now I'm going to hand you something, and we are going to practice having Mommy take it from you and then we'll practice it again, having your brother politely ask and take it from you—and we are going to watch you cheerfully let go."  Etc., etc.  Once a parent gets the concept of training for the future episode over that same issue, it is easy to think of a thousand applications—and over time they get to be quite creative.  :)

This is tedious, but the results are well worth it.  I hope this helps clarify what was behind the blog about how to train a child not to scream.


For more on this, read our small softcover book, Beyond Discipline: Train your child's character.

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