“One day your child will make a mistake or a bad choice and run to you instead of away from you and in that moment you will know the immense value of peaceful, positive, respectful, parenting.” – L.R. Knost

I begin my private coaching sessions by asking my clients to share a win. As we will likely be spending the rest of the hour discussing what’s hard, it’s so important to spend some time highlighting what actually has gone well. 

Last week my client, Dave, shared an amazing win. He gave me permission to share it with you. 

Dave’s 5 YO son likes to play with the adjustable bathroom mirror and has been asked time and again not to do so as it could easily break. The day before his call with me, his son came to him and said, “Um, Daddy? The bathroom mirror got a little loose ‘cause I was playing with it. I’m sorry.” 

This is so huge!! 

Instead of not saying anything and hoping no one would notice (and possibly lying when they did!), his son came to him to tell him what had happened. This shows how much this little guy trusts his dad to help him when he makes a mistake instead of getting angry. He knew his dad would focus on repair and solving the problem, not on punishing him for his mischief. 

Maybe this doesn’t feel like such a big deal now, but let’s fast forward a few years to the teen years. Let’s say Dave’s son said he was going to be at a friend’s house but he actually went to a party and found himself without a safe ride home. If Dave’s son was afraid of getting ‘in trouble’ he might take some dangerous chances instead of calling his dad for help. 

But I bet he would call his dad — because as he grows up he is learning, “When I have a problem or I make a mistake, my dad will help me.” They are building up trust. His dad is teaching him, “I might not be happy with your choices or your mistakes sometimes, but I will never punish you for them or shame you.” 

Punishment? Hurts the relationship and makes us feel shame. Shame makes us lash out and behaviour gets worse. 

Natural consequences are enough to help kids learn to make better choices.

Dave’s son has learned, “This mirror actually can break! They were right!” and stop himself from playing with it in the future. Dave’s hypothetical teen son has learned that there are actual dangers that can come along with sneaking and lying. He has also learned how bad it feels to have strained his parents’ trust.  

Kids really don’t need punishments in order to learn. And if we use them? They won’t come to us in the future. 

What next? In both cases- focus on repair. Repair is healing and helps us feel like good people again. 

Repair. Dave and his son can fix the mirror together. A teen and their parents can figure out how to rebuild trust and get curious about what he learned from his experience. They can talk about safety. They can talk about honesty.

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