When you think of the skills you want your children to have, isn't problem-solving one of them? I think it's safe to say that it's unrealistic to expect our children to have all the answers when they grow into adults, but it's realistic to teach them the skills necessary to find those answers and solve problems.
In today's world, the words 'discipline' and 'punishment' get a bad rap. No one 'punishes' their children anymore. We 'correct an action'. We don't 'discipline', we offer consequences. I do like the new terminology, but is it a new way of doing what we have done in the past? When we were growing up, the rules were laid out just like they should be today. If we misbehaved or disobeyed, we were given *gasp* a punishment. Maybe you were sent to your room for the rest of the day in order to think about what you've done. That transitioned into time-outs which are minutes children spend in a corner staring at the wall while they think about what they've done. In today's world, we're better at helping our children 'think about what they've done' by giving choices and talking about the consequences of those choices. It starts small. We tell our 4-year old that if they don't eat their veggies, they won't get dessert. The 4-year old is not happy to hear this, but learns quickly that if they do eat their veggies, there is a dessert at the end. They learn that if they don't eat their veggies, there's no dessert. Later in life, we tell our 12-year old that if they don't finish their homework, they can't play Minecraft with their friends. They learn that until homework is done, there's no time creating worlds and playing games with other Minecrafters. At 16, we don't have to tell our children to eat their veggies because they've learned that lesson we may be telling our kids that if they don't keep their grades up, they don't get the car. Again, they know the choice is theirs and the consequences are clear.
I think this translates well into adulthood. Our bills tell us a due date. If we don't pay by the due date, there's a late fee. If we still don't pay, there are more negative consequences. If we do pay on time, though, there are positive consequences. Our boss tells us what our hours are and what our job is. If we do well and follow those rules, we get rewards like raises. If we don't, there are negative consequences.
In the end, I do think we're taking a better approach to building well-balanced kids who think for themselves. What are your thoughts?
Karen Becker is an author, speaker and personal growth coach. She has a Master's Degree in Counseling and applies these skills when coaching clients. She has years of experience coaching clients in all areas of life: parenting, co-parenting after divorce and in personal growth/wellness. She can be reached at email@example.com.