A Discipline Report Card

In studying parenting for the last several decades, I was deeply impacted while attending a course at Temple University. It was on the subject of discipline, led by Dr. Mel Silberman. Author of the book, How to Discipline without Feeling Guilty, Dr. Silberman guides his students in understanding the role that assertiveness plays when parents are disciplining their children. According to Amazon, the book still remains in high demand.

Parenting, discipline and assertiveness

Diane Wagenhals, Program Director, Master Trainer, Curricula Writer, Researcher, Mother and Grandmother

Key to understanding assertiveness is appreciating that an assertive person is not an angry person or an out-of-control person. Rather, he or she is a combination of calm, firm and in charge.

When parenting, parents should assume the role of assertive disciplinarians whenever children need boundaries, structure and outside control, until they eventually can gain self-control and judgment. Parents benefit from learning that effective discipline is not an emotional event.

As my colleagues and I developed discipline curriculum for our parenting education center, we came up with the image that parents need a kind of Discipline Report Card, which was modeled after Dr. Silberman’s theories and approaches.

The very first grade parents need to earn is a “C”, which stands for “Calm.”

Effective disciplining requires a high degree of calmness on the part of the parent. This helps them stay in a strongly assertive mental place and can promote calmness in children who are sometimes out of control; yelling, hitting or throwing temper tantrums.

Dr. Silberman shares some clues that we as parents might need to learn about the skill of being calm, which include feeling and/or being:

  • out of control
  • angry
  • like you are bargaining
  • defensive
  • in a power struggle
  • like you are arguing your point
  • manipulated by your child
  • in need of your child’s approval
  • fearful of your child’s anger, power, disapproval
  • compromised or helpless
  • the need to convince/cajole your child to get compliance
  • resentful of your child’s behaviors or demands
  • like you are walking on eggs
  • unsure of your right and duty to be the final authority
  • that your child’s needs are more important than yours and should always come first
  • that if your child begs for something long enough, both of you know you will probably give in
  • like your own self-esteem is tied up with your child’s outward expression of love. It may seem that your child may withdraw that love if you don’t comply with demands.
  • that you must do battle to get your way with your child
  • that you need your child to appreciate what you are doing for him/her

What a powerful list! I think most parents who have not actively learned the skill of intentional calmness can see themselves in one or more places on this list.

Note: this is part one about using a Discipline Report Card; part two will be next Wednesday.

Invitation to Reflect:

  1. Do you need to work on being calmer in your parenting role?
  2. What areas of calming do you need to work on the most?

Diane Wagenhals