The Discipline Report Card: Continuing with Confidence

As we continue to explore the subject of discipline, and specifically some of the components we call the Effective Discipline Report Card, I have focused the last two blogs on one of the “Cs” of that report card – Confidence.

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

Confidence does not come naturally to every parent and can be closely connected with a parent’s self-esteem. Self-esteem is often damaged when a parent suffers from deep-seated feelings of shame, often the result of messages received when he or she was young.

Once an adult, we all carry within us our earliest beliefs about our worth, beliefs that were transmitted through how we were parented and specifically how we were disciplined or punished.

Ironic, isn’t it? The expectation for parents is that they parent with confidence. But if their own parents instilled more self-doubt than confidence through their disciplining, how does a parent somehow manufacture unfelt confidence when disciplining?

Parents who have deep-seated shame often struggle to believe they are competent enough to parent well, especially when disciplining. It becomes easy to either cave in to a child’s demands or to become angry and even outraged when the child dares to defy their commands, often stemming from this lack of confidence in one’s rights, responsibilities and abilities. When the child is not instantly obedient, it can become an ongoing, vicious cycle where the parent blames their child for continuing their feelings of inadequacy.

I encourage parents to take the time to study the subject of shame to see if and how it resonates with their own inner core beliefs and then to consider how these beliefs might be impacting their confidence as a parent.

An excellent author and researcher, Brene Brown, provides us with the gift of basic information about shame and its impact. Her books include Women and Shame and Daring Greatly. Readers are encouraged to go to YouTube and see her many interviews, Ted talks and presentations (for example, “Shame is Lethal,” seen here:

Another excellent book is John Bradshaw’s Healing the Shame that Binds You.

Recognizing and then addressing underlying issues around shame might interfere with a parent’s abilities to disciple with confidence. It is an important journey for all parents who might struggle with underlying beliefs about their abilities and competencies to discipline well.

Being confident when disciplining doesn’t just happen. For many parents, it takes a lot of personal work to address underlying beliefs that can produce self-doubt.

Invitation to Reflect?

1. How confident do you find you are when disciplining?
2. To what extent do you feel self-doubt?
3. If you do, is that self-doubt somehow connected to underlying feelings of shame,    especially shame that occurred when you were disciplined or punished as a child?

Diane Wagenhals, Director of Institute for Professional Education and Development, Lakeside Educational Network