Parenting

STOP DISCIPLINING, AND START REDIRECTING

Let’s talk disciplining your children.

Now, bare with me, because this isn’t going to be another preaching blog post telling you how to discipline your own children. Why is it that everyone feels that they can parent your own children better than you can? I feel that society is so hung up on disciplining children. They are concerned with how you do it, how often you do it, and so forth. If your son is screaming his head off in the grocery store checkout line, the main comments you get are always about discipline. Somebody, please tell me what the obsession is with discipline children?

Somehow we have turned into a society that demands that our kids be these perfect human beings who never make mistakes, who never have outbursts of any kind, and who grow up to be pristine, proper and perfect. Why are we setting such unrealistic goals for these kids? Do you have any idea how much pressure we are putting on them? As adults, we have bad days where we are yelling, hitting the steering wheel, telling lies etc, and on these bad days there is nobody behind us yelling, spanking, lecturing or telling us to be better. So why, then, do we expect so much more from our kids when we, ourselves, can’t even live up to those expectations on a daily basis?

If you replace the word “discipline” with “guiding,” it would make a lot more sense. After all, isn’t that what our main job as parents? I feel like using those words could automatically take some of the negativity and stress that we, as parents, feel when disciplining.

Let’s face it, nobody really wants to discipline their children. We want our children to not act like the crazy a******* that they sometimes are, but they do. In all honesty, sometimes they do need a little redirection, and when that time comes sometimes we, as parents, kinda freeze, or completely lose our shit.

Now that we switched up the term discipline to guidance/redirecting, let’s take a look at another component: when do kids need a little extra redirection? I am a firm believer that we just need to let kids be kids sometimes. Not every little thing they do needs to be readjusted or redirected. For example, is it really that necessary to scold them if they don’t say yes ma’am, or if they asked for something, but forgot to say the word please? I’m pretty sure we aren’t up on our A-game when it comes to our manners 24/7, we shouldn’t expect our kids to be either. As long as they asked for it in a nice way, and didn’t go grabbing or pushing, then I’m a happy mom.

So at what point do they need redirecting? That is a question for each individual parent to answer, but here are a few scenarios that I would redirect my children.

When is redirecting needed?

– Hitting/pushing/any form of physical aggression

-Persistently not listening (having to ask them to do something multiple times)

-Telling me no (mama needs to take deep breaths when I hear them tell me no)

-Screaming because they are mad

-Back talking to my face (at least they could be smart about it)

-Losing their shit because they are unable to regulate their emotions

Those are the just half of them in our house. Our main concerns are redirecting those behaviors that would cause them real problems in the real world or in school.

Now let’s rewind a minute. We have changed the dialogue of “discipline,” we brushed upon when it’s needed, (again think of behaviors that you would like to change in the house), now the next step would be to actually carry it out and how.

This is where society likes to butt in and put their unwanted 2 cents in. How you choose to redirect your child’s action is ultimately up to you the parent. If you choose to spank, then that is what you do. I personally don’t like to spank much, because for me it’s too easy to lose my cool, and, frankly, it just doesn’t work for our kids; it doesn’t change or stop the behavior we are trying to redirect.

No matter how you choose to redirect, you need to be consistent, and you need to make sure it actually works. Redirecting, much like everything else in parenthood, is a trial and error procedure. The main goal is to stop or change a behavior, and what works for one child may not work for another. Our children are all unique individuals, so it seems fair that how we redirect them, is unique to them. Once you find a process that works for an individual child, then be CONSISTENT. Before you actually go in a begin redirection, here are some tips that I use to make sure that my redirection isn’t going to backfire on me.

Tips to keep in mind before redirection

– Keep your cool. Try not to redirect when you are mad as hell, you want to redirect when you are stern, but calm.

– Make sure both parents are on board. Being a team is really important when it comes to redirecting your kids.

– Does the redirecting fit the crime?

-Does the child genuinely no that they did something “wrong?” Sometimes as adults we make mistakes that we didn’t really know where mistakes. Make sure it is clear to the child what the rules are.

-Be Patient There is no magic pill you can give your child. They will require redirection and guidance throughout their entire life. We just have to be patient with them.

If your head is in the right place, then there is nothing left to do, except to actually go through with the redirection or guidance. Like I said before, this is a trial an error procedure. You need to really know your kids, and what would be the best way to redirect them. If spanking works for them, and it stops the behavior, then by all means do it, just make sure the child knows why it’s happening, and then be consistent.

These are a few different ways that I redirect my children.

Ways to redirect

-Remove a favorite toy (dinosaurs/barbies) for every offense. They don’t get the toy back till next morning.

-Loss of favorite activity (cheer/cub scouts) I use this for persistence of behavior no matter what I’ve done

-Long periods of being stuck in their room to cool down, 5+ minutes.

-Smack them on hand if they continue to hit (I do this one as a last resort, if they continue to hit etc. Just enough to where they don’t like it)

Ways to redirect emotional outbursts

Two of my kids are on the spectrum, and often times have a hard time expressing their emotions, whether it be angry or excited, so it turns into emotional and aggressive outbursts that need immediate redirecting for their safety and others.

Weighted blanket and total body secured in my arms The pressure often helps to calm them down

-Removal from stimulus: Headphones, sleeping mask, sitting by open window.

-Deep yoga breaths

-Exercise, dancing, trampoline, all great ways to help redirect that hyper activity

-Textured toy. Having something that is tactile can help them calm down as they play with it

-The presence of a favorite toy or picture. Once I get them calmed down, I redirect the situation by getting their mind off of what happened.

No matter what way you redirect your children, you need to be consistent, calm, and patient. Above anything else, though, there needs to be a reward system in place. You can redirect or punish all you want, but if you don’t reward them for those behaviors that are desirable, they won’t learn. They need to know that what they are doing is great, and that you are so proud of them. These positive reinforcements can be verbal phrases like “way to go,” “good job,” or “I’m so proud of you.” They can also be things like a sticker chart, a trip to the dollar store, or a special treat. Anything to let them know that these are the behaviors they need to keep doing.

So there you have it, hopefully you have a new look and feel for “disciplining.”

At the end of the day, just remember that they are a miniature you, and no matter what they do, they will always be your babies. Embrace the good days with the bad days, cherish every moment, have fun, and above all, live your HoTmEsS life the way YOU want to!!

53 Comments

  • Stephanie

    We are in the middle of crisis mode at our house lately with the attitude. I have a threenager and a five-going-on-fifteen year old right now. We do quite a few of the things you suggest and they work well for my boys: take away the kindle for the day (or in the morning if the attitude is at bedtime), quiet time in their rooms, and we’ve started teaching them some breathing exercises. There’ve been times, too, when my youngest throws himself on the floor because I grabbed the wrong color cup or something like that and I just go in the other room. When he realizes it doesn’t bother me, he stops.

  • Jennifer Tanney

    This reminds me of a seminar I just attended earlier this month. Redirecting the behavior is the key. I think consequences are really important to change the behavior in your child. Each one really needs to fit the “crime” and be reasonable. The last thing we as parents should do is overreact when we’re mad.

  • Sarah

    I have 4 kids and am also a teacher in a preschool. As I agree there are no bad children… I do not agree that any family should be discipline free. In most cases, I could say redirection could be fine. But in others, discipline is definitely needed.

  • Holly

    I love seeing the different ways parents address their children’s behavior. I think it says a lot about the parent how they speak to their children and what things they address and let slide.

  • April

    I love your philosophy on redirecting children. As a mom of four I so agree with everything you have said! I would really like to get a weighted blanket as I think it would be great for helping my kids to calm down when they are upset.

  • Mommy Dearest

    I remember when my twin boys were younger and had times where the fighting or rough housing was ridiculous. When they would finally agree to watching a show or movie I would make them first run around the house 3 times. I wanted-needed them to calm down first. They thought I was nuts, yeah they still think that. But it worked!

  • Patricia Chamberlain

    Redirection is such an important discipline tool! We use it a lot because we avoid power struggles with our toddler at all costs. Thank you for taking time to write this.

  • Dominique Brooks

    Good post! I think there may be times for both forms of managing your children. It also depends on the child — some may be less swayed by redirection and others may be very open. It’s part of the challenge of raising children figuring out what works!

  • Tara

    I agree that it is very important is being consistent, make sure the kids know the rules and if there is a consequence that they were knowingly breaking the rules. Also for safety issues – that is automatic consequence. But my kids are nearly grown now. I feel I was not as consistent as I could have been. I have great kids, but they struggle in some areas that maybe would not be a struggle if I had tried harder to correct it when they were younger. Its nice to meet another Dave Ramsey fan too.

  • Linh

    Your advice will definitely prove helpful. I totally agree that disciplining is never the best way to educate a child. Thanks for your tips!

  • Joanne

    I like the idea of redirecting and guiding rather than disciplining! My son is only 10 months but already seems very stubborn so I imagine I have lots of redirecting ahead!

  • Helene

    Every child is good, every child is unique. It’s the parents behavior, indeed, that will raise the children. Children grown up with too much or too little love might have the wrong behavior.

  • Akamatra

    We practice attachment parenting to our 2 year old daughter. Redirection works if you use it wisely. We try to be gentle and be in tune to her emotions so that she can learn them too. When that doesn’t work we redirect.

  • autumn

    I’ve found it best to redirect my kids. Raising children is so hard especially two kids with two very different personalities!

  • Wander With Ola

    What a great list of lots of amazing tips! I like the idea of guiding/redirecting instead of disciplining. I should remember this by the time I become a parent one day. Awesome post, dear!

  • Laura Dove

    I love this! Parenting is so hard but I think redirecting is far more beneficial. I have five children and it’s hard to find a parenting technique that suits each of them, but it’s all about trial and error.

  • Sara Drone

    Love this article! People have always commended me on my children being so “well behaved” I have always been one to “redirect” behavior. My children have always been taught to treat others as they would like to be treated and behave they way you would like others to behave. They learn from watching you.

  • Holly Lasha

    Discipline is definitely not a one size fits all equation. There are so many variables in deciding the right way to handle your children and their behavior. Thank you for sharing your perspective on how to handle this.

  • Di Hickman

    Oh yes to all of this! Too many people think children should be seen and not heard, but kids aren’t made to sit still! Give them something productive to do, and from an early age!

  • Kareen Liez Datoy

    Great post! I love the points you mentioned here especially on how to redirect them. To be honest, sometimes I really find it hard to discipline my daughter when she suddenly has tantrums. Thanks for this post and I will try giving guidance instead of disciplining.

  • Marie Kait

    Yes Yes Yes! I was recently with some friends when one of the moms in our group said, “you can totally tell which kids get told “no” and which ones are just distracted all the time – meaning the kids who act out and don’t listen well are the ones getting redirected. How ridiculous is that!? I redirect all the time and am totally on board with a more gentle approach to parenting.
    People care too much about disciplining their children. It becomes a point of pride and it’s just ridiculous.

  • tia mckinzie

    Def. Gives you something to think on. I am indifferent t this though. I feel like kids need discipline to an extent. You can not redirect them when they are biting and hitting people. its one thing to have them throwing a tantrum and redirect them but if they hit you can expect them to sit in time out. with my older ones they get grounded. certain actions require punishment.

  • Stephanie

    I think youve summed up in this post what in my opinion is a great method ~ redirecting especially with their emotional outbursts.. Not a parent myself yet but I can truly see how this is an effective way to correct their behavior at a young age

  • David Allen Elliott

    I can understand the re-direction if the behavior only involves the one person and not directed against another person. I have watched redirection do damage to my daughter as she didn’t feel secure because of someone try to redirect a person who had misbehaved by intentionally hurting my daughter. I appreciate wanting to keep things positive. But I just don’t believe redirection when the other person sees no consequences to the action as problematic. Maybe it worked in other instances. I just haven’t seen it do so.

  • Laurie

    I don’t have children of my own, but the redirection is exactly what my parents did to keep us in line. They were a team and they were consistent. I wish I could use some of these techniques on colleagues. Hmm…

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