Discipline – The Collaborative Way


I have  and will never be a fan of the word discipline; while the word itself means training that makes people more willing to obey or more able to control themselves it seems to have become a word we use in parenting when we are talking about punishment, but we don’t like to say punishment so we say discipline. As parents I believe it is our job to train our children to be responsible and independent adults and I don’t believe we get there through punishment, chastising or sitting our children on the naughty step. I believe in a collaborative approach to parenting, a style that makes sure that families work together as a team, making sure all members in that team are given equal say and are equally important. I am and will never believe that we as parents have a right to control our children. I have brought my children up never feeling the need to control them and have helped countless others do the same. As an ex-police officer I know what undisciplined children look like, believe me, and while in most cases these children needed different parenting during their formative years, none of them ever needed more punishment. I never changed a young offenders mind by threatening them. If like me you believe in collaborative parenting and want to know how we bring some order to our homes without punishing, then the process below will help you achieve that.

This process is inspired by non-violent communication techniques and stems from my experience of Restorative Justice in the police.
For this example I will use two different situations; Tom who leaves his school bag in the hallway without putting it away and Tom who is saying mean things to his sisters.
Here is how the four step process works.

1. Observe the behaviour.

Tell your child the behaviour you are seeing that you don’t like.
“Tom, you have left your bag in the hallway again”
“Tom, you are saying mean things to your sister”

2. In the next step you tell them how you feel.

“Tom, when I come home from work and I see your bag in the hallway it just make we feel so “exhausted”
“Tom when you say things like that you sister it makes me feel really sad”

3. They third step is that you tell them what you need or what you value.

“Tom, when I come home from work after a busy day I need to not have to step over your school bag”
“Tom, in our home we value each other and being kind”

4. And the final step is that you make a request.

“Tom, please put your bag away”
“Tom, please stop shouting at your sister”

That is it, then you walk away from the situation, you don’t punish if it doesn’t stop or nag or go into a mother-type rage. In my experience if you do this constantly for about a month the behaviour will stop and change. It isn’t instant and while simple I know this isn’t easy to do, but if you are willing to change the behaviour in the long term with a little more effort this technique does and will work wonders.