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Haven’t we discussed this before? When our communications style becomes a barrier to effective discipline

December 13th, 2017 by Ed Thorney


Do I Really Sound Like That? 

Just about every parent has experienced a sense of Déjà vu when correcting their child. Haven’t we had this battle already? Why have I been unsuccessful in correcting this behavior?   

The answer to this question may lie in the way that your reaction to the behavior is being perceived by your child!  The purpose of the model is to help us think about personal interactions that haven’t gone well, and present us with alternatives.

The most common mistake (when we are stressed) is to either under-react (Comply/Avoid) or over-react (Enforce/Attack).   Comply/Avoid will often encourage children to manipulate until they get what they want.  Enforce/Attack will teach some children to fight back with even bigger energy and other children may turn inwards and shut down. Notice how these communication patterns all fall below the 9-3 line if you think of the model as a clock. These are stress reactions.

The group enjoyed commiserating on the pitfalls of these scenarios. The Communication/Influence Model provides us with alternatives! 

Without exception, we kept returning to the value of communication from the Develop Quadrant which consists of Informing and Exploring which is defined as giving and seeking new and relevant information.

It boils down to this. When a problem needs to be solved or a boundary or expectation needs to be communicated – when the child is included in the solution – the results are positive!  Collaborative problem solving occurs prior to the anticipated behavior – when you are both calm. This may mean postponing the conversation until all parties are ready for the discussion and to reach an agreement. Some people “shake on it” and find this to be a great way to establish honor. If the agreement is breached simply state, “I see you've decided not to honor our agreement.”

Many parents described how different children (siblings) respond differently to the same style of communication, and explained a need to shift to a different style with different children. Others noticed how our communication style at work may not translate as well at home.

The power of the Develop Quadrant is that when we begin the conversation – no one knows the answer to the problem. It takes both parties to participate. It concludes with an agreed answer. This shows respect for both parent and child and eliminates power struggles. We are developing the relationship around what is new and relevant information. Give it a try. Next session we will practice the art of “Family Meetings.”

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