Parenting without power struggles

Parenting Without Power StrugglesCouple years ago, I was introduced to Susan Stiffelman’s work via her presentation, “Parenting Conscious Children”.  Then recently, I came across an article she wrote in the Huffington Post, What Is the Best Approach to Discipline.

So when her book Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm, and Connected, was available at my library, I promptly requested it.  It promised to help guide me to grow up, evolve my parenting journey, and be the best version of myself.

Chapter 1:  How to Be the Captain of the Ship Through Calm and Stormy Seas.  She says our kids need us to be the “Captain of the ship in their lives” and differentiates being in control vs. being in charge.   Being in control is “an attempt to compensate for feeling powerless or afraid.  Being in charge means that we’re capable of keeping our cool even when the seas are rough – or our kids are pushing our buttons, defying our requests, or melting down.  When our children perceive us as steady and calm – regardless of their moods or behavior – they can relax, knowing they can count on us to get them through the challenging moments of their lives….Remain calm, at all costs.”

Susan takes a client (who has problem of getting her son out of bed in the morning to go to school) through a process called the Work by Byron Katie, which consists of asking four questions about a belief or thought that precipitates our upset.

1. Is it true?
2.  Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you feel (or react) when you think that thought?
4. Who would you be without that thought?

She also asks another question, what are three reasons why her son should not get up on time to go school.  It’s a really good example and worth the read.

I also love her distinction between a threat and a consequence.  A threat is delivered with anger, frustration, and aggression.  “If you don’t clean up your toys, I’m throwing them in the trash!” A consequence is presented with compassion, it feels clean and calm.  I know it’s not much fun to clean your toys, but keep in mind what we talked about, if you leave them scattered all over the floor when it’s time to tidy up, they’ll go into a bag for a week and you won’t have them to play with for awhile.”