Alternative to Punishment #8: The Freedom to Choose
Last week's alternative was about "self-relecting" and gaining awareness
into our upbringing to discover how our own parents have heavily influenced our
own parenting with our child.
This week's alternative is about taking the awareness one step
further with "choice".
As we discussed last week, many of us never reflect on our actions, nor on our
parenting habits and instead we run on autopilot, reacting to our children and
making decisions based upon how our own parents treated us, without even
We either repeat what our parents did to us, or we rebel, and do the exact
opposite, in both instances, we really have no "choice" in the matter. Because
when we run on autopilot, there's no space for choice, right? You're just
reacting impulsively to whatever happens - reacting is not choosing.
For example; smoking, indulging in unhealthy foods, and biting your nails...
If you had a choice, would you do these unhealthy habits? No, of course not,
but you do them because you've submitted your will power to the "habit" of them,
and without independent will power, there's no choice.
Choice begins with actually choosing a different action.
So after you've discovered the reasons for reactive parenting
habits through "Self-Reflection", it's now time to take your power back
and ACTUALLY choose.
How to Reclaim Your Power to Choose ?
The first step is to become AWARE of your habits and reactions when it
comes to parenting, which is accomplished through “Self-Reflection”.
Most importantly you want to discover where these habits and tendencies
originated from. Then the next step is simple, but not always easy....
Let's use some examples...
If you put your daughter to bed every night in her own room,
and she doesn't want to go to bed by herself, it's a good idea to
reflect on the situation. She may be afraid of sleeping in the
dark or afraid of being alone.
These are both natural fears for a young child under six years old.
Many young children are afraid to sleep by themselves. young children
are afraid to sleep by themselves.
But because WE slept alone as children, it's common practice to
put babies and children to sleep alone. We also may be putting
our children to bed by themselves because we're tired and
want some "me" time. There could be multiple reasons...
It's important to see if your child has a need for closeness
and protection that you're not seeing because you're simply doing
to your child what was done to you.
As we discussed earlier, doing something because it's what was
done to us isn't always the best idea. However when you become
aware of the many misconceptions and assumptions that we inherent
from our own parents, and once you become aware of what your
child really needs, only then do you have the clarity and power to
choose another option for your family.
Making different choices than the ones your parents made isn't
always easy to do. And making a new choice usually means
"giving something up" in the process.
What do I mean by giving something up?
I mean you may have to give up:
• Being right - I like to be right, but I've learned that "being right" can
sometimes be at the expense of my happiness and good relationships
with those around me.
• Old ideas - I have inherited from my parents, or culture, about parenting.
• Pride - I always want to know best, maybe I have to give up thinking
I know it all in order to open my mind to learning something that could
actually be better for me, and my family.
• Ego - My ego likes to be in control and run the show, maybe I have to
give that up too?
There are many different reasons why change is sometimes
uncomfortable. But the bottom line is that in growth and moving
forward, sometimes the road is bumpy along the way.
Just know that signs of discomfort don't mean you're doing the
wrong thing, on the contrary, they often mean that you're growing!
Let's use another example...
My son is sometimes quite bossy. Just last week he ordered me
to do something. What he said really triggered me and I started to
get furious. I was fuming, thinking;
"Who does he think he is? I'm in charge here!
I need to teach this brat some respect, blah, blah, blah..."
But the truth is that I felt proud and my ego was hurt, so I reacted.
I know if I would have let myself act on these thoughts, it would
have been comfortable. But upon further inspection, I realized that
I wasn't meeting one of my son's needs, so there was no use in reacting.
So I didn't. Believe me, it was hard to bite my tongue but I realized it
was in everyone's best interests not to react with harsh discipline.
Make choices with your children based on the moment, not on the
past. Whether the past is your own childhood, the stress from the past
week at work, or from the past hour of your listening to your child's
Sometimes in order to find the wherewithal to deal with all the demands
of being a parent and still respond in these new ways with your child, you
may have to take time to reflect about your parenting. And even talk to
a friend (See lesson 5 in Busy Moms Guide to Awesome Parenting
to learn more about this). But it's well worth it.
Try this over the next week...
1. Look at the parenting practices you use which you learned from your
own parents. Things that your parents said or did that you now do or say to
For example; rules and punishments, soothing methods, and more.
2. Write down all the different ways you do this.
3. After writing them down, reflect on them for a while
4. Then, decide whether or not they are working for you. Consciously choose
for yourself whether or not you want to use these practices with your own child.
If they work and you feel good about them, choose to keep them. But if they aren't
working as well as you like and you don't feel great about them, choose to throw
them away, and replace them with something else.
I hope, over these last 8 weeks you've gained a deeper insight into yourself and
are feeling closer to your child.
Remember, talk is cheap. If you truly want to reap the benefits of this e-report,
try out these alternatives yourself and put the tools into action. If you haven't tried
any of the alternatives yet, then start today. Like we just discussed, humans are
creatures of habit, so if you haven't done anything over the last 7 weeks, now is the
time to start.
Busy Mom Ashley
Busy Moms Guide to Awesome Parenting
An Essential 7 Week Course for Busy Moms!