A common and really important question. How to discipline your child with love? Okay, Live On Purpose parents, quick review. What is your job? Your job as a parent is to love them no matter what and even if. Disciplining with love, you know what? I don't even think that it's truly discipline unless it's done with love. If it's something else, it's some kind of domination. Love is an essential part of the equation. Now, can I put this into context for you? Because all the research that we've done over the years in psychology leads to the same conclusion. This is the most common finding that you can find in child development literature. There are 2 things that are necessary for a child to be well-adjusted and stable in their life. Those 2 things are love and discipline. There are different words that are used in the different studies but basically that's what it comes down to. Love and discipline or structure. So, discipline with love is essential to your child being well-adjusted and stable in their life. Let's look at that word discipline.

Discipline has in its very roots the idea of learning. Why would our children need to learn something? Here's where we get into a dilemma sometimes. We want to discipline our children because it makes our life easier as a parent. Maybe that's not the best approach. What is it that the child needs to learn in order for them to have the best life possible? You see the shift? So, we're not disciplining children so that our world is more organized or structured or more convenient or less chaotic. Now, that will happen. That's secondary. The primary purpose of the discipline is to assist a child to learn something that ultimately allows them to experience more joy in life. I know that that's subtle but I think it's also important as parents to review that from time to time and come back to what is the purpose for this thing. It's about that child, it's not about us. We've been talking philosophy and I know you get the philosophy. The philosophy is important because that's what drives the practical application. Let's get practical for a moment about discipline in love and give you some strategies.

Now if you take the love out, these are just manipulations. So, it really turns into effective discipline when you do it in the context of love. Stay with me on that. When you are giving your child a task to accomplish, give them 2 choices. Now, there's always 3 or 4 choices and others that they could make up on their own, but I'm talking about 2 specific choices. So, let's say that you're loading up to go to the store and your 3-year-old is resisting. Okay. And then I'll use an example from an older kid too. Your 3-year-old is resisting. “I don't want to go.” Let's give them 2 choices. “Sweetie, you can come out to the car on your own two feet or you can come on Mommy's two feet. Which one would you prefer?” Notice there's something important about these two choices. You're okay with both of them. Honestly, if you give your child two choices and you're okay with one but not the other, which one are they going to pick? I know. It kind of rolls that way, doesn't it? If you're okay with both of them then it doesn't matter. And you just took yourself out of the equation. “What I think is not important. I'm okay with either choice. You pick one of these.” You're okay with both of them.

Now, they're going to try to choose door number three, aren't they? “No, I don't want to do either of those.” Okay. So, here's the other important thing about these two choices. You control one of them. One of them you can enforce, 100%. You don't need their buy-in, you don't need their cooperation. You control it 100%. This is so crucial because if they choose door number three, a lot of parents are just like, “Aah” and then  they get frustrated. It's like, “Well, my kid won't choose one of these things that I gave them.” That's because you can't control one of them. You get in control of one of the choices and then chances are they're going to pick the other one because kids really love to have control over their own life. But whether they do or they don't, you're okay with either choice and you can enforce one. That one becomes the default.

Let's talk teenagers because teenagers and 3-year-olds are very different and there's a lot of other ages in between. But this will give you an idea. Let's say that your teenager wants to go to a party. I had this with one of my son's when he was I think 16 years old. He came to me and said, “Dad, can I go to this party?” Your first response is going to be, “Tell me more about the party.” Because they've kind of kept you in the dark, they haven't given you all of the crucial details. Let's say you find out enough about the party that you don't really want them to go. Let's give them two choices.  “Son, I don't approve of the party, so you've got two choices. You can stay home tonight. Hang out with us, get your homework done, do some family stuff, whatever. Or you can go to the party without my permission.” Well, that's going to confuse them, isn't it? “What do you mean? Go to… What do you mean?” “Well, I'm not giving you my permission to go to the party, is that clear? You do not have my permission. I'm not saying you can't go because you've snuck out before and you've gone without my permission. And that's one of your choices. So, you can stay home tonight or you can go to the party without my permission.” Now, I like to throw this part in especially with teenagers. “Any questions?” And I like to say that with a lilt to my voice, I raise my eyebrows just a touch. Because it means you better be asking some questions about this if you have some. A lot of kids don't have much curiosity so that I don't ask him any questions. Kids who have worked with me for a while, they'll say, “Well, what happens if I go without your permission?” “That's a pretty good question. And we can talk about what the consequences would be if you were to go without my permission. but that is absolutely an option and I'm okay with that one. I don't want you to go to the party. So, if you go, you're going without my permission.” Now, do you see how we've set up these two choices? I'm okay with either one. I have a preference that he stays in so I am going to acknowledge that. But I'm okay with this one. Why? Because I know that he's going to learn something from the consequences he'll receive if he goes without my permission. I'm not going to lose my cool. I'm simply going to enforce. Do you see how that works?

So, there's an example with a 3-year-old another one with a teenager. Give them 2 choices. You're okay with either choice and you control one of them. Give that a try. You can find more information at parentingpowerup.com.