Are you tired of correcting EVERY mistake your child makes? Are you redirecting all her incorrect actions and nipping every bad choice in the bud? That sounds like deeply invested parenting, but are you also EXHAUSTED? Do you feel you must choose every battle in order to make a difference and raise a good kid?
Parenting doesn’t have to be exhausting (unless it’s the newborn phase, because, well there’s no way around that except for a night nurse). If parenting is exhausting and you don’t have a newborn, it’s because you’re choosing to correct too many things. Remember, our goal is to get our children to make good choices once we’re NOT AROUND to support them.
So, how do we stop FIGHTING EVERY BATTLE?
Enter: Family Values
The term “family values” gets thrown around a lot, but taking the time to decide what you and your family ACTUALLY value makes all the difference in how you discipline, how your family gets along, and how smoothly your household runs.
Before I took the time to decide upon our family values, and then started correcting from the place of our agreed-upon values, I was burnt out. For context, I’m an ADHD mom with 3 ADHD kids. That means emotions run high, and bad choices happen daily, probably even hourly in our home.
So, how does incorporating family values keep parents from becoming exhausted?
Here’s an example:
It’s the morning before school in September (a very hot day). Your child comes down wearing a wool dress and boots. You remind her that it will be 95 degrees today so a wool dress may not be the move.
However, your child is insistent. She loves this dress and wants to wear it.
Is this a battle you will choose? What value are you upholding if you force her to change? In our family, uniqueness is a value. So, I’m actually going against our values if I force her to change.
So, what could a parent do? Well, I simply put a t-shirt and shorts in her backpack and let her know they were there.
After this exchange, I wasn’t exhausted, there was no argument and no chaos before my kids went to school that day. My daughter wasn’t angry that she couldn’t express herself, and our relationship was not in turmoil over an outfit.
And, guess what she was wearing when she got off the bus that afternoon? Yep, the t-shirt and shorts.
So, how do we discipline from the place of our values?
Well, we start by identifying our core family values.
Here’s a link with some questions/value samples to get your thoughts going:
Then follow these steps to ensure it’s a group effort:
- At dinner or another time when the whole family is together, ask your kids what they think your family values are.
- You can suggest values like honesty, kindness, community involvement, connection, freedom, or use the examples from the values creator link above.
- Come up with a list of at least 12, then vote on your top 5.
- As a follow-up, grab some paints and a canvas, or keep it simple and use a whiteboard to make a painting/display board of your family values.
- Each family member contributes to the display (younger kiddos can draw a picture for a value) and place it somewhere prominent.
- Refer to your values OFTEN as you redirect, correct, or discipline your child.
- You can also use the values chart for yourself. Call out your own mistakes too, and show your child how your action didn’t line up with which specific family value. “I raised my voice at your brother for not taking out the recycling. That wasn’t kind and Kindness is our family value. I should’ve asked if he could do it in a calm voice.”
- ONLY correct behaviors that don’t align with your values.
When you discipline through your values there are fewer arguments and reactions. It’s a calmer, more peaceful way to handle infractions.
But, there is an additional tool that can make value parenting even EASIER!
Another tool to turn from an exhausted parent into a calm parent, is leveraging your DISCIPLINE TYPE.
What is your discipline type? In the Simplicity Parent coaching program I use with my clients we identify 3 basic discipline types: the Governor, the Gardener, or the Guide. Each type has strengths and weaknesses and matches best with one of the 3 stages of child development.
I encourage you to take the quiz and discover your discipline type: https://www.simplicityparenting.com/
The self-discovery alone is worth the 5 minute investment of your time.
Here’s an example of how the discipline type works together with values parenting:
One of my clients is the governor. She’s very good at being consistent and helping young children do what they need to do by telling. This works great for her 4 and 7 year-old (the governor is best for children ages 1-7).
However, there is friction between her and her 12 year-old. A 12 year-old is better suited for the gardener discipline type. This type disciplines by taking a step back and suggesting what a child should do. The gardener gives the child tools, and becomes a sounding board as he makes decisions based on suggestions, resources and feedback.
Once my client realized her type wasn’t a good match for her eldest, she still used her values to correct behaviors, but would suggest rather than tell her son what might work best. She also would stop herself from using her default discipline style when she felt inclined to simply tell him what to do. As a result, their relationship improved and she now has fewer arguments with son.
If you want to hear more about values-based coupled with discipline type parenting, my partner, Ava, and I discussed this very topic with our Facebook group:
Here is the link to the video: