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A Parenting Winner: Dr. Tsabary's Out of Control

A smarter way to discipline.
A smarter way to discipline.Namaste Publishing

Parenting advice seems to come from all corners--relatives, in-laws, friends and neighbors alike. Then there are those like Drs. Phil and Markham who offer online help when it comes to disciplining our kids. And among their disciplinary suggestions:

  • Incentives Charts and stickers
  • Rule Charts
  • Timeouts
  • Grounding
  • Redirecting
  • Withholding privileges
  • Rewards

You get the idea, and, let’s face it, most of us have tried at least one or two of these so-called remedies, as we try to civilize and control our kids’ behaviors and get them to listen—obey—us. As for the success of such measures—iffy, if not in the short-term, then often in the long.

And that’s what makes Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s latest, Out of Control: Why Disciplining Your Child Doesn’t Work … And What Will such an effective alternative to the usual “tried and true” measures of getting our children to behave.

A quick read of these excerpts from the book will convince you that she knows what she’s talking about:

  • “The idea of ‘giving’ consequences misses the point. We don’t give consequences. They aren’t something we have to pick, as if we were wandering through the aisles of a supermarket selecting items to put in our cart. A consequence is something that automatically built into a situation without us having to ‘do’ anything at all … Consequences are natural, which means they are directly connected to the situation at hand. You might say they are inbuilt. All that’s required of the parent is to allow the consequence to take effect—and that’s the difficult part. We’ve been so schooled to impose ‘lessons’ on our children that it feels counter-intuitive to allow the lesson to emerge naturally out of the situation.”
  • “Following the natural way allows our children to learn that every action evokes a reaction. Taking ourselves out of the equation and letting them experience the results of their behavior helps them develop a meaningful relationship with their world. Because we are no longer in the middle, between them and their experiences, they don’t view us as an enemy to be resisted but as an ally to be sought for comfort, encouragement, and guidance.”

In this way, children internalize the behavior we hope to see, all without our coaxing, bribing, and/or coercing. Bottom line says the author: “The key, then, to raising a self-disciplined child is for them to learn for themselves—a process we undercut when we impose the lesson on them.”

And that, then, is what this book is all about: Changing it up and allowing natural consequences to instruct and modify behavior instead of those inflicted by adults.

As Dr. Tsabary reminds us: “When we see the beauty in our children, their amazingly individual way of being, we are filled with reverence for them. All imperfection is understood in the light of a work in progress—a work initiated and sustained from within the child’s own being. Our responsibility is to protect, nurture, and offer a reflection of the child’s own essence, never to impose our way on them …”

And she teaches us how to do just that with make-sense explanations, realistic scenarios, and proven strategies.

My suggestion: Follow her lead.