Discipline & Spirit, excerpt from Spiritual Parenting

Below is taken from Chapter Seven, “Discipline and the Spirit” of Spiritual Parenting

By Susan Gale

Discipline, only after love, is the most important thing a parent can give a child. However, discipline is not to be confused with punishment. Punishment is probably the least effective thing a parent can offer a child. Punishment only teaches children to lie, make excuses, learn ways to avoid being caught, and resent authority as well as create innumerable emotional problems. It is generally arbitrarily administered and designed to create suffering, which is not our natural state of being.

Discipline is the ability to control oneself and one’s actions. Discipline is based on a partnership with the child in a movement towards being able to express the best that is within oneself. Discipline is allowing natural consequences to occur, providing help to the child when needed to get past those natural consequences. Most deeply spiritual people have had to exercise supreme discipline in regards to their physical and mental endurance during their preparations, which causes them to draw upon their spiritual strength to bear up under their ordeals. Edgar Cayce himself was told that he developed the ability to go outside his body in order to heal his wounds.

Parents can best teach discipline when they do not fake reality. In remembering the Law of Self, we are to know the truth of our beings. We do not pretend that things are otherwise than what they are. Maslow heralded this ability in his eight characteristics of the self-actualized person:  the ability to shed defense mechanisms.

Conflict Resolution: Conflict is inevitable. It helps us to face our shortcomings, develops strength of character, and helps us define our values. What is important is that we are able to resolve conflict without verbal or emotional violence. The first step to resolving a conflict that occurs within the family is to decide just whose problem the conflict is. Too often the parents take ownership of all conflicts, attempting to settle them for their children. If the conflict is between two of the children in the family, then the problem is theirs to resolve. While the skill of resolving conflict requires initial guidance, the children will eventually be able to resolve conflicts, if indeed the situations escalate to that level, independently. Based on the Creative Conflict Resolution program and the teaching of Joseph Bruchac of the Abenaki tribe, here are the three questions that need to be asked:

1. What happened?

Each child needs to state their version of what happened. The other child cannot interrupt (a talking stick is often helpful during this as only the person who holds the stick can talk… parents cannot even interrupt!). Children soon learn that each person has a slightly, if not drastically, different version of the event!

2. What did I do to contribute to the problem?

This is probably the most difficult part for the child. Names cannot be mentioned during this part. Thus the child cannot say “He knocked down my building so I hit him.”  She hit him because she became lost in her emotions, and she needs to say it this way so that she takes responsibility for her actions. Sometimes the child needs to say simply, “I acted like a victim and let her wreck everything.”  Sometimes the child needs to say, “I teased him until he could not take it any more. I went too far.”

Being able to state honestly how she contributed to the problem goes a long ways towards shedding defense mechanisms. Defense mechanisms are a great deterrent to solving conflicts as so much time and much energy is wasted trying to get past them.

3. What I need from you to get along from this point on.

This is when the parent must relinquish all control. The children will come to terms as to how they will get along. After all, getting along is the goal… not punishment!  Sometimes a simple “sorry” suffices. Sometimes doing the other child’s chore is enough.

When the conflict is between the parent and child, the parent at this step most often wants to know how s/he will know that this will not happen again. This is a time to talk about trust and how important it is to a family being strong. This is a time to talk about how important it is that the parent can depend upon the child to keep the family strong and walking in peace. This is the time to talk about how very important it is that no one pushes another beyond what they can endure as that is not the way of love, but rather the way of being destructive.

Susan Gale, co-author of Psychic Children and Soulful Parenting, is the manager of A Place of Light in Cherry Valley, MA.  With 30+ years of professional experience working with families as a teacher, camp director and owner of a children’s center that included a pre-K through grade accredited school, she currently helps people of all ages understand, develop and control their intuitive gifts.  For more info, please visit www.placeoflight.net.

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