A must read and real eye opener!
My rating: 4.5 stars
This book No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind (2016) by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, has changed my life!
I bought this book to teach me useful ways to discipline my 21-month-old daughter and it has been a real eye opener. I've been able to minimise the meltdowns and misunderstandings and become a better parent since reading it.
I'm new to this motherhood role. Now my first-born has entered toddlerhood she is pushing boundaries. I’ve had days I couldn’t wait to be over, where she has been clingy, emotional and strong headed. I remember counting down the hours until I needed to put her to sleep so I could get some peace.
She has had a good tantrum or two, and often I found myself not sure how to handle tricky situations. Part of me felt like I needed to be ‘tough’ and not give in to her demands, but part of me found it easier to just let her have her way.
I question myself all the time asking about the long-term consequences of my words and actions. What am I teaching her now? And how will this affect her developing character?
As a new mum, you get a lot of “advice” on practically everything parenting related. You get told what you shouldn’t do or say when it comes to talking to your kids. But what CAN you say?
I remember being at a play group and a child (around 18 months old) was having a tantrum crying hysterically in the corner of the room. All the other mums in the play group were reassuring the mother that she was doing the “right thing” by allowing her child to cry in the corner for what seemed like at least ten minutes or more.
“Just let him cry it out”, they said. Being a new mum myself I was looking up to these other mums, many who were much more experienced than me, and was taking mental notes, “OK so if a tantrum comes on you just let them cry it out” I said to myself.
After reading this book, well... my mindset has changed. It has made me question the message I'm giving my daughter. The book says that when I ignore my child during a tantrum I am basically saying to her “I don’t want to be around you when you’re not your best”, but this is when she needs me most.
The way we interact with our kids when they’re upset significantly affects how their brains develop, and therefore what kind of people they are, both today and in the years to come.
So I bought this book to help me understand her, and give me the skills to be able to handle situations in a helpful and productive manner. Because at the end of the day we all want our children to be in a thriving environment, to nurture them, and allow them to grow into the great person they are destined to be.
To say this book has helped me a lot is an understatement. This is what I’ve learnt from the book:
How the brain works
It has taught me about the make-up of the brain and made me realise that she's still too young to be able to process things in a logical manner. When she has automatically hit the dog, even though I have told her numerous times to be gentle, I now know why. Her ‘upstairs’ brain that involves complex thinking, logic and reasoning is not yet developed, and she is unable to control these impulses at her age. It is undeveloped at birth and grows over time, and will not be fully formed until she reaches their mid-twenties. Crazy hey?
What discipline means
It sounds so basic, but it made me think about what discipline really means. It’s about teaching not punishing. I feel there is a lot of negative assumptions about discipline. It’s not about creating fear and control, but about creating a good relationship with your child based on respect and good communication.
To be flexible but not rigid
It has helped me realise that maybe I'm expecting too much from her at times, and to cut her some slack. Not by being weak and giving in, but by setting clear boundaries and communicating with her. Sometimes it is OK to compromise and involve her in the process, it doesn’t mean I am being weak.
How to communicate better
It has given me a lot of self-reflection about the way I communicate. I’ve realised that a lot of my communication with my daughter was very commanding and demanding. The book has suggested good ways to say things in a way that won’t make her defensive, and get good outcomes. It has also made me more conscious of my tone, and made me realise how important it is to stay calm when I feel like exploding.
The steps in the book have been very useful. I’ve followed the suggestions to first appeal to her emotional needs by connecting with her. I do this by acknowledging her feelings and calming her down with a cuddle or a soft touch. Then I listen and ask the right questions. My aim is to figure out why the behaviour is happening. Then I redirect and repair the situation, to alleviate any drama. So far, I have been trying these tactics and they’ve been working MOST of the time.
It’s about good decisions
It’s about giving our kids opportunities to make better choices. By far the best tip I’ve received from the book is to limit saying “no”, and instead say “yes” with a condition. This works magic! For example, when she wants me to read another book to her before bed, and I’ve already read ten, instead of saying “no more books” which would always bring on a drama, I say “yes, we will read another book tomorrow”. By helping kids recognise limits we help them to be better equipped to put on the brakes themselves.
I now know by being proactive rather than reactive I can avoid lots of drama! Being in tune with her needs makes all the difference. For example, if I know she is tired and hungry, I’m not going to drag her into a clothing store so I can try on ten dresses. By first letting her have a nap and lunch, then taking her shopping, this will avoid a whole lot of drama.
I have heard people question the amount of attention you give a child, often saying that too much attention, especially when they are misbehaving, spoils them. However, this book has reassured me that giving my child lots of attention and love, does NOT spoil her. Buying them lots of things does. There is a difference.
We’re not perfect
This book also acknowledges that we aren’t perfect. There will be times where we will do or say things we aren’t particularly proud of, but that’s what makes us human. And that’s ok. Even these imperfect moments are teaching us and our children something.
The book will not only help me with my daughter but with many relationships in my life. I even found I was using some of the tips when communicating with my husband. So whether you are a mother, father, carer or a grandparent, you will learn something from this book. It’s never too late either. Even if your child is ready to graduate from school, there is still benefit in learning how to communicate better.
This book is written in a way that is fascinating, engaging, easy to read and there are some cartoon illustrations and examples. It is a great resource for all parents.
I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did! Have a read and let me know what you think.
Has this book changed your life too?