Young children are cute and we feel comfortable empowering them; we find it easy and it feels natural to communicate with them in positive ways. But we often treat them differently when the same children become adolescents. Should we?
- If a youngster doesn’t know how to ride a bike, we teach.
- If a youngster doesn’t know how to mow the lawn, we teach.
- If a youngster doesn’t know how to demonstrate good manners, we teach.
- If an adolescent doesn’t know how to behave, we teach? Or do we punish?
Few young people are maliciously non-compliant. Too often, instead of using a positive approach to promote responsible behavior, we resort to negative methods. Rather than resorting to punishing, we can create a positive mindset toward discipline that allows us to view inappropriate behaviors as an opportunity to teach—certainly a less stressful and far more effective approach.
If you wanted to teach a young person how to swing a baseball bat, play a musical instrument, or hit a nail with a hammer, it would never occur to you to use punishment as a way to help the youngster be successful. In such situations it seems obvious that you would teach and coach. By adopting the same attitude and choosing to think of children as merely lacking skills—rather than as being noncompliant when they make mistakes or misbehave—you will find it easy to respond in positive and constructive ways.