Happy Healthy Homestead

Book Review: No Drama-Discipline

This month I read No Drama-Discipline

Favorite Quotes:

“Whether we are playing with them, talking with them, laughing with them, or yes, disciplining them, we want them to experience at a deep level the full force of our love and affection.”

-Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

“May I have the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I don’t, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

-Serenity prayer quote

Main Takeaways:

The authors did a great job laying a foundation for the reader by explaining the science behind children’s brain development. They spent a lot of time talking about the difference between the upstairs brain (logical/imaginative) and the downstairs brain (fight or flight/breathing), as well as how to best work with children at their stage in development. I liked how they gave several practical examples in the book. They suggest parents focus on being more proactive vs reactive and really taking the time to connect with the child, waiting to discipline them until they are at a point where they can really learn what you have to say. If you are looking for a parenting book that has a mix of science and practical tips, I think you should give this one a try. I have implemented some of the suggestions with my son and have found success.

My summary of notes:

  • Discipline means to teach
  • Most parents react to situations with punishment
  • A better long term approach is not to react but to take the no drama discipline approach which is to Connect and Redirect.
  • Connections means: giving kids attention, listening to them, valuing their contribution to problem solving, and communicating to them we are on their side.
  • Disciplinary responses should vary based on age, temperament, development, and situation.
  • Connection does not mean permissiveness and letting them do whatever we want.
  • Once we’ve connected with our child and helped him to calm himself so that they can hear and understand what we are saying, then we can redirect them toward better behavior and show a better way to handle the situation.
  • When your child misbehaves always ask yourself:
    1. Why did my child act this way (they want my attention, they are tired, etc)
    2. What lesson do I want to teach in this moment (how they can handle their frustration better, etc)
    3. How can I best teach this lesson? (In some cases it’s good to teach in the moment but in others it’s better to wait until later)
  • The brain is changing
    • It’s like a house under construction.
    • Downstairs brain includes, fear, fairness, anger, breathing, blinking
    • A child’s upstairs brain won’t be fully developed until their mid twenties. This is where the logical, thinking, and planning come in. Also imagining.
    • It’s important to realize this and not expect children to think logically.
  • The brain is changeable
    • It can be intentionally molded by experience.
    • Neuroplasticity = the way the brain physically changes based on the experiences we undergo.
    • There are certain activities that have been studied that show they positivity change the brain (meditation, piano, karate).
    • Similarly children who have been abused have higher rates and likelihood to be depressed, addicted, etc later in life.
    • All of this takes place on a cellular level, in our neurons and in the connections among brain cells called synapses. “Neurons that fire together wire together”
    • This phrase is known as “Hebb’s axiom”. Meaning that when an experience is repeated over and over it deepens and strengthens the connections among those neurons. So when they fire together they wire together.
    • A positive be experience with a math teacher can lead to neural connections that link math with pleasure. A negative experience with a math teacher or anxiety with a timed test, etc can not only lead to child not liking math but having other issues in school in general.
    • Think about what experiences you want them to have that will shape their brain. Hours of tv or violent video games…or playing sports learning teamwork, family games, outside free time, etc.
  • The brain is complex
    • The upstairs brain is receptive and the downstairs brain is reactive.
    • We want to engage our child’s receptive brain.
    • Research shows that when someone is shown a picture of another’s persons face that is angry or afraid that the amygdala fires in our own brain.
  • We want our children to be more insightful, empathetic, and make good decisions on their own.
  • Setting limits: Don’t say no for every little thing, but save them for the right things.
  • No drama discipline encourages kids to look inside themselves, consider feelings of others, and make decisions that are often difficult, even when they have the impulse or desire to do things another way.
  • When a child pulls their classmates hair because the classmate got the first snack cup. What this really means is we need to work on skills for Handling themselves better when they do t get their way.
  • If you change your perspective as a parent and look at the issues and meltdowns as a chance to positively enhance their brain and teach them it becomes better for you. Still hard, but your perspective is different.
  • When we proactively parent (rather than reactively), then we can watch/predict the time when a meltdown may be in the near future. (If they are hungry, tired, etc). Even distraction techniques in some cases.
  • Ask yourself is your child: Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?
  • Reasons to connect with child first (before disciplining):
    1. connection moves child from reactivity to receptivity
    2. Connection builds the brain
    3. Connection deepens the relationship with your child
  • Connection creates neural linkages and grows integrative fibers that literally change the brain and leave our kids more skilled at making good decisions, participating in relationships, and interacting successfully with their world.
  • Connect with children during tantrums, don’t ignore them. They need help getting back into a state where they can get emotions back in control.
  • Connecting does not mean spoiling. You can’t spoil with too much love and attention. You can spoil with giving in to all their desires, giving them too much stuff, and protecting them from disappointments or difficulties. When children get a sense of entitlement this causes issues not only now but later in their life in their relationships with others.Examples:
    • Funding child’s unfinished homework and finishing for them
    • Asking for an invite to a birthday when you heard your child wasn’t invited
    • When you do this children will expect a pain-free existence and they may not be able to handle themselves when life doesn’t turn out as anticipated.
  • Think about short term vs long term. It may be easier in the moment to say yes to a second or third treat rather than deal with a melt down. But then will they expect the same tomorrow? The brain makes associations with all our experiences.
  • It’s important to be response flexible to the situation.
  • If you are worked up or are overreacting the situation in your head or making assumptions then your reaction may not be the best. Get peaceful before responding.
  • Curiosity is the contest or of effective discipline.
  • Think: Why did my child do that?
  • You can say the exact same words in different ways. “Get in your car seat” with an angry tone or a soft calm tone.
  • It’s the ‘how’ that determines what our children feel about us and themselves, and what they learn about treating others.
  • The best non-verbal way to comfort is by touching your child, which releases feel-good hormones (like oxytocin) into their brains and body and help them to regulate levels of cortisol.
  • If our verbal and nonverbal messages contradict each other, the child will believe the non verbal.
  • We can validate their experience by saying something that communicates we understand and make kids “feel felt”
  • Instead of “what’s the big deal about missing a play date?” We could say “I understand that you’re sad, you really wanted to go.”
  • Discipline when they are ready to learn what you need to teach them, even if that means waiting
  • Be consistent but not rigid
  • Mindsight outcomes: Insight + empathy = mindsight
  • Help them understand their own emotions. (Did that make you sad when that happened)
  • Ask questions that will spark empathy for the other person
    • Strategies to help you redirect:
    • Reduce words
    • Embrace emotions
    • Describe, don’t preach
    • Involve your child in the discipline
    • Reframe a no into a conditional yes
    • Emphasize the positive
    • Creatively approach the situation
    • Teach mindsight tools
  • When it comes to involving child in discipline, remind child that you will be making the final call, but your open to considering their input.
  • Catch your kids behaving well and give them positive affirmation.
  • When telling them to do something focus on the positive:
    • instead of “stop Messing around, we are going to be late for school”, say “I need you to brush your teeth and find your backpack”
    • instead of “no bike until you eat green beans” say “after you eat green beans we get to hop on the bikes”
  • If you didn’t handle a situation like you wanted or said something harsh to your child, it shouldn’t be left alone like nothing happened. The rupture needs to be repaired and discussed ASAP.
  • More practical ideas:
    • If child is being mean to sibling, have child find 3 nice things to do for their sibling before bedtime.
    • If they make a big mess, then they need to clean it up
    • If they ride bike without helmet (if that’s a rule), put the bike away in garage and do a safety check for 2 weeks each time they want to ride it
    • When giving a child their first phone (let’s say age 12): disable the phones internet capabilities, download apps that filter out dangerous content, and talk with them about privacy and security