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How Discipline Makes Children More out of Control

How Discipline Makes Children More out of Control

A 7 year old boy was lost and never found in the woods of Nannae, Hokkaido in May of 2016. The bear infested area was scoured by local authorities, but heart-breakingly, the little boy never turned up.

What was a 7 year old boy doing alone in the forest to begin with? According to his parents, little Yamato Tanooka was left there as a form of “punishment” for throwing stones at cars driving by. Shortly returning after the fact, they realized they had made a grim mistake. Their son was nowhere to be found.[1]

The fate of little Yamato will remain a horrifyingly tragic mystery. But what about his parents? It can be assumed that they had good intentions. They were trying to instill discipline in their son and showed him that there were consequences to his actions.

But they had to learn a difficult lesson: there were even worse consequences to their disciplinary tactics.

How Parental Discipline Goes Rotten

Parents set guidelines and boundaries for their children to ensure their safety, as well as the safety of others.

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Effective disciplinary action will for the most part keep children out of trouble. If they know there will be consequences to their actions, they are less likely to break the rules. But as sentient beings, they are able to think for themselves and will test the boundaries. It’s normal for children to act out and be a bit naughty from time to time.

The older the children get, the more gifted they become in thinking for themselves. As they reach the teenage years, they begin to question the boundaries that were set before them. At this point they’ve developed their own sense of right and wrong and begin to reject rules that they think are unfair or unnecessary.

As the growing children begins to rebel, parents sometimes feel that they need to tighten the reigns in order to regain control. But all this really does is cause a rift between the children and their parents.

The Sequel of Strict Parenting

At the early stage, children are too young to make the distinction between right and wrong, so they need that discipline to protect them.

For example: You may put your child in “time out” because they tried to turn on the stove. You’re not trying to crush their ambition to cook or be cruel, you just don’t want them to burn themselves.

But as children grow up, they are able to start making that distinction for themselves. Although the child is growing and changing, parents keep their disciplinary tactics the same. Some children will push back because they start to think independently. Other children will remain submissive, but only because they are afraid of being punished.

Good Children Gone Bad

For those who refuse to accept their parents tyrannical influence, there are one of two routes they will take.

Some will become more sneaky. They will improve their deceitful lying skills to avoid conflict with their parents and still follow their own rules. These children can grow up to be very manipulative and dishonest.

The other outcome is an outwardly rebellious child. They refuse to accept their parents’ discipline, so they act out. Believing that their parents still view them as children, they will try to prove them wrong by partaking in adult activities like staying out with friends, having sex, partying, or worse still they may be influenced by bad people and get addicted to bad things like drugs and alcohol. The more the children act out, the stricter the parents become in order to regain control. It’s a vicious, toxic cycle that doesn’t benefit anyone involved.

Disciplined Children Gone Narrow-minded

The children who remain submissive will ultimately suffer too. Although they always manage to appease their parents, their constant willingness to please can be extremely detrimental to their growth. People who mindlessly follow instructions lack critical thinking skills and struggle to analyze what would be best for them.

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These children only know how to follow rules and cannot function without some form of direction. They’ll never rise up into leadership roles because they just don’t possess the skills. In a sense, parents who practice strict disciplinary action are unintentionally setting up their children for failure in the future.

How to Turn Things Around

If parents feel like losing control of their children no matter how hard they try, maybe it’s time to back off a bit. Parents should realize that their once tiny, naïve child is becoming a blinking, thinking adult; and they deserve recognition for this. The harder parents push, the farther they will flee. The only way to bring the children back to the parents is by proving that they don’t just view them as a child. They view them as a human being.

Parents need to be clear about the reasons behind their rules. “Because I said so” just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Speak to the children as equals. Not only will this strengthen the bond between parents and children, but it will also teach the children the concept of respect. As the children grow and change, so should the parenting style.

Rules and punishments don’t make good communication.

No matter how hard parents try, their children will make mistakes. They are only human. Parents need to understand this concept as the child dishes out their punishment.

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Explain to the children why they are being punished. Talk to them calmly. Parents should never slam the children with unreasonable consequences because they are angry. The children can see right through it and ultimately respect their parents less.

Give the children the opportunity to make choices. To make mistakes. They will choose the right path simply because they were given the freedom to choose.

Discipline Is the Last Resort, Always

Don’t rely solely on punishment to develop a child into a well rounded individual. They have a voice, allow them to use it. If they talk back, listen. Explain your reasons to them, and allow them to explain theirs. When you reach a common ground, they will be more likely to stand with you.

Featured photo credit: Pexel via pexels.com

Reference

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Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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