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Last Updated on February 21, 2018

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

Communication Expert

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Published on July 13, 2018

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

What if you could discover some tools and methods that could improve your relationships? What if by gaining a little knowledge you could understand your relationship dynamics better and give them a boost up?

By learning what secure attachment is and how to restructure your thoughts, you can become more self-aware of your relationship dynamics. After becoming more aware, you can then take a few steps to make them better than ever. That’s something that many of us could benefit from.

When we hear the term secure attachment, our mind typically goes to a relationship. And that’s exactly what it’s about.

In this article I’ll discuss the concept of secure attachments in more detail and how restructuring your thoughts can help you strive towards achieving better relationships.

Relationships are a hugely important part of our lives and whatever we can do to improve them is a good thing for everyone involved.

What is attachment theory?

Let’s do a quick overview of what attachment theory is. This will provide a good foundation for the rest of this article.

The esteemed psychologist John Bowlby first coined the term attachment theory in the late 60’s. Bowlby studied early childhood conditioning extensively and what he found was very interesting.

His research showed that when a very young child has a strong attachment to a caregiver, it provides the child with a sense of security and foundation. On the other hand when there isn’t a secure attachment, the child will expend a lot more developmental energy looking for security and stability.

The child without the secure attachment tends to become more fearful, timid and slow to explore new situations or their environment.

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When a strong attachment is developed in a child, he or she will be inclined to be more adventurous and seek out new experiences because they feel more secure. They know that whoever is watching out for them will be there if needed.

Bowlby’s colleague, Mary Ainsworth, took the theory further. She did extensive studies around infant-parent separations and provided a more formal framework for the differing attachment styles.

How attachment develops

Simply put, attachment is an emotional bond with another person. Attachment doesn’t have to go both ways, it can be one person feeling attached to another without it being reciprocated. Most of the time, it works between two people to one degree or another.

Attachment begins at a very young age. Over the history of time, when children were able to maintain a closer proximity to a caregiver that provided for them, a strong attachment was formed.

The initial thought was that the ability to provide food or nourishment to a child was the primary driver of a strong attachment.

It was then discovered that the primary drivers of attachment proved to be the parent/caregivers responsiveness to the child as well as the ability to nurture that child in a variety of ways. Things such as support, care, sustenance, and protection are all components of nurturing a child.

In essence a child forms a strong attachment when they feel that their caregiver is accessible and attentive and there if they need them; that the parent/caregiver will be there for them. If the child does not feel that the caregiver is there to help them when needed, they experience anxiety.

Different types of attachments

In children, 4 types of attachment styles have been identified. They are as follows:

  • Secure attachment – This is primarily marked by discomfort or distress when separated from caregivers and joy and security when the caregiver is back around the child. Even though the child initially feels agitated when the caregiver is no longer around, they feel confident they will return. The return of the parent or caregiver is met with positive emotions, the child prefers parents to strangers.
  • Ambivalent attachment – These children become very distressed when the parent or caregiver leaves. They feel they can’t rely on their caregiver for support when the need arises. Even though a child with ambivalent attachment may be agitated or confused when reunited with a parent or caregiver, they will cling to them.
  • Avoidant attachment – These kids typically avoid parents or caregivers. When they have a choice of being with the parent or not, they don’t seem to care one way or the other. Research has shown that this may be the result of neglectful caregivers.
  • Disorganized attachment – These children display a mix of disoriented behavior towards their caregiver. They may want them sometimes and other times they don’t. This is sometimes thought to be linked to inconsistent behavior from the parent or caregiver.

What attachments mean to adults

So the big question is how does this affect us in adulthood? Intuitively it makes sense that as a child, if we have someone who will be there when we need them, we feel secure. And on the other end of the spectrum, if we aren’t sure someone’s going to provide what we need when we need it, we may become more anxious and fearful.

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As an adult, we tend to wind up in one of three primary attachment types based on our childhood experiences. These are secure, avoidant, and anxious. Technically, there is a fourth one, anxious-avoidant, but it is quite a bit less common. They are described as follows:

  • Secure – When you have a secure attachment, you are comfortable displaying interest and affection towards another person but you’re also fine being alone and independent. Secure types are less apt to obsess over a relationship gone sour and handle being rejected easier. Secure types also tend to be better than other types with not starting relationships with people that might not be the best partners. They cut off the relationship quicker when they see things in a potential partner they don’t like. Secure attachment people make up the majority of the attachment types.
  • Anxious – Folks who have an anxious attachment style typically need a lot of reassurance from their partners. They have a much harder time being on their own and single than the other styles and fall into bad relationships more often. The anxious style represent about 20% of the population. It’s been shown that if anxious attachment styles learn how to communicate their needs better and learn to date secure partners, they can move towards the secure attachment style.
  • Avoidant – Avoidant attachment style represents approximately 25% of the population as adults. Avoidants many times have the hardest time in a relationship because they have a difficult time finding satisfaction. In general, they are uncomfortable with close relationships and intimacy and are quite independent. They are the lone wolf type person.
  • Anxious-avoidant – The anxious-avoidant style is relatively rare. It is composed of conflicting styles – they want to be close but at the same time push people away. They do things that push the people they are closest to away. Many times there can be a higher risk of depression or other mental health issues.

Here’s where it gets really interesting:

Move towards secure attachment

The good news is that it is possible to move from one style to another. Specifically, it is possible to move towards a more secure attachment style.

Now as you might imagine, this is not an easy or a quick process. Like any type of big change where you are attempting to alter such a deeply ingrained mindset, it takes a strong will to accomplish.

The first step is developing an awareness of your attachment style. The next step is to have the desire and drive to move your attachment style towards the more secure style.

If someone with an anxious or avoidant style has a long term relationship with a secure type, the anxious or avoidant person can slowly get brought up more towards a secure style.

The opposite is also true, they could bring the secure person more towards their attachment style. Therefore, you have to be conscious of your type and if you want to move more towards secure, it takes persistence.

Therapy is an option as well. Anxious types many times need to work on their self-esteem, avoidants on their connection specifically and compassion.

How to restructure your thoughts

Ready for the way to do it? Here we go:

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For the Avoidant Style

As with any type of change on such a deep level, the first step is awareness. Realize you have an avoidant style and be aware of it as you have interactions with your partner(s).

Try to work towards a place of mutual support and giving/taking. Try to lessen your need for complete self-reliance. Allow your partner to do some things that make you a little uncomfortable that you would normally do yourself.

Don’t always focus on the imperfections of your partner. We all have them, remind yourself of that.

Make yourself a list of the qualities that your partner has that you are thankful for.

Look for a secure style partner if at all possible, they would be good for you to be with.

If you have a tendency to end relationships before they go too far, be aware of that and let it develop further.

Get into the habit of accepting and even instigating physical touch. Tell yourself that it’s good for you to have some intimacy. Intimacy can help you feel safe and secure.

And over time you can realize that it’s okay to rely on other people.

For the Anxious Style

For the anxious style, the #1 thing to work on is learning to communicate needs better. This is a huge issue for the anxious style.

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First and foremost if you communicate your needs more clearly, you will have less anxiety, that’s already a big win. This will also allow you to better assess if a potential partner is good for you.

Try to bring your feelings more to the surface and most importantly, share them with your partner. Remember that secure attachments typically communicate pretty well, this is what you are working towards.

For the Anxious-Avoidant Style

The anxious-avoidant is a very small percentage of the attachment styles. Since this type tends to be anxious in the relationship AND more or less a loner, the key here is working hard to be very self-aware of your actions.

Use the parts of striving towards secure attachment from the anxious tips and the avoidant restructuring of your thoughts to consciously work towards being more secure.

When you find yourself pushing someone away, ask why. If you feel worried that your partner is going to leave you, again, ask yourself where this is coming from. Have they shown you any reason to believe this? Many times there is no real evidence. In that case, allow yourself to calm down and try not to obsess over it.

For the Secure Style

Since the goal is to move towards a more secure attachment style, there isn’t much needed here as you might imagine.

Something to be aware of is being in a relationship just because it’s “okay”. Don’t stay if it’s not a good place for you and your partner. If your partner is of an anxious or avoidant attachment style, stay mindful to not start developing characteristics of those styles.

Strive towards Secure Attachment

As we wrap things up, you’ve probably developed a good idea of the benefits of secure attachment. If you don’t currently have a secure attachment style, here are some benefits of restructuring your thoughts more towards this style:

  • Positive self esteem and self image
  • Close and well adjusted relationships
  • Sense of security in self and the world
  • Ability to be independent as well as in relationships
  • Optimistic outlook on life and yourself
  • Strong coping skills and strategies for relationships and life
  • Trust in self and others
  • Close, intimate relationships
  • Strong determination and problem solving skills

If you are an anxious or avoidant style or the combination of anxious-avoidant, it is possible to move towards a secure attachment style.

It takes self-awareness, patience and a strong desire to get close to being secure but it can be done. You will find that putting the effort into it will provide you with more open, honest and satisfying relationships.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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