The Case of the Butter

As a kid, I grew up on Frosted Flakes cereal. For breakfast, I poured myself a bowl, added milk, and then put a scoop of sugar on top. Yum.

But as an adult, I found myself less interested in eating those kinds of foods. So about two years ago, I hired a nutritionist to take me grocery shopping.

At my HEB store in Austin (the one at Mopac and Parmer), she showed me where to find the nutritious food I was looking for. In some cases, it was on the shelf right next to the old foods I used to buy, I just hadn’t seen them yet.

So I bought a few new items and brought them home. One thing I brought home was butter from grass-fed cows. It tasted so good to me, like soft cheese. I craved it. But my husband and kids thought the grass-fed butter was gross. So I put it on a plate next to our old butter.

And for the last TWO YEARS, I’ve been buying both kinds. The regular old butter and the new grass-fed butter. Over time, my family got curious and tasted the new butter more and more. Every once and awhile, I checked with them to see if they were ready for me to stop buying the old kind of butter. They kept saying, “No, not yet,” until one day they were ready. That was a month ago. So I stopped buying the old kind. Now I only buy the new kind, the more nutritious grass-fed butter, and it’s the only one we’re eating as a family.

If one day they ask me to buy the old butter again, I will, with ease.

Here’s the lesson from the butter. It’s the key to creating a shift in your family: Take the pressure off them to change. The ONLY PERSON you can change is yourself. So if you decide to improve your nutrition, do it, but don’t force it on them. Forcing it, “shoulding” them, puts you in a power struggle. Yuck.

Likewise, if you decide to improve your relationships, like if you want to stop yelling, tell your family about it, but don’t force them to change immediately too. Having one big change at a time is enough. Your change will have ripple effects over time. Smile to yourself when you notice the effects of your work. That’s your magic.

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Fear & Punishment Vs. Love & Learning

Today’s topic: The old and new styles of discipline.

Many of us were raised in the old style of discipline. It was largely based in fear and punishment. Here are some characteristics:

1. The adults have authority based in fear because the kids are afraid of getting in trouble.
2. When the kids get in trouble, it’s unpredictable, and the punishment often takes away something that is precious to the kids.
3. Even if rewards are involved, the discipline is based in fear because the kids are afraid they might not get the reward.
4. Kids and adults struggle for power.  If/then is often used in the struggle: “If you do this, then you’ll get in trouble. If you do this, then you’ll get a reward.”

Here’s an example: The kids fight. A vase is broken. The adult yells and tells the children to go to their rooms and that they can’t go to their friend’s birthday party. The adult is furious about the vase and never forgives the children. The kids are furious and never forgive the adult for missing the birthday party. The empty shelf where the vase once was reminds them all of the hurt.

Here’s the new kind of discipline. It’s based in love and learning (this is what I teach):

1. Self-regulation (calming techniques) are taught and used so the family feels safe.
2. Feelings are talked about so the family feels loved.
3. Values (revealed by the feelings) are regularly discussed and guide decision-making.
4. Kids and adults work together to support each other in problem-solving and reconciliation when needed. Instead of a struggle for power, the family works together so everyone “wins.”

Here’s an example: The kids fight. A vase is broken. A calm adult helps the children talk about their feelings. The adult may also talk about their feelings (without blaming the kids). Values are discussed, like this:

“In our family, we value self-regulation and problem-solving.”
“We value our hearts — our feelings teach us our values — that’s our conscience.”
“We value our bodies — our bodies are made to love and be loved.”
“We value our house and the things in it, so we try to take good care of our things.”
“We have individual values — what are yours?”

So then, based on their values, the adult works with the kids to reconcile their relationship with each other. They talk about how they would like to handle the situation differently next time (to use the steps above during conflict). They work together to clean up the broken vase, and they pick a plate from a cabinet to go on the shelf in its place. They celebrate and admire the placement of the plate. The plate reminds them of how they work together as a family. Everyone feels safe, loved, and respected.

What do you think? How were you raised? Does any of this sound familiar?

The new kind of discipline does not come naturally. It takes a mentor. I mentor you, and you mentor your kids.

To schedule a free 30-minute call with me, use the Contact page on the website so I can text you.

Share this with someone who’s ready, who’s looking for a different way to raise their kids.