Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How to be a WINNER (the alternative to discipline)

I've been writing about Dr. Shefali Tsabary's book, Out of Control: Why Disciplining Your Child Doesn't Work and What Will, which introduces a dramatically new concept for most parents: we don't have to discipline our children.

We've talked about the fact that discipline might not be working, what discipline is and what we believe it is for, and that many of us experience parental tantrums that we excuse as discipline. All of that is great, and I believe it's necessary to read through all those sections of the book to really get an understanding of why discipline might not be the solution we think it is. But, I know that many of you are asking, "Well if I don't discipline, what do I do?" And this final post in the series will help answer that question.
"We need to connect with our children instead of imagining we constantly need to correct them. All children yearn for connection - not correction. They want nothing more than to feel loved for who they truly are in their authentic self. Not being appreciated for who they are is the root of all negative behavior, psychological problems, and social dysfunction, including criminality." - Dr. Shefali Tsabary
In order to have "better" kids, we need to be better parents. And to be better parents, we need to be better people. We need to be WINNER's.

The acronym "WINNER" stands for:

W - witness
I - investigate
N - neutrality
N - negotiate
E - empathize
R  - resolve

There is not a perfect solution for every disruptive behavior, but there is a better way of reacting to the disruption. Dr. Tsabary's suggestion is a method of mindful-parenting. By becoming more aware of our own reactions to, expectations of, and illusions about our children, we can step out of our own heads and into the present moment. Dr. Tsabary shows us how to observe what is going on, without harsh judgement or reaction. She will show us how to communicate and connect with our children to figure out the underlying reasons for their behavior; how to keep our own emotions from railroading our children with emotional baggage; how to involve our children in being part of the solution, rather than dictating what must happen; how to approach our children with an understanding that they are exactly where they need to be; and how to commit to seeing our children through the tough times so they are better able to handle difficult situations on their own as adults.

Dr. Tsabary even offers more real-life tips on staying calm in the midst of conflict, and ideas for positive reinforcement of the behavior you want to see. I would love to give all of those away, but that wouldn't be fair to Dr. Tsabary and all the hard work she's put into this fabulous book. I have highlighted more pages than I can count, and will be referencing this book for years to come.

If you want to elevate the way you parent, if you want to be conscious in your parenting - and less reactive - you should buy this book. Our children are going to leave a mark on this world - for better or worse - and parenting to the best of our ability is one of the most noble (if not THE most noble) jobs on the planet.
"Our children deserve to be nurtured by parents who are journeying toward wholeness and discovering their worth, for it's from this that their own wholeness and sense of worth will be magnified. This is their right - and our calling in the sacred task of parenting." - Dr. Tsabary


  1. I'm reading a different parenting book (darn kindle, I don't remember the name) that echos a lot of this! It talks about first determining if your child needs something, food, rest, love, positive attention, before going for discipline (as well as how to discipline properly instead of punishing). I've found myself frustrated with Ben's behavior only to realize he hadn't gotten any focused attention all day. Then I stop what I'm doing and ask if he wants to play cars or read books (2 of his favorites) and about 20 minutes later, all is right in his world.

    1. Let me know what book it is when you have a minute. I feel like my youngest's loud, silly, and quite frankly... annoying behavior is at times simply her cry for more attention.

    2. "How to Really Love your Child" by D. Ross Campbell, M.D. I'm 86% through (been working on it slowly, digesting along the way) and really enjoy the perspective.

  2. I'm adding both books to my to-read list, ladies. Thank you for your insights.