Updated: Mar 31
by Dawn L. Billings, founder of RelationshipHelp.com
In order to insure that we are disciplining our children out of our love and dedication to them, we need to have a way to review or evaluate our discipline. I have created a simple acronym to help YOU, it is called: FIRST things F.I.R.S.T. As parents we have a responsibility to grow and improve as much as we expect our children to grow and improve. Even though we are parents, we are not perfect and we make mistakes and behave in ways that we, upon reflection, are not our proudest moments. Many of those instances we feel ashamed or sorry about are times we lost control of our emotions around parenting. Parenting can be an infuriating, confusing, overwhelming and challenging experience.
Raising my sons, has caused me to shed buckets of tears—many from joy and delight, and others from sheer frustration and disappointment. That is why I created a parenting review system that enables parents to reflect upon, and evaluate, their disciplinary actions, (or in some cases REactions--Raw Emotion actions™).
What was your emotional state and attitude at the time of the interaction? This is always the first question of our F.I.R.S.T. Things First Parenting Review™. Too often parents discipline out of their feelings, instead of their predetermined plan for parenting. Parenting is emotional. We love our children so much; therefore when they are behaving inappropriately or badly, we are more vulnerable to feeling frustrated, confused, angry, disappointed and overwhelmed. That is why you want to reflect and evaluate how you were feeling when you disciplined your child.
Your goal should be to develop a parenting plan that includes taking time to calm down before you discipline your child. Most parents do not have a parenting plan and that is whyThe Early Childhood Capables GREATT Learning System™ guides you every step of the way through some of your most important parenting decisions. You can use The Capables I AM CALM™ stress reducing exercise we developed for your children. This system works beautifully at any age.
What outcome did you intend? As parents we need to have a clear idea about what we want as an outcome from every encounter with our children. When we truly understand that the goal of every conversation, every interaction, every opportunity to discipline our children; needs to strengthen, build, educate, mold, encourage, and inspire them to express the greatness within them, it helps to determine the kind of behaviors we allow ourselves to have.
Did you ACT or React™? There is a huge difference between choosing an action, and reacting to a situation. Choosing an action is a conscious, careful decision, while reacting can happen on automatic pilot. Many times when we have reacted in a situation we are embarrassed and realize upon reflection that we would have done things differently if we had the chance. It is important as parents to reflect on and evaluate where we react in our lives and attempt to gain some understanding as to what the stimulus, thought or feeling was that triggered our reaction. Once we understand our trigger points, we are better equipped to alter the way we react to them.
What did you say and how did you say it? Are you proud of what you said? Would you say the same things again? Did you scream, raise your voice, threaten, complain, whine, beg, nag, criticize or attempt to argue? If you did, you gave away a great deal of your power as a parent. Successful verbal direction can help your child accomplish what you want them to do. For example instead of saying, “Don’t spill your drink,” say some thing like, “Hold your cup carefully and walk slowly so that you can keep every drop in your cup.” Create the image in their minds of what you want to happen, instead of creating the image of what you don’t want to happen.
Of course it is important to consider what we say, but it is equally important to decide what we will not say as well. We do not have to argue with our children just because they want to argue. My dear friend and colleague Jim Fay, co-founder of the legendary Love and Logic Institute recommends that we never argue with our children. He teaches us to say, “I love you too much to argue.” That was one of my favorite responses when my boys wanted to argue with me. I was just sad that I did not have the Capables™ when my sons were growing up. Parenting would have been so much easier.
What were you thinking? Were you aware of your thoughts? Our thoughts are usually a direct result of our feelings, unless we have trained ourselves to allow our chosen thoughts to direct our feelings.
Use the “F.I.R.S.T. things First tool as a reference especially when you feel angry, frustrated or challenged. Go through each of the steps in your head and reflect on how you are feeling and thinking.
Remember this exercise is to help you avoid responding to your child in a way that moves you in the opposite direction of creating a solid bond of trust and collaboration with your child. Think of parenting as a team sport. It requires both you and your child collaborating to win at the game of growing up GREATT™.
“Wicked men obey out of fear; good men, out of love." Aristotle
In 2008 Dawn was selected by Oprah Magazine and The White House project as one of 80 emerging women leaders in the nation.
and she is executive director of the luxury couple's healing resort, RelatoionshipHelpResort.com in Arizona. Dawn is the author and architect of the Primary Colors Personality Test and Insight Tools, founder of OverJOYed Life and creator of the Happiness Curriculum.