Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dissonance Must Be Displaced

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When you live with people, you are bound to have some conflict from time to time. It is hard to be around people that much and not get annoyed with them. I mean, take a husband and wife. They love each other so much they pledge time and even eternity to each other. They can't imagine ever disliking anything about the other person, and yet find themselves some short time later feeling quite angry about something as small as a tube of toothpaste. 

The family setup is a refiners fire for learning to love others, look past their faults, and work through conflict. That conflict happens. 

But just because it arises doesn't mean we need to feed it. We do not need to stroke that little pet annoyance and nurture it to grow. 

This should be applied to your discipline methods in the home. Your children absolutely will do things they should not do. They will break rules. They will bicker with each other. They will "forget" instructions. They will drag their feet. They will get distracted. Sometimes they will even do things with the sole intention of making you mad.

All of these things bring dissonance into the home. Which brings me to this lovely quote:

"...dissonance cannot be corrected by criticism. Dissonance in the home is like darkness in a room. It does little good to scold the darkness. We must displace the darkness by introducing light." Wilford W. Andersen.

I love that thought. Displace the dissonance. Do not sit and lecture your child about the offense committed. Lecturing and scolding only breed more darkness and dissonance. Even if your child feels bad about the act, the lecturing will only make your child feel darker and worse. Instead, displace it with light. 

What might that look like?
  • Calmly and lovingly talk to your child about what she has done. Explain why it isn't okay and what she could have done instead. 
  • Wrap your arm around your child and express love for your child. Explain that you want what is best for your child and that it is your job to help her become the best person she can be. 
  • Ask your child if she thinks her choices were the right ones to make and if something should have been done differently. Brainstorm alternate reactions with her--as a team. 
  • Give her ideas of what she could be doing instead of what she shouldn't be doing. 
  • Keep your voice calm and loving when correcting your child.
I hope that gives you some ideas for how you can displace the dissonance with some light. 

With that said, please do not beat yourself up when you make a mistake and try to fight darkness with a lecture. At times, your temper will get away from you. At times, you will frankly go about things all wrong.

Keep trying.

Another caveat, reacting perfectly every time will not mean that your children will be perfect day in and day out. It will not mean that there will never be a difficulty or problem in your family dynamics again. That is life.

But keep trying. 

Let me finish with a recent example. I found one daughter one day doing something she should not be doing. I asked her to come with me to my room so we could talk about it privately. I had her sit down next to me and put my arm around here. I asked her why she was doing what she was doing. She explained her reasoning. I explained that what she was doing was not okay and explained the why behind it. We had a nice talk. 

I then found her doing it again a few days later. We again talked and I reminded her that she should not be doing that. I suggested she pray for help to make the right choices. 

My husband then spoke with her about it and reiterated what we had talked about. He was very kind and patient with her. They talked about things she could do instead in the future. 

Since then, she runs to me and proudly tells me when she has avoided doing the thing she shouldn't be. She tells me what she did instead. She is so proud of herself for making right decisions. 

Now, I could have yelled at her instead. I could have lectured her. And she could have responded by still trying to do it but be more sneaky about it in the future. Instead, we are on a team together. She knows her parents are on her side and are helping her be the best her she can be. She knows our rules are to help her achieve that. She will trust us with other problems that face her in the future. 

Do your best to fight darkness with light. Displace the dissonance. Keep trying. 

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