Allow Your Child to Surrender with Dignity

Use this simple method to correct your child and get your child to listen to you and obey your instructions. This is a positive discipline technique.

Parent correcting child

A very simple and yet powerful discipline tool is to allow your child to surrender with dignity.

This essentially means you do not belittle your child when correcting your child. You basically correct, drop it, and move on.

Why You Want to Let Your Child Surrender with Dignity

I have a story to help you understand the concept and why it is powerful. Let’s reach into our inner child and imagine something.

Imagine you have a job (if you do have a job, you can make this game easier and just imaging your job).

Now let’s say your boss catches you doing something you aren’t supposed to do. You may have broken the rule intentionally or you may have done so unintentionally. Motive is irrelevant to this game.

Your boss stares you down to make sure you comply or lectures you until you finally move to make fix the problem.

How does that make you feel? How do you feel toward your boss? How much do you really want to follow the rules in the future?

Now imagine how your child feels when you correct him or her and do the same thing your “boss” just did to you.

How do you think your child feels?

When you give your child, of any age, instruction or redirection, allow him to surrender with dignity.

Understanding What it Means to Surrender with Dignity

What does that mean?

That means that when you give you correct your child, you don’t hover over him to make sure he does it.

For example, you tell him to pick up his toys. You don’t then stand there and stare him down while he does so.

You go off and do your own thing.

Of course, you check on him. Once he has made progress, you thank him for what he has done thus far.

The same can be done with a baby. Say your baby is touching something he shouldn’t but isn’t dangerous. You tell him that is a no and then turn to do something else.

Allow your child the chance to stop the behavior.

Young babies (at least mine) seem very interested in doing a certain behavior over and over to see if what was no yesterday is still a no today.

Toddlers are often the same way, but they aren’t as cute about it as a baby is. If I turn away from it, the child usually gives it up and move on to some other activity.

Of course, if I turn away and the child continues anyway, then I continue on with the correction.

Discipline tip: allow your child to surrender with dignity

You Do Not Always Need to Ignore the Behavior

Ignoring is a simple way to use this discipline concept, but it isn’t the only way.

There are other ways to allow your child to surrender with dignity.

You tell him that is a no, then suggest something else for him to do. Then he can move on to the new activity as though the old one was of no interest anyway.

If you have a baby, it is often a good idea to tell him that is a no and then simply remove him from that activity. You will especially want to physically remove the child if he is in a potentially dangerous situation.

Another way to allow a child to surrender with dignity is to tell him what he can do instead.

When Brayden tried out spitting at the table, I told him he could not spit at the table but he could spit in the tub or outside. That was always good enough for him, and he actually never tried spitting in either of those places. But knowing he could seemed to be enough for him to give it up at the table.

There are many things toddlers seem to do in order to try to be independent. Take, for example, your toddler trying to work the surround sound system himself.

You tell him that is a no and he is not allowed to touch those items. You tell him you know he is trying to take care of it himself, but if he needs something changed, he needs to ask a parent for help.

Avoid Lecturing

Allowing your child to surrender with dignity also means you don’t lecture him unnecessarily about the behavior once he has stopped it.

Yes, there are times you will need to discuss the behavior assuming your child is old enough to benefit from such a conversation, but a lecture is not necessary following each action.

The discussion will usually prove more beneficial to all if done when all parties are calm.

>>>Read: Training in Times of Non-Conflict

You Can’t Always Use This Method

Sometimes you do need to use your “mommy glare.”

Sometimes you need to supervise your instructions and make sure they are carried out.

Sometimes you simply can’t allow your child to surrender with complete dignity.

But do it as much as possible.

When you do need to interfere without allowing dignity, you can do your best to allow as much dignity as possible with the situation. Treat your child with respect and you will see wonderful results. Your child doesn’t want to be stared down any more than you want to.

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This post originally appeared on this blog April 2008

12 thoughts on “Allow Your Child to Surrender with Dignity”

  1. Ok, my 6 mo. old is totally throwing me off. She has been pooping like 4-5 times a day, and EVERY time it goes up her back, out of the side, etc. I am so sick of it!! I don’t think it is diarrhea (how can you tell w/ babies-it is all soft and mushy..). Plus, she hasn’t been eating like she normally does. Normally she eats 5oz. and then rice cereal, or if it is lunch time she eats her vegie’s. Now I pushed her to eat 3 oz. and I forcefed her like 3 bites. Any suggestions??! I called the ped. and they said as long as she has wet diapers, and isn’t vomiting or having diarehhea then they can’t do anything..

  2. It is sounding like she is coming out of a growth spurt. As far as the poop goes, there really isn’t anything you can do about it. You could try a bigger diaper size to see if that might hold it in, but that might also make it come out more.

  3. Help! I really need advice with my 11 month old in regards to eating. She was once a very good eater, but lately (over the past month) she has started refusing to eat. When she sees that I have a bowl of food, she starts crying & shaking her head. I used to be able to hold her hands & force her to eat (once she tried it & realized she liked it), but now she has learned how to zip her lips & keep food from entering. I’ve let it slide this week because I think she’s teething. But tonight after I tried to feed her with several different options, she refused (I even try to let her feed herself & she just threw it on the floor). I’ve tried giving her all of her once favorite meals, but she refuses. Tonight I finally gave up, gave her a bath & then a bottle before bed. She cried when the bottle ran out, so I knew she was still hungry. I gave her a couple of cheerios & she ate them right away (she’s not normally a big cheerio fan). Then I tried again with the food & it was the same thing all over again. What do I do? I feel like I have let her starve this week. I don’t know what happened to my happy eater.

  4. Brooke,Since she seems to still be hungry, my next guess would be that she is ready for a more “grown-up” meal, especially with her eating the cheerios. My daughter just turned 12 months, and increasingly refuses to eat “baby” food. She wants her food in the same form we eat it (though I cut it up into tiny pieces). Try that and see how it goes.Also be aware that at 12 months their appetite decreases significantly. You have to let them set the pace for how much they eat; however, it sounds like your girl is still hungry.

  5. Thank you for your post on surrendering with dignity. I read that in my Babywise II book, and was struggling with the technicality of how to implement it with my baby girl. I understand the principles from Babywise pretty well, but because I’m a first time mom, sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how the principles play out. Your blog is such a blessing! So thank you! Had one random question. How much play and interaction do I need to do with my daughter. We have a lot of interaction throughout the day. Eating, changing diapers, walking, doing errands together, etc. But when it comes to play, I’m always unsure about how much play interaction she needs with me? She is an only child so far, and she does have playpen time, but I’m always afraid that I”m either spending too much time playing with her, or not enough. What’s a good gauge of how much interaction she needs from me, and how much self-entertaining or interact-with-others time she needs? Thanks!Jaclyn

  6. You are welcome Jaclyn!You pose an interesting question. If you find she is needing attention and entertainment every moment of the day, you are likely spending too much time with her. You have all of your normal things you do with her each day. I would be sure you do something special and one on one with her each day also where it is something just fun for her. Reading books, playing with toys, etc. Give it some good quality time. If you husband can do that also, that would be great. That quality time where your only “task” is enjoying her is good for both of you. You will have to feel it out. I still have to evaluate that with my son.

  7. Hi! Thanks so much for your blog, I really appreciate it! I’m not sure if this is the appropriate place for this question or not…I have a 6 month old. We started feeding her cereal about 2 weeks ago. She seemed to be doing fine but now all of a sudden she has started crying hard the moment I put her in the high chair. She did this yesterday and refused to eat. Today I waited a little longer and got her to stop crying then tried feeding her. She ate two bites and then started to refuse every bite. She started crying very hard. I tried to wait until she stopped crying to do anything, because I am afraid that if I give in when she is crying that I am teaching her that all she has to do is cry and she will get what she wants…but she just cried harder and harder until she was almost choking. I eventually took her out of the high chair. I don’t want this to continue, but I don’t know what to do…any suggestions?

  8. Hi! I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your blog! It is wonderful to see how principles are actually implemented! I’m not sure if this is the appropriate place to post this but..I have an almost 5 1/2 month old. I’ve been exclusively breastfeeding until I introduced solids 2 weeks ago. I nurse him first then offer solids. He used to eat about 8 minutes on each side, but now he gets so distracted that he’ll only eat about 2-3 minutes on each side. I’ve tried nursing him in a quiet room with the lights dim (etc), but still he gets distracted! If I can get him to focus, he’ll actually nurse like he used to, but the problem is getting him to focus! I just recently tried pumping and giving him the milk in a bottle, which worked really far. Should I just resolve to pumping and giving him the bottle or just keep trying to get him to nurse? (He’s always eaten VERY well…20 lbs at 4 months old…) I’m at my wits end from trying everything I can think of. Any help would be greatly appreciated! (FYI, I know he is hungry because he’ll eat the solids without complaint)

  9. I forgot to add that my son is on a 4 hour schedule (he eats consistently at 8 am, 12, 4, 8 pm, and just before he goes to bed). Thanks again!

  10. Amy,You might consider giving solids a break for a few days or else starting other foods to see if she likes those any better. Right now is a teaching time for solids and not a time she is in absolute need of them yet. Take things slowly as she needs. I would try to figure out what is making her cry and fix that.

  11. Love your blog! I have a question about teaching "no". My baby boy has be completely and totally enthralled with our entertainment center (which does not have doors on it so he can touch the dvd player, etc) since about 7 months. He is now twelve months. I have tried everything to get him to stop touching it (everything in the babywise books that is). He keeps touching it, especially when I'm not in the room. If I come in and tell him "no" he cries and throws a little tantrum so he definitely knows what "no" means. He obeys with "no" and "don't touch" with most other things like not opening kitchen cupboards and not touching plugs but just seems that he can't help himself with the electronics. His dad is a mechanical engineer so maybe he is also inclined this way. However, I don't know how to view this. Should I just get a different entertainment center with doors so he can't touch or should I keep at it ? Your opinion would be appreciated. Thanks!


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