How to raise kids using the Four Agreements?
Upon reading about domestication. I had this awful awareness that I will be placing these walls around my own children’s thought by using positive and negative reinforcement . I was wondering if you had any recommendations how to avoid these patterns or if there are any books out there to help .
Thank you in advance……. Concerned Parent
This is a question I hear a lot and it often comes from a concerned parent becoming more aware of themselves, and how their actions impact their child’s emotions and beliefs that will be with them a long time. First let’s explain the term “domestication,” which Miguel uses in his book. It means a system of punishments and rewards used to modify other people’s behavior. We reward kids with praise, dessert, hugs, and attention. We punish with isolation in their room, time out, scoldings, anger, and criticism. As we become more aware as human beings we realize that some of what we say and do to children may affect them emotionally well into their adult lives. That kind of realization makes us much more vigilant in how we use the power of our word and emotions.
There is much more to this issue of applying the tools of the Four Agreements to your relationships, so this is only a short overview.
First, the truth is that you have to domesticate your children. It is best if children learn about the world of punishments and rewards of the world from people who love them. If they don’t learn of the world of punishments and rewards from you, then the world will teach them those experiences. If they don’t follow some basic rules,,,, then the police will eventually catch up with the. Case in point,,, Paris Hilton.
Second. it is a question of how you domesticate them that makes a great difference. A child can still learn about punishments and rewards in an environment of kindness, acceptance, and love.
Third: The best way for the child to avoid developing deep sabotaging fearful beliefs is for the parent to live happily, impeccably, and without emotional drama. A child is more likely to model what is lived around him or her.
Domestication in a loving and aware way is to learn about consequences. Teach children about consequences,,, and to do that you have to provide consequences, and let them experience consequences. Some pleasant,,, some unpleasant. If they don’t learn to do laundry, then eventually they don’t have any clean clothes to wear. Expecting their parents to do everything for them is not learning to take care of themselves and is not learning about real life.
Consequences can not be avoided. They are a real part of life. Yet this has to be balanced with protecting them. A five year old doesn’t need to learn about crossing the street by themselves through trial and error of consequences.
Consequences is not the same as punishment. If you yell at me, then I don’t respond to you or talk to you. That is a consequence of yelling at me or treating me with anger. I do not engage. If I yell back at you,,, that is a punishment of anger I am trying to inflict emotional poison on you. If you have awareness,,, you can choose if you will punish or if you refrain. If a parent doesn’t have awareness and personal power, then they are more likely to just react and punishment happens without choice. Then later,,, you punish your self for how you over reacted. So to help you parent, you need to develop your own awareness and mastery. If you are judgmental of people and get angry a lot then a child will learn that to be normal behavior, even if you tell them, not to.
Punishment is not the same as making it personal. This is an awareness between what a person does, and what a person is. A good person can fail, make a mistake, have an emotional reaction, and it doesn’t mean they are a bad person, failure, or unloved. If you correct a child, perhaps they don’t like what you did,,, but can still love you. In this regard it is as important what emotions you express with your words, as the words themselves.
Make a distinction between what your children do, and what they are. This is something that you will need to practice in normal times so that when stressful emotional times happen it will remain part of your awareness and interaction with them. They are people you love, and are beautiful, even when their actions and behaviors might not always be aligned with what you want for them. You can provide them consequences for their actions while you love them. Hopefully in this way they will learn to be wise in their choices, and feel good about themselves no matter the outcome.
For more on honing your skills at communication, emotions, and eliminating your own emotional reactions, I suggest the Self Mastery course and Relationship Course on my other site. PathwayToHappiness.com