Raising children with Positive Discipline, consensualocracy.
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2009-04-04
Positive discipline: kindness, respect, firmness, encouragement and family closeness following the principles of ahimsa. Raise and develop children to have self-esteem, self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation, problem solving skills. Calm intelligent communication. Consensualocracy: Intelligent cooperation based on a shared vision transcending indivdiual ideas.
Good morning. I'm ready to head off to Mauritius in about a week. One of our focuses there is on "Positive Discipline." One reason, Gurudeva stressed it more in Mauritius than in other countries. To help out the, in the January issue, you'll recall, of Hinduism Today, we put in the center section was on "Positive Discipline." It was called "Parenting with Love" because positive discipline is a word that doesn't make sense unless you know what it is but parenting with love makes sense to anyone and we had it translated into French. And they're reprinting it in Mauritius so we can hand it out there for free. We have some, get thousands of people coming to the spiritual park there. Hard to imagine, you're going to have to imagine, imagine if we had five thousand people out on San Marga, would seem like a lot. That's what they had they had five thousand people at the last gathering. That's probably the largest non-festival gathering in Mauritius, I think, at the spiritual park.
So, they're hoping to start up some classes with some of the people coming to the spiritual park. So I was developing a talk for the satsangs when we go there. It's very hard for everybody to get up to the spiritual park. It's a long way from the south and even from the middle of the country it can take quite a while to get there. So what we do is we go around and have a satsang in each part of the country, four or five different satsangs in various parts so each of the members and enrolled students go to one of the satsangs that's closest to them. So, I was thinking of what I have to say to promote Positive discipline and this is what I have so far.
Positive discipline is a system of parenting that is based on kindness, respect, firmness, encouragement and family closeness. It follows the principles of ahimsa -- nonviolence and non hurtfulness, physically, mentally or emotionally. In this system, misbehavior is disciplined not through corporal punishment but through calm, intelligent communication that utilizes a number of different strategies depending on the situation. Raising children with positive discipline helps them develop self-esteem, self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation and problem solving skills.
So that's my summary, trying to get all the basic ideas in one paragraph. So, when I was writing this on the right side of my desk I have the weekly calendar of Gurudeva and I had looked at it and there were two quotes right on the page that fit into this topic quite nicely. Gurudeva says:
"A home is a place that's so magnetic that it's difficult to leave. (What a wonderful concept.) In a home there is love, kindness, sharing and appreciation, and the inhabitants help one another. It's a place of selflessness and togetherness, where everybody has time for everybody else."
And the second quote:
"Stop the war in the home. Use positive discipline. Praise your children. Discover the good things that they do and tell them how well they have done. Celebrate their Divinity. Enjoy them and enjoy good times with them."
Aren't those good quotes? Really on the mark.
So there's fourteen strategies that we listed. In our typical way we like to list things and number them. That's our style whereas, Jane Nelson just keeps going, you know. You don't know how many strategies there are because she doesn't number them. So we numbered fourteen strategies in our Insight section. And one of them is called: "Cool Off Before Solving a Problem." And the first idea that section presents is that children don't respond well to talking about a problem if they're upset. They just can't handle the situation with younger children; if they're upset, they're upset. And you have to wait until that time passes and one of the other sections talks about positive time out until they've cooled down. And, but the basic idea is to wait until the child is calm and then, then talk to the child about the behavior that was inappropriate.
It also mentions that the parents sometimes also become upset so they also need a cooling down period, can happen on both sides. That's why I, in my write-up I said: "Calm, intelligent communication." Meaning, both parties have cooled down. Otherwise, it doesn't work right. You can't use positive discipline if you're not calm. You don't have the right approach.
Well my comment is: When the parent refrains from correcting behavior until he or she has calmed down, it is definitely easier to avoid what Gurudeva forbids in Sutra 138 which is using harsh or angry words.
So that's what we want to avoid. It's just so easy when we're upset to say something that's harsh, right? And that is not positive discipline. So we have to calm down first. As all of you who are parents know, children learn more from what their parents do than by what their parents say you should do. Children follow the example of the adults more than what the adults say is the proper example. Therefore, for children to learn the habit of cooling off before discussing a problem, ideally the parents follow the same principle and don't try to solve disagreements between themselves if they have become emotionally upset.
Quite often discussions between adults start off calm but end up getting emotional after a short while. One of the principles of "Positive Discipline" with some modification can help prevent this from happening. The principle is called Four Steps for Winning Cooperation. It reads: "Children feel encouraged when they think you understand their point of view. Once they feel understood, they are more willing to listen and to work on a solution to the problem. Using the following Four Steps for Winning Cooperation with children is a great way to create a connection before seeking to solve a behavioral problem."
Four Steps for Winning Cooperation are:
1. Express understanding for the child's feelings. Be sure to check with him to see if you are right.
2. Show empathy without condoning his behavior. A nice touch here is to share times when you have felt or acted similarly.
3. Share your feelings and perceptions.
4. Invite the child to focus on a solution. Ask if he has any ideas on what to do in the future to avoid the problem. If he doesn't, offer some suggestions and seek his agreement.
Using this type of approach, the following list of guidelines for adults was written up for handling a disagreement which sets a good example for the children.
As Gurudeva did when quite often newlyweds ask for advice. "What advice do you have?"
So, I always give Gurudeva's advice about resolving disagreements, resolving them before you go to sleep. Something like to expect there not to be disagreements is unrealistic. But what we can do is handle them in a professional polite way and resolve them. So this is an example of that.
1. Keep the issue as narrow as possible.
In other words we don't want to bring up everything you did of a similar nature over the last twenty years. That's no fair. Keep it narrow.
2. Acknowledge the other's point of view, "I understand"
That's right from the encouragement children point. 3. Sympathize with their concerns.
Really respect the other's point of view. Even if you seriously disagree with it to them it makes sense and you need to respect it and show sympathy for it.
4. Present your point of view with the most compelling logic.
In other words you don't want to be right just cause you're speaking loudly. You know you need, need to present it in a compelling way.
5. Keep the discussion impersonal, never challenge or criticize the other person.?
That's very important. You don't want to challenge the person. Even with dealing with children you're not challenging the person. You're not correcting the person, you're correcting the behavior. My phrase is: "What you did was really stupid but you're a smart child and you certainly won't do that again. You know, you're distinguishing between the behavior and the person. The person was smart but the behavior wasn't. But they're so smart, they won't even do it twice.
6. Be open to compromise. That's certainly an important point. Between adults is, you have two points of view and if you just cling to them could go on forever. Have to be open to finding a compromise. And the cooling off which is what we were talking about before:
7. If the discussion becomes emotional, stop for a while and resume after a cooling off period.?
So that, we could start out very calm and after about ten minutes emotions comes in. So rather than try to keep going just follow the "Positive Discipline" principle which is: If you're emotional you can't find a good solution. Intelligent communication does not take place when you're emotional. It takes place when you're calm. That's why calm is the first word. Calm -- intelligent -- communication.
So I wrote that up and then I remember that I said something a long time ago about consensualocracy and computer is so wonderful, you just type in the name of the file and there it is. So, I'm going to quote from some of that, this was in early 2002. We gave a talk on consensualocracy which develops similar points but it's not, it's not looking at a discussion between two adults it's looking at a group discussion. So four or five people are getting together and trying to discuss a project.
In politics you are happy to have a majority. If something gets the majority, if more than fifty percent of the participants vote for something, it wins. Why do we use majority in politics? It is because people have such diverse opinions there is no way you can get everyone to agree. They just hold very diverse beliefs on basic facts on how life should be lived, about wealth, about government. If you can get more than fifty percent to agree, you consider that a majority, and you do it that way. It's the best you can do.
However, in religion, members of that religion have the same beliefs, respect the same hierarchy, perform the same religious services. This makes having everyone agree a possibility. In that context, Gurudeva defines consensualocracy as "Government or management by intelligent cooperation based on a shared vision and adherence to dharma. Ahimsa, non-hurtfulness is the key note of this tribal family system of rule."
Even "Positive Discipline" says: You have to have consensualocracy. When you have family meetings you have to run them by majority you have to run them by consensus; everyone has to agree in a family meeting.
I repeated it for some reason.
Intelligent cooperation based on a shared vision.? Of course, our monastery works on this principle and our family missions worldwide also follow it. However, because so many activities we are involved in do not use it, I thought it would be helpful to share a few thoughts on how this type of management works best.
Taking the example of a meeting. A group gathers together to discuss a topic that needs a decision. In a non-consensualocracy approach, often individuals figure out their best idea, bring it to the meeting and try to convince everyone of their idea. If they are successful in convincing everyone, they feel great. If not successful, they feel the group has lost out on a great idea. They feel that things are only right if everyone agrees with the idea that they brought to the meeting.? That's a common approach.
Consensualocracy works best when you bring your best idea but are also open to other ideas. You are hoping that the group will get creative and develop an idea which is better than the idea that you brought, in fact, better than the idea that anybody brought. So, that's the idea of consensualocracy. Working together for a shared vision in a creative way. This is because you are looking to create the best shared vision through intelligent cooperation that you can. It is a creative process; it is a detached process. You are not attached to your own idea, not trying to dominate and have everybody agree with you. Rather you are trying to create together by each one contributing their best thoughts in a free flowing way and hoping to transcend what anyone would come up with individually. You are encouraging everyone present to express a view point. Thus, you don't dominate with a single idea as you want everyone to participate by sharing ideas.
Another point to avoid is sometimes we will get carried away in presenting our own view point and our words are so forceful, they hurt people. Or, they are even disrespectful and hurt people by not showing them and their ideas proper respect. Consensualocracy works best when we always speak kindly and praise others' good ideas. We want to be careful. As Gurudeva says: "Ahimsa, non-hurtfulness is the key note of this system of rule."?
So an interesting interview on television, it was Sandra Day O'Connor was being interviewed. Former Supreme Court Justice, very interesting lady. And she was talking about the decisions and quite often on the Supreme Court decisions are five to four. They don't have consensualocracy on anything. Just the majority. And interesting they sit in chakravala, so she was the youngest, so she sat at the end. Chief Justice is first then they go around in order of seniority, chakravala order. So, her opinion was the last opinion and in many instances it was 4 and 4 and then it came to her and she was, she was the person who was the fifth one and therefore what she decided determined the decision. What an interesting position to be in being the youngest one, you know, here you are. So what she said was very interesting. They're making decisions all the time and then when you stay on the Supreme Court you stay there for many many years usually. It's surprising how old the justices are. The point she made was: You learn to disagree, agreeably. You learn to disagree, agreeably. Because you are going to be together for a long time. This is a permanent, you know, fairly permanent group so you can't make a fuss when you disagree. You have to do it in an agreeable or respectful manner.
So that, to me, shows the idea of consensualocracy which is the same idea as Positive Discipline, really. You have to be respectful to the child and respect the child's point of view; it's just not a mature point of view but somehow the behavior made sense to the child. Have to respect the child and correct the child with respect and then the child will be more likely to change behavior. Likewise when two adults disagree you have to respect each other, respect each others' opinions which can be quite different. Somehow, men and women don't look at things the same way; have you ever noticed that? Just that fact that one's a man and one's a women can mean they'll never agree on something. So, we need to respect that difference and find compromise that meets the needs of both parties. And then the third example is: Meeting in a group. We need to respect each others' opinion and try and be creative. When the group is of like mind such as a Mission, Church Mission Group or a Monastery they have enough common beliefs and background to actually have this principle of consensualocracy work. Where they get together and express ideas and in a creative way come up with a better idea than any of them would have thought of individually.
Aum Namah Sivaya
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