Hi, my name is Mandy and I’m a recovering perfectionist! I’m also a student mom to two teenagers. I’ve been working in schools in Johannesburg for 20 years and I’m passionate about helping big humans understand and connect with small humans.
Here are my top x10 things you can do to help your child be successful later in life. It’s based on my Conscious Discipline approach to parenting. Conscious Discipline is an adult-first, child-second self-regulation programme. It was founded by Dr Beck Bailey in 1996.
The underlying idea for all x10 things is to be a role model for our children. Stop lecturing! Values are taught through human interactions, not through the lectures we give. So shift from ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ to ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. Remember, adult first, child second, you can’t teach skills you don’t have.
- Name the feeling – Having an emotional vocabulary is a skill. If “I’m feeling frustrated” is like a foreign language coming out of your mouth, chances are you were not exposed to this growing up. Emotions are not the bad guys; they are just energy in motion and research tells us that they only actually last 90 seconds!
- Self-regulate – This term is bandied around a lot but what does it actually mean? Self-regulation is the scientific term for resilience. It’s the cluster of skills that allows us to put a pause between the impulse and the response. Viktor Frankl said ‘Between stimulus and response lies a space. In that space lie our freedom and power to choose a response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.’ Self-regulation is a better predictor of long-term success than early reading, mathematics, or IQ. The way parents treat each other is more important for a child’s development of self-regulation than the way the parent treats the child. How to you get a self-regulated child? By being a self-regulated adult!
- Connect – Our brains are social organs, and we learn best through making connections. Conscious Discipline says that connections are made up of 4 components: eye contact, physical touch, being present, in a playful situation. More time connecting, will equal less time in a power struggle.
- T.I.P. Quit – Taking – It – Personally. Teach your children that the world does not rotate around them. Life is tough and messy. Susan David says ‘Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life’ besides, people who continually assume a victim narrative are draining to be around.
- O.P.S – Our Opportunity to Practice Skills. When we give ourselves permission to make mistakes, we give our children permission to make mistakes too. Our children are watching the way we treat ourselves and taking their lead from us. An example of this is when my child breaks a glass, I say ‘It doesn’t matter, there are lots more glasses and only one of you’ yet, when I break a glass, I berate myself for being so careless/clumsy.
- Assume Positive Intent – When we assume positive intent, ‘everyone is doing the best they can with what they have’ we suspend judgement and give people the benefit of the doubt. This takes us to the higher centres of our brain and avoid people being overly defensive. You also make it easier to engage in honest and productive conversations.
- Be assertive – Assertiveness is a sweet spot between being passive and aggressive. Teach your children to be assertive by role modelling this respectful, firm, and kind voice. Not only when you feel like it, but also when you’ve been triggered, and you’re dysregulated.
- Learn, Unlearn, Relearn – Alvin Toffler said the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. Show your children how to unlearn by being willing to shift your fixed mindsets.
- Stop criticizing your children – When you keep criticizing your children, they don’t stop loving you, they stop loving themselves. Shift from judging to noticing. From ‘good job!’ (they’re not circus animals!) to ‘You did it’ – your ‘you’ talk becomes their ‘I’ talk. This in turn helps to change from extrinsic to an intrinsic motivation.
- Self-compassion – You can’t drink from an empty cup/put your oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others. Whatever your selfcare/self-love/self-compassion routine looks like, be kind to yourself. Whether this is yoga, running, crocheting, gardening, or practicing mindfulness, completing your stress response cycle daily is the antidote to burnout.
Conscious Discipline provides adults and children with the skills to be disciplined enough to set and achieve goals, conscious enough to know when you’re off track and connected enough to others so you’re willing to persevere.
It takes a shift in mindset from how we were raised to think about discipline as punishment, to thinking of discipline as an opportunity to teach missing skills. Parents use the tools to gain control of their emotions and upset, and in turn, download that calm to their child.
Mandy has been the Headmistress at The Ridge School, a leading independent boys’ school in Johannesburg for over a decade. She is mum to two beautiful children, Robyn (13) and Ryan (15) and a proud wife to Garreth. Mandy has been working in independent Schools, both pre-primary and foundation phase with children aged 3-9 for 20 years. Mandy is an International Conscious Discipline Certified Instructor and sits on the Board at a Parkview Pre-Primary School. She is a Gallup Global Strengths Coach and an accredited performance coach. Mandy is a co-creator of Consciously Connected and a child whisperer. She is a dynamic presenter and thought leader, specialising in the development of Self-Regulation, Empathy, Authenticity and Connection.