Disciplining your son or daughter can actually be an opportunity for enhancing your connection with your child. Discipline is something you and your child can do together. Punishment, on the other hand, is something adults do to children. Punishment creates disconnection.

If a child is “misbehaving,” the behavior is often the result of the child feeling disconnected, so why continue down that road? Remember, kids want and need to feel connected, and they are going to figure out a way to get your attention. If you can remember to think “We have a problem” rather than “My child has a problem,” your perspective will help you figure out how to create a connection and teach (discipline) your child at the same time. When children feel that a mutual problem needs to be solved, which requires a joint effort for things to improve, there will be less lying (“I didn’t do it!”) and more effort put into doing the right thing (less sneaking around in an effort to figure out how to escape blame).

To create a family environment in which everyone feels they are creating harmony together, it’s nice to have a plan. Planning to give your child just a few minutes of your undivided attention can go a long way toward avoiding disconnection. When serious disruptions do occur, it can be helpful if everyone in the family knows there is a place to go to figure out solutions. The place might be a couch, loveseat, big cushy chair, a spot under the stairs, or a beanbag chair in the basement. When an upset occurs, anyone in the family can call for a meeting at the designated spot.

This important special solutions spot can be used for conversations about other family concerns as well. Maybe someone needs to talk through a bad day at school, friendship concerns, school vacation plans, or even how there hasn’t been enough time to connect and what to do about it.

Figuring out solutions together builds connection, empowers children, and gives parents an effective way to provide discipline. Where is your family’s special solutions spot?