Self-Regulation

On the Unschooling Discussion list, someone wrote
I'm learning to self-regulate how I problem solve with my children and how I relate to my children by using this forum as a sounding board. It will take a great deal more self-discipline on my part than perhaps others to change to a life more full. Life itself takes a measure self-discipline ie, what will I let in, and what will I let leave out, and what will I not even entertain.
Joyce responded:
While all the above can be worded that way, by using the terms self-control and self-discipline and self-regulation it keeps the thoughts firmly fastened in the idea of always having to stop yourself from taking something you want.

Self-regulating (of TV or food or whatever) carries the implication of stopping before you're done. It suggests having some length of time or some amount in your head that's proper and stopping when you reach that.

At the beginning of a change, we can sometimes fake it until we make it, but that should be a part of consciously working on ourselves to change. Faking it won't lead to making it on its own.

While people can use the term self-regulate to mean stopping when they feel satiated, it isn't the same. And it's an important distinction when people are trying to change. It's more helpful to go for self-awareness than self-regulation. The first helps us internalize the ideas we're reaching for. The second keeps us going through the motions.

Words can shape our thoughts. It's helpful to think in different ways to be different.

You might not try to decipher it, but your brain picks up more than you know.
Yes, you've described the process of picking up language. Kids hear something and then hear it again and again *in different contexts*. Eventually they pull meaning from seeing things in different contexts.

But songs don't necessarily get processed in the same way. (Or not for all people.) I'm pretty good with words, I really love playing with words, but for me lyrics get taken in as sounds that fit the music. Even as an adult I don't process the meaning unless I get curious about a song and look up the lyrics. The lyrics get heard as just sounds being used to express the emotions of the notes.

While it's not true that all kids will ignore lyrics, it's also not true that all kids will internalize the lyrics. In a mindful home it's about paying attention to your particular kids and their particular needs. If a child is happily singing some nasty lyrics it doesn't mean they necessarily know what they're singing about and, in a loving home, the won't have embraced the ideas.

So another barrier against kids getting the message of lyrics is that the environments are alien to the child. In a loving home where people don't hit each other, hearing lyrics about a guy hitting a woman just don't have the same impact as they do in a home and an environment where that's common and even accepted by peers. For a child in a loving home, someone willfully hitting someone and feeling it's good is an alien thought. It won't make a chid want to hit any more than a character in a book kicking a dog will make them want to kick the dog. (And if they do then there's something else in the child's environment that needs tended to.)

Violence on TV and video games and music does not cause kids to be violent. Kids who are in violent environments often get drawn to violence (on TV and games and music) because it can feel like a way out of a bad environment.

Parents can ruin perfectly good songs by pointing out things that kids aren't even paying attention to!

It's helps unschooling and mindful parenting to be aware of *your* kids and *their* unique needs rather than treating them as generic kids with all the worst possible traits.

Joyce

Pam Sorooshian wrote:
t has helped me a LOT, in many different areas of life, to stop thinking in terms of trying to be more self-regulating or self- disciplined, but to think, instead, of making the best "choices" possible.

I've lost over 80 pounds in the past year—and seriously NOT through self-regulation, self-discipline at all. THAT kind of thinking, a dieting mentality, never worked for more than getting off a few pounds and then, when I "slipped" I'd put the weight back on plus some. Instead, I took what I learned from parenting/unschooling, and I began to absolutely revel in the joy of food. I looked at it consciously, carefully, took it seriously. I eat what I love to eat. I don't eat what makes me feel lousy. I make conscious choices. Is that piece of pie something I want enough to ingest the high fat content? Yes or no. NO guilt. If I decide to have it, I RELISH it. I eat with gusto!

The difference in outlook is astounding. My eating life is full of joy—I love food, love to eat, enjoy it FAR more than I ever did before. After every meal, I stop for a second and think, "Mmmm, that was really good."

The alternative way of approaching things, self-regulation and self- discipline, puts an emphasis on deprivation—"I will control myself and will NOT let myself have that piece of pie." Then, when I "can't resist," I have failed, I'm bad, I'm not self-disciplined enough. Think those kinds of thoughts and that becomes the reality for you. Really, you won't do "better" at things by depriving yourself, you do better by being oriented toward solutions, by "doing" rather than "not doing." Throughout the past year, if I ever noticed that I was thinking things like, "Oh, I can't have that," I would immediately replace that thought with, "OH! I CAN have that if I want it. Or I can have this alternative. Whichever I decide. It is my choice." Maybe the connection between parenting/unschooling and what I'm talking about here won't be clear to everyone, but, to me, it is exactly the same—a change in thinking that then manifests in long- term, real changes in behavior. I don't try to "control myself" around food and I don't try to "control myself" around my kids.

-pam

The full discussion can be found here (though you might have to join the list to read it): Rap Music

"Self discipline" is like "self regulation." It's still about discipline and rules. How and why should one discipline and regulate oneself, when decision making in the light of compassion and goodness will work much better? —Sandra Dodd

In response to

Life itself takes a measure self-discipline ie, what will I let in, and what will I let leave out, and what will I not even entertain.
Sandra Dodd:
That can all be rephrased in terms of choices. The idea of "self discipline" isn't as helpful to understanding unschooling as the idea of making mindful choices is. It's similar to the difference between teaching and learning.
http://sandradodd.com/teaching/
http://sandradodd.com/control

If you think of controlling yourself, and of your children controlling themselves, it's still about control. If people live by principles their choices come easily.

Sandra

Pam:
It has helped me a LOT, in many different areas of life, to stop thinking in terms of trying to be more self-regulating or self-disciplined, but to think, instead, of making the best "choices" possible.

Maybe the connection between parenting/unschooling and what I'm talking about here won't be clear to everyone, but, to me, it is exactly the same - a change in thinking that then manifests in long-term, real changes in behavior. I don't try to "control myself" around food and I don't try to "control myself" around my kids.

-pam

The full discussion can be found here (though you might have to join the list to read it): Rap Music


Note from a discussion in February 2012:
"I totally understand the idea behind radical unschooling, that children will self regulate...." It surprises me every time someone assures others that they COMPLETELY and absolutely understand that... and then make a statement that came from somewhere else. "Self-regulate" means "eventually do what the mom wanted, spontaneously," sometimes, and other times means that the child will begin to have "self control" and tell himself no. A lot.

It's much clearer to think of a child having choices, and making what seems like the best one, many times a day; many times an hour, sometimes. A kid surrounded by cows and mesquite might not want to go out there, again, just to go. A kid who lives in a cornfield isn't likely to run excitedly out to see that... again.

Marty's off at a park in armor, where he's gone most Sundays for five or six years (and half the Sundays of his life before that). Holly was out and about most of yesterday. They chose to be out. They weren't out because their mom told them it was better than a Wii.


Control and its related problems

balance * choice * Raising a Respected Child * where is the edge? * parenting considerations * unschooling

Photos and links for Joyce Fetteroll and Pam Sorooshian