“Using Village Helpers to Teach
Karen Rancourt, Ph.D.
To view video: vimeo.com/47635924
- Discipline = controlled behavior that is age appropriate and
doesn’t pose a threat to others.
- The disciplined child has learned to curb or re-channel impulsive
inclinations into behaviors that are socially acceptable
- In fairness to parents, it must be said that it’s easier to teach
discipline to some kids than it is to others
- The old African proverb, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.” as
a metaphor to suggest that there are other adults in a child’s extended
community or village, these I call village helpers
- Important to note that I am not
suggesting parents abdicate their responsibilities for disciplining their
- Alas, sometimes it falls on one
parent to be “the bad guy”
know about kids and discipline
- They are very adaptable and
flexible to rules and expectations of wide variety of people, even in same
family or school
- Kids often behave better for
- Home is the lab and place for kids
pushing back, experimenting and acting out
- Kids can be really tough when
young, and typically they turn out just fine!
- Can get stuck with primary
disciplinarians in power struggle cycles; need to break the cycle,
re-frame it in a way that removes the negative emotion and is face-saving
of already using “village helpers”
- Doctors, dentists, teachers
- “I don’t want to go to bed” (call
upon the pediatrician to set the rules)
- “I don’t want to brush my teeth”
(call upon the child’s dentist)
- “I don’t want to get dressed for
school” (call upon your child’s teacher)
- When grandparents and others are
being village helpers: stay out of their way; don’t over rule or interfere
the Village: Summary
proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” is used as a metaphor to
illustrate the value of a parent purposefully recruiting someone outside the
usual cadre of disciplinarians to help discipline their child.
It is not
uncommon for a parent to get locked into a repetitious cycle where the child is
misbehaving, the parent tries various interventions, nothing changes except,
perhaps, the emotional pitch becomes more intense
What started as an annoying situation often
escalates to one of anger and increased acting out.
In these situations, a parent deferring to
someone with authority for clarification can get the parent out of the futile
role of being “the bad guy or gal”
the issue for both the parent and the child on what is acceptable and
unacceptable behavior. Many times a child who is getting emotionally stuck,
e.g., having a tantrum, welcomes the presence of someone new, different and in
a position of authority.
these “village helpers” are strangers, if they are scripted correctly by the
parent, they can be effective de facto disciplinarians.