Definition of coercion
- The act of compelling by force of authority
- The practice of forcing another party to behave in an involuntary manner
The force used can be physically, intellectually or morally, it can be actual or treathened. Coercion can be used to obtain action or inaction.
"Coercive parenting puts children down, draws undue attention to children's weaknesses and failures, and leaves children feeling unsafe in their own home and family."(1)
Coercive parenting uses shaming, bribing, threathening, tactics like reward and punishment. Latham lists eight common coercive behaviors (1):
- Questioning (f.e. having a child explain why he/she misbehaved)
- Physical or verbal force
Coersive parenting abuses the overwhelming physical and emotional power parents have over their children.
"Yet attempting to coerce a child to do something she doesn’t want to do neither works effectively in the short term nor supports our long-term needs." (2)The reaction one obtains is one of frustration. Coercion makes a person want to escape, avoid and cointer coerce (in other words 'rebel').
Breaking with coercion means we treat our children as real thinking human beings with their own set of feelings and needs. Non-Violent Communication is a good way to start banning coercion out of the language we use on a daily basis.
As many gentle parenting ways, breaking with coercion means a lot of introspect and means breaking with the way in which we were raised.
If you are still not convinced if you should include coercion in your parenting toolbox, or not, then ask yourself upon what motivation you want your child to act. Is it out of guilt? Because he feels shame or fear, to obtain reward, because he senses an obligation? Or out of pleasure? Because he wants to?
(1)Latham, GI. (2008) Coercion: The Real Parent Trap. In: Behaviorology Today, Vol II/I, pp 36-38.
Taking Children Seriously