Today I would like to welcome Dionna, who has written a guest post on gentle discipline. Dionna is a lawyer turned work at home mama of an amazing son. You can normally find Dionna over at Code Name: Mama where she shares information, resources, and her thoughts on natural parenting and life with a toddler. I will have a guest post featured there soon on one of my joys in breastfeeding a toddler. Be sure to check it out!
As parents, we understand that it is our responsibility to act as our children's primary role model and teacher.
When a preschooler wants the freedom to dress himself, we teach him how to tie his shoes and button his shirt.
When a child asks for a bicycle, we help her learn how to ride safely.
When a baby shows an interest in music, we show him how to bang on a xylophone or press the keys of a piano.
When a toddler has a meltdown because she is overstimulated and overwhelmed, we . . . punish her? (1)
When our child "misbehaves," many times our first (or second or third) reaction is to punish her.
- Talk back to mama during dinner? Go sit in time out and "think about it."
- Smack baby brother and take his toy? Grab the toy back from him and yell at him for being selfish.
- Run away instead of cleaning up the mess he just made? Swat him on the rear and force him to clean his mess under your threatening glare.
Do parents really believe that a child's fear, resentment, anguish, and humiliation are necessary components of childhood learning? If not, doesn't every parent yearn for more peaceful, gentle ways of communicating with their children?
Maybe it would help if we could focus more on being role models instead of being instruments of correction or punishment.
Being a role model for your child is an important aspect of gentle discipline. "[G]entle discipline focuses on helping children work through difficult emotions and frustration in a supportive and empathetic environment . . . instead of simply punishing them for misbehaviour and rewarding them for good behaviour. Gentle discipline does not primarily aim to control children through external motivators such as rewards, praise or punishment, but rather aims to teach children how to control their own behaviour based on their own judgment and motivation." (2)
Parenting with gentle discipline does not mean that we let our kids walk all over us. It does not mean that we fail to set boundaries. It simply means that we approach our children with the same respect that we desire for ourselves. Parents and children are partners - not adversaries - in learning.
So, dear readers, I'd like to turn the post over to you.
Using the bulleted examples above (talking back, smacking/grabbing a toy, and running away from a mess), what gentle discipline ideas can you come up with that cast the parent as role model instead of punisher?
Brainstorming and engaging in a dialogue on gentle discipline "best practices" is a healthy exercise for us as we go through our own parenting journeys.