Google+ Authentic Parenting: Gentle Discipline Issues

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gentle Discipline Issues

Parents who apply gentle discipline will often get nasty looks, frowns, raised eyebrows and muffled words when they are 'disciplining' their child. There are numerous reasons for these reactions of outstanders.
The most important one is that gentle parenting isn't an omnipresent parenting style (just yet?). There is also the misunderstanding that gentle parenting equals permissive parenting and would raise disrespectful hellkids.
But the most important reason gentle parenting often evoques negative reactions is that to most people, gentle discipline doesn't look like discipline at all.

For the gross of people, discipline equals authority and authority equals authorian, top down, coercive and manipulative parent-child communication, thus, for most peope discipline simply equals punitive measures.

When a parent threatens a child, uses time-outs or the counting method, or even spanking, people will just go along with their business, because they accept this as disciplinary measures. But a parent acting lovingly towards their child, speaking in a soft tone instead of a harsh voice, when their child is so obviously 'acting up' and not 'doing as they're told', not 'being a good boy'; this is parental weekness in the public eye.
These parents must be spineless pushovers who leave their children to run all over them...

Many a parent feels coerced by these looks and hushes to result to a kind of parenting they do not endorse.

Gentle discipline indeed does not allways give immediate result. It can be a lot more time consuming than punitive measures. But sticking with it raises critical thinkers, and it does have results in the long run.
Effective discipline is where a child understands and accepts a situation, not where she is coerced and manipulated into doing something against her will. There is much more value in a child learning to evaluate situations herself than in sinply doing as told. In the long run, that child will internalize discipline, which is something the products of authoritarian parenting might never do.



  1. Amen!!! I have had some interesting looks when I speak to Abbey respectfully when she is acting out, say, at the grocery store, or at storytime...but usually the looks go away when my respectful way of addressing the problem actually works to make it go away.

    I have had lots of questions from friends about my gentle discipline techniques, that I've addressed on my blog. At first, one of my friends was really uncomfortable with the non-punitive aspect, stating that children have to have consequences for their actions or else they will never learn how to control themselves. I think now that she is starting to see that what I'm doing IS working, she has more respect for gentle discipline, although it's still way off course from what she does with her kiddos.

    But bottom line is....gentle discipline WORKS ... and WITHOUT SHAME. It takes patience and self control to be ever respectful and empathize with your little ones' struggles, but in the end, it is so much more healthy for them to be guided this way. Great post!

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post. We practice gentle discipline... well, we are learning to... and I get quite frustrated with the raised eyebrows i get when i am 'disciplining' my son. Even from my friends. I must admit there have been several times that I have resorted to more traditional techniques in public due to feeling pressure to 'pull him into line'. Ugh.

    I think it's the consequences thing that bothers most people about it. But what are false consequences teaching them? How does taking TV priveliges away, for example, teach them not to run off in the supermarket? Its all about letting them learn from natural consequences, which doesn't always happen straight away.

    It's so very hard to learn to trust and respect your child when you have been brought up in a society where children aren't to be respected or trusted, but its a learning curve well worth travelling.

  3. Imogen, the first steps are always the hardest... You will find it might be steep at first, but once you're over the hill, it gets easier

  4. I guess I am blind to the looks of others. Or maybe the way I employ gentle discipline has a positive effect on others. I can usually get right to the root of the problem and get it fixed. I'm not a pushover and I don't think I appear to be one. I think I appear to be calm, patient, communicative, intuitive and creative. Even if that isn't what others are seeing, I really don't care. This style of discipline is loving and it is working really well for us.

  5. I always notice that the parents who are constantly yelling and threatening to punish their children have children that just don't seem to care about what their parents are saying. It seems so glaringly obvious to me how gentle discipline is a much more effective way of doing things!


I love comments! Drop me a line