Google+ Authentic Parenting: Non-Punitive Parenting Is A Mindset

Friday, January 14, 2011

Non-Punitive Parenting Is A Mindset

Parents generally handle punitive measures from a disciplinary point of view. They genuinely think that punishing their child will teach the child something. They try to turn an already emotional moment into a teachable moment, which is - logically - a paradox.
Most often, they are not to blame for this way of reasoning, since that's the way they were raised and that's what society perpetuates: "Give them a time-out, they will learn." or "Put him in the corner for a while so he can think about his actions."
They start of from the paradigm that the child is deliberately acting up and that he is doing it to
- get on your nerves
- get your attention
- manipulate you
and that this behavior needs to be dealt with swiftly to nip it in the butt.

To their dissarray, the punitive measures don't give an immediate result, they don't even have a lasting result if used repetitively. But, by lack of other tools, and on public recommendation, parents 'stay strong' and 'do not cave in' and stick with the system...

People who want to make the conversion to peaceful parenting often sigh that they do not have the tools to deal with heir child.

Actually, making the switch is not that hard. It is not even about tools or tricks, it is about changing your mind about your child. It is about not seeing your child's behavior as bad or naughty. And about knowing your triggers.

Yes, punitive measures are mostly about the way you as a parent respond to situations, not about what your child is doing at the time.

The next time you find your child doing something you would label as 'naughty' or 'bad', try to see it in a different light, try to see it as something positive! Your child is exploring, your child enjoys his freedom, he is experimenting, he is completely absorbed by his play... Feel how different your reactions are when you turn the situation that way.
Become mindful about the way you label your child's actions and feel your triggers fade away.

You will quickly find that there is no need for 'teaching your kid a lesson', your child is already learning. He is simply experimenting and being a child.

Good luck with your journey towards peaceful parenting, you will find it very rewarding. If you are looking for more articles to set you on your way, push the peaceful parenting label. If you are in need of help, feel free to send me an email.



  1. I need this kind of advice at the moment. Struggling with handling the tantrums in a peaceful manner...

  2. Unfortunately, sometimes children do behave bad, know it, and it need to be dealt with. Like when my son punched his sister in the mouth because she resisted giving him the toy he wanted... So yes, I sent him in his room. I took care of the daughter first, then I went to my son's room to have a conversation with him. I did not further the "punishment", though. I felt the talk was enough, and apparently I was right, no more incident like that since.

    So yes, sometimes children behave naughty, knowing well they what they are doing and why is it bad. A time-out in his bedroom then can be used as a way to keep the misbehaving child away from the tentation that caused the misbehaviour, a way to reduce the stress level because the well-known environment is appeasing, and last, a way to have a quiet place away from distraction to have a good conversation with the child.

    On another hand, putting the child in a corner, or hitting him, or taking away from him something he loves, does not seem interesting at all in an educational stand point. I do not see what it teaches the child, except that the parent is the boss (which is not the case imo)

  3. Sometimes, a child does something that is bad, and does it knowing what he is doing. And it needs to be dealt with. It does not happen often. The last time it happened, my son punched his little sister in the mouth because she resisted giving him the toy he wanted. That was naughty, he knew it, he did it anyway. I sent him in his room for a few minutes, the time it took me to take care of my daughter. Then I went to him, and we had a good conversation. There was no need for punishment, of course (never is).

    I "like" sending my child in his room when he is (very seldom) misbehaving. I find it works well. First, the child is away from what caused him to misbehave. Second, the stress level decreases in this well-known environment. Third, the place is quiet and I can talk with him without being disturbed. So I don't see it as punishment, but a necessary measure to process the misbehaviour.

    Also, I find it hard <> when he is beating up his sister ! I do not know how else to call it.

  4. Excellent, as always! I loved Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn for this very reason. What I needed most was a paradigm shift. The tools followed quite naturally.

  5. Murielle, I think the sending to the room thing can work both ways. It really needs to be viewed from the child's POV, if you are asking him to go to a soothing place where he can get his feelings together, and he is willing to leave because he knows it will help him, then yes, that's a good idea... if it is a command from the parent because that's what works for the parent.. then no.
    I think if you have a child who needs to regroup a little sometimes, setting up a soothing corner is a great idea

  6. Momagain... tantrums are the hardest. My daughter has them every once in a while, especially lately because I'm all alone with her and we're at my parent's so she can't do anything fun... The sad thing is that for her, they're mostly avoidable, but the setting here makes it so I can't and we both get frustrated. Hang in there!

  7. I struggle most when other children are involved. When my daughter snatches things or hits other, often smaller, children is something I find really difficult to deal with. I don't want to snatch the toy back or tell her off, but I feel for the other child. She's only 17 months old, so lengthy chats are tricky. It's made me avoid toddler groups now as I'm constantly swooping in to take her out of difficult situations, and I can feel the judgemental glares of other mothers expecting me to 'do something' with my child.

    Having said that, I am totally convinced that a peaceful approach is best. I just wish I could live up to my ideals! Thanks for the thought provoking and encouraging post.

  8. I completely get it, social coercion is terrible when it comes to parenting. I try to find parents who are comfortable with toddler power struggles a,d some roughhousing. But of course that is not always possible

  9. It is actually easy to "punish" and it's what most parents reach for. It takes a great deal of creativity for most of us, who were raised with that paradigm, to step outside. Parents punish out of fear. Some reflexively, some with entrenched attitudes it's the right or virtuous way to parent.

    Thank you for the phrase "non-punitive parenting".


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