How do you discipline your little one?
Have you ever thought about it? Have you ever considered how your approach to punishment is helping or hindering your little one’s growth and development?
Most people haven’t.
There’s a strong historical precedent for punishing children’s behavior seen as "bad" by the parents or caretakers. That punishment can take many forms, such as physical abuse (spanking, hitting, etc.) or mental abuse (language, withholding love, taking things they love away from them).
These actions don’t discipline children; they unjustly punish them. They lead to hate, resentment, deep psychological pain patterns, and manipulation within the children.
The differentiation between punishment and discipline is an extremely important concept to grasp. We aren't meant to punish our children into "good" behavior.
First of all, what is "good" and "bad" behavior? It's subjective and often ideologically (rather than realistically) driven. You don't want them to do something not because of a realistically justifiable reason (e.g., they are at risk of hurting themselves or others), but because you don't like it.
Second, punishment isn't a long-term solution and often a long-term disaster. What better way to make your child resent you and become manipulative (to get what they want)? We are meant to be guides and use positive reinforcement to discipline our children.
You need to give respect to get it, and this applies to your children as well. The only reason you have power struggles within your house is because you don’t respect your children. They are just a reflection of you, and that should be very insightful.
"Bad" child? It's a mirror of your behaviors whether you like it or not. Either through your guilt displayed in deeply permissive parenting, lack of respect modeled, neglect of emotional needs, or your aggressive behaviors displayed at home.
Children are little sponges. Little mirrors. Monkey see, monkey do.
Gentle discipline is the goal for most of us when we remove our habitual behaviors and look at children as their own autonomous beings that we are preparing for the big world.
The biggest difference is that gentle discipline acknowledges the different developmental milestones of our little ones. So many people get mad at babies, toddlers, and children for failing to meet unrealistic expectations. They don’t have the cognitive capabilities that an adult does. Yelling at or spanking a toddler for something is completely useless because the toddler cannot understand why you are engaging in such behaviors. All it knows is that you are hurting them.
This isn’t the same as permissive parenting. You still have boundaries, but you make those boundaries realistic, and you express them in ways that the little ones can understand. You explain yourself and your reasoning to them rather than approaching them with a God complex of “because I said so”. You don’t aim to hurt them physically or psychologically; you aim to help them understand why you have a boundary and how they crossed it. You help them learn and do better.
Keep in mind that having an emotional response to upsetting events is completely normal. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t have these. You just can’t let them get the best of you. When that does happen, take advantage of it as a learning opportunity. Explain to them that you lost your temper, that you treated them unfairly, that you probably scared them, and that you are sorry. Ask them what you can do to make things right. Don’t just sweep these things under the rug.
You can teach your little ones how to make amends, that making mistakes is okay, that you can remedy mistakes, and that no one is perfect.
Respect the child.
Work with your children to achieve a desired outcome.
Give them options. Let them have a say, even if just a small one, in decisions that affect them.
Again, gentle parenting is not permissive parenting. It maintains boundaries, respects cognitively appropriate expectations in relation to development, and works with the child as an autonomous being to achieve a desired outcome. It isn't a free for all driven by guilt as seen in permissive parenting styles and definitely isn't authoritarian in nature where critical thought is stifled for blind obedience.
Its foundation is mutual respect.
I don't know why we associate "respect" with age. From what I have seen age does not make you more respectful. I also don't think your age entitles you to a certain level of respect. We need to take age out the concept of "respect". - J. Milburn
Link to the book discussed can be found here.
Comment over here.