I’m a really firm believer in gentle parenting (also called attachment parenting).
You know? The ‘we don’t ‘discipline’ our children’ type (said tongue firmly in cheek 😉 ‘
Seriously- I believe in getting down to the child’s level. Hearing them out. Listening before reacting. Being open to alternative suggestions. Doing ‘time in’ instead of time out. Hugging it out. I really do love my kids deeply, and believe that they deserve to be treated with respect, like I would treat any other human being. They are little people struggling with big emotions, and it’s normal for them to lash out (even, or especially, when they hit tween stage…) Just because they’re smaller or younger than me does not diminish their worth in any way.
BUT… (and this is a big but) there are times when I expect absolute obedience, no questions asked, and I’m totally willing to give a wallop on the bum to get my point across.
Examples include, but are not limited to:
Trying to put fingers into wall sockets.
Running in front of moving cars.
Running in a parking lot.
I HATE spanking my kids. I truly despise it.
But there are times, like the ‘life and death’ situations mentioned above, when a gentle (or even stern) talking-to simply doesn’t cut it.
Would this make me unpopular in certain circles? Sure.
Could it safe my kid’s life because they understand the gravity of the situation? Probs.
Obviously we’ll try doing the whole ‘Ohhh noooo, we shouldn’t run in front of moving cars because then we would go ‘splat’ and it would hurt so we shouldn’t do it’ talk first, but who has time for that the split second before that little speedster takes off over a busy road?
In the end, you need to discipline with your kid’s best interests at heart.
If you spank them because you enjoy it or ‘they had it coming’ or you need to blow off steam, you need to go and see a professional. If you say ‘no’ to EVERYTHING to show them who’s the boss, you are a bully.
BUT (yep, there it is again 😉 ) if you say ‘no’ to sweets and other ‘nice things’ because you care about their health and wellbeing, it makes you a good parent. Say ‘yes’ to the apples and healthy stuff. Let them watch one episode of Winnie the Pooh (NOT binge watch Cartoon Network!) Moderation is key. In discipline as well as life (and chocolate!)
If your intentions are pure, your discipline will be effective too. Well, it should.
Give your kids boundaries. Boundaries make us feel safe. Take, for example, the analogy of children in a park. If there is no physical boundary around a park, like a fence, but the park’s grass runs directly onto a road, the children tend to stay close to the parent. They don’t play freely, and they don’t venture very far from the safety of the parent. They don’t explore. They tend to be timid.
Contrast this with a park with a clear physical boundary line, like a fence. The kids run around, sometimes far from the parent, yet within eyeshot. They feel safe, because they know up to which point they are allowed to play. How far they can go until they get to the ‘danger zone’ (in this case- the road). They know that if they remain within the boundary line, they’re safe.
When your kids know which things are debateable (chicken or beef for supper) and which are not (drinking dad’s whiskey and running in parking lots), they feel safe. They know where the line is.
Where are your boundary lines? What do you/don’t you allow? How do you discipline with love? Let me know in the comments!