Is it possible to gently discipline a child?
When my twins were born I read so many articles on gentle parenting and gently disciplining children. And a lot of them made sense. I even remember telling my husband then that I will never scold my kids ever. I will be the most patient mother. And my kids will be the most well-behaved kids.
But two years down the line, I realised its easier said than done. Kids test our patience and we tend to lose it on them on so many occasions. It takes a lot of conscious effort to stay patient, be calm and handle any situation dealing with kids mindfully.
Is it possible to gently discipline a child? – Disciplining our kids in a gentle and positive way isn’t easy but it’s not something impossible. It requires a consistent effort and being mindful at all the times.
Over these past five years, I won’t say I have been a perfect parent or perfectly mastered this technique of gentle parenting. But I have surely made a lot fo conscious efforts to understand all about it and incorporate its practices.
What is Gentle Discipline?
Gentle discipline focuses on teaching kids the appropriate behaviour. There are no rewards or punishments given to encourage the child to behave well. It involves teaching kids how to deal with their uncomfortable emotions. Parents talk to kids about their feelings and take them seriously. Kids feel validated when they see that adults take their feelings into consideration. When there is a problem, they work on problem-solving together and kids are allowed to give input. The key element in this parenting approach is ‘partnership’ with our kids.
Here are a few things I try to practice keeping in mind this kind of parenting approach –
1 Connect with my kids
Children have a profound need for connection. What they need when upset is not punishment/ time out but our love and support. So usually in a situation where my kids have done something extremely wrong (say spilled water all over the house) , I don’t punish them or scold and simply send them away. Instead I involve them in, give them a chance to articulate and express their feelings to explain why they did what they did and then ask them to come up with a solution. We then together try to fix the situation (say cleaning the floor together)
2. Give them choices not commands
Commands are more like instructions which kids are forced to follow. Choices give children the power to choose and they feel incharge of the situation. Simple choices work, like – would you like to wind up the toys before or after finishing your meals? Or would you like to brush your teach first or change your clothes first?
3. Make games and include playway approach
Usually winding up toys is a mission in our house. Both mumma and kids go on a mission and there is a competition who will reach there first. Playful techniques like these help instill good habits and discipline in kids in a simple and effective way.
4. Show them respect
As simple as that, to gain respect from kids, we need to first show them respect. It’s a two way equation. If we as parents respect their feelings, talk politely and be gentle in our conversations with them, they are going to pick up the same.
5. Setting limits and boundaries
We cant scold the child, can’t yell, spank or even give punishment. So how do we discipline the child? – that’s a question that usually crosses our mind – right? – Simply by setting limits and boundaries for those things that really matter. Having less, but constantly enforced boundaries is very important. My twins fight a lot with each other but ‘hitting’ each other is completely unacceptable. Setting limits and clear rules this way is important to let kids know when they are off limits.
6. Avoid labeling kids
We don’t realise how often we say ‘you are such a naughty child’. Instead of labeling kids as naughty or nice, we aim at describing their behaviour, and explaining how their actions make others feel. For example, “It’s so frustrating to clean the food spilled on the couch’.
7. Treat them as partners, not inferiors
A partnership means that kids are invited to help make decisions and to be included in various household tasks. I involve my kids in most house chores and even make them a part of family discussions and important decisions.
8. Don’t hesitate to apologise to them
There are times when we get it wrong as parents. We are humans after all. In such situations, I don’t hesitate to hug them and apologise for the same.
One major myth about gentle parenting and gentle discipline is that it’s permissive parenting, i.e, parents are very linient with kids and always attempting to please the child. However, I have realised its not that. Infact it focuses a lot on disciplining the child but in an age appropriate, positive, respectful, empathic and intelligent manner. Most importantly it focuses on creating a parent-child bond for life and strong relationship over the years to come. The healthiest and most effective way to teach any child is building them up, not breaking them down.
This post is part of the #BlogchatterA2Z challenge run by Blogchatter
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