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No Rewards, No Punishments, No Misbehaving Kids: They Call It Gentle ParentingGentle parenting requires parental self-control.by Rebecca English .
In a piece in The Conversation, Bernadette Saunders described positive discipline. Parents who practise positive discipline or gentle parenting use neither rewards nor punishments to encourage their children to behave.
And by “no punishments” I mean they don’t use time-outs, smacking, shaming or yelling. Forget the naughty step, forget the sticker chart, let’s take a journey into the world of gentle or positive discipline, which aims to teach children empathy, self-control and calmness.
What is discipline?
Discipline has come to mean many things in our culture. When we are discussing child rearing, we understand it to mean reprimanding a child for “bad behavior”. The word discipline comes from the word disciple and means to teach.
The discipline advocated by gentle parenting families is internalized. They argue that to offer rewards and punishments overrides a child’s natural inclination to try. It teaches them to behave in certain ways for a reward, or to avoid punishment.
Advocates of gentle parenting say that rewards and punishments do not encourage children to internalize good behavior for its own sake.
What might the gentle parenting approach look like?
There are many websites and groups that can help you to practise the gentle parenting approach. Here are a few steps that parents take to encourage a partnership with their children:
They start from a place of connection and believe that all behavior stems from how connected the child is with their caregivers.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
They give choices not commands (“would you like to brush your teeth before or after you put on your pyjamas?”).
They take a playful approach. They might use playfulness to clean up (“let’s make a game of packing up these toys”) or to diffuse tension (having a playful pillow fight).
They allow feelings to run their course. Rather than saying “shoosh”, or yelling “stop!”, parents actively listen to crying. They may say, “you have a lot of/strong feelings about [situation]”.
They describe the behavior, not the child. So, rather than labelling a child as naughty or nice, they will explain the way actions make them feel. For example, “I get so frustrated cleaning crumbs off the couch.”
They negotiate limits where possible. If it’s time to leave the park, they might ask, “How many more minutes/swings before we leave?” However, they can be flexible and reserve “no” for situations that can hurt the child (such as running on the road or touching the hot plate) or others (including pets). They might say: “Hitting me/your sister/pulling the dog’s tail hurts, I won’t let you do that.”
They treat their children as partners in the family. A partnership means that the child is invited to help make decisions and to be included in the household tasks. Parents apologise when they get it wrong.
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They trust their children. What you might think of as “bad” behavior is seen as the sign of an unmet need.
They take parental time-outs when needed. Before they crack, they step away, take a breath and regain their composure.
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