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Workshop #8: Discipline

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 
Workshop #8 - Discipline.

Welcome to our eighth Natural Family Living discussion: Discipline; This discussion will key in on
Part 5 – Family Matters from Peggy O’Mara’s book Natural Family Living.

Some of the topics we'll discuss are;

Chapter 15 - Discipline
Punishment Does Not Work
  • It does not teach
  • It does not encourage self-discipline
  • It addresses symptoms not causes
  • It requires constant escalation
  • It is not motivating
  • It is not fair
Punishment Harms
  • It sets up adversarial relationships
  • It teaches children to stifle their feelings
  • It can perpetuate a cycle of anger
  • It is confusing
Never Hit a Child
  • It teaches that hitting is the way to solve problems
  • It humiliates and demeans
  • It can be abusive
  • it is never justified
The Problem With Time-Out
  • Children have good reasons for their behavior
Alternatives to Punishment
  • Use positive reinforcement
  • Create a positive environment
  • Say "Yes," as much as possible.
  • Save no for the important things
  • Use natural consequences
  • Use restitution
  • Leave it up to your child
  • Compromise
  • State your expectations and get out of the way
  • Give Specific instructions
  • Give a reason
  • Offer help
  • Give a Choice
  • Redirect
  • Remove
  • Make positive statements
  • Give in occasionally
  • Give your child time to agree
  • Simply insist
  • Make rules
  • Ignore some behavior
  • Avoid nagging and threats
  • Distract
  • Use Humor
  • Make it a game
  • Be willing to admit your mistakes
  • Stop and think before you act
  • Don't make a big fuss over little things
  • Stick to routines
  • Don't hurry your child too much
  • Get to the root of the problem
  • Correct one behavior at a time
  • Give yourselves time
  • Use the Golden Rule
  • Model appropriate behavior
  • Think of your child as an equal
  • Always keep your love for your child in mind
Claiming your Authority
Communication that Encourages Cooperation
  • Use "I" statements
  • Describe
  • Reduce
  • Empathize
  • Admit your own feelings
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Don't do anything
  • Let your child speak for himself
  • Help your child express their feelings
  • Do not pry too much
Ineffective Communication
  • Blaming
  • Accusing
  • Name calling
  • Threatening
  • Lecturing
  • Commanding
  • Warning
  • Evoking Martyrdom
  • Comparing
  • Prophesying
  • Using sarcasm
Parenting With Encouragement
  • Examine your expectations
  • Focus on the positive
  • Give Constructive Criticism
The Problem With Praise
  • Be Specific
  • Describe rather than judge
  • Be honest
  • Give Encouragement
  • Express Appreciation
  • Don't criticize while you compliment
  • Praise effort
Staying Out of Danger With Anger
  • Recognize the early warning signs
  • Recognize the cause of your anger
  • Take a time-out
  • Verbalize your anger
Coping with Sibling Rivalry
Peaceful Parenting: The Roots of Non-Violence

Please join us in discussion on Discipline. We welcome everyone to share their personal experiences, what works for your family, your struggles and your ideas. This is an open dialog and we ask that everyone be respectful of others' opinions. Take what feels right to you and leave the rest behind. Please be respectful to all our members so that the workshop can be a place of meaningful and respectful discussion for all our members. If you have a favorite quote from Natural Family Living, please share it.

We would like to invite everyone to join us no matter where you are in your thinking or feelings. These discussions are meant to be nonjudgmental so please keep in mind when reading members' responses that this is a true discussion based on Natural Family Living and not a place to debate or criticize. For more ideas and information, please see our Gentle Discipline forum.

We’re excited to offer this workshop and hope it will give our members a glimpse into the grassroots of Mothering magazine and Natural Family Living.

This workshop will be facilitated by our moderators allgirls, abimommy and Jacque Savageau. They are here to guide the discussion and keep it on topic. They will occasionally post references or ask questions to keep the conversation flowing. Please feel free to contact them at any time with questions, suggestions or concerns. Please keep in mind our workshop guidelines and current user agreement at all times.

We are compiling a Natural Family Living Resources Sticky which we will update with each workshop. Please feel free to refer to it for more information.
post #2 of 64
I am really excited about this. I definitely do my best to use gentle discipline now. Like everyone says, when you know better, you do better. I have apologized to my teens for not being "gentle" with them. I wasn't a tyrannt, but not the way I am trying to be with the little one. My biggest challenge with this is my husband. He is very authoritarian and I really do not know how to get him to lower his voice. Hopefully I can find answers here.


That is why I love MDC. We can all help each other.
post #3 of 64
Hi everybody! I am so excited to be here! I have 4 daughters ranging from age 18 down to 3 years old.

The most difficult and most important part of gentle discipline for me is self-discipline. I have found that a lot of what I needed to become successful in dealing with my children in a calm and compassionate manner was a resolve within myself to maintain a level of patience and understanding with them and with myself. I've found tools to help me cope with stressful times and learned how to effectively let go of guilt feelings when I've fallen short of the ideal.

Be gentle with yourself, be gentle with everyone(because the children are watching) and be gentle with them. They will learn the compassion they are shown, they will model the respect they are given and they will love as they've been loved.

I look forward to being a part of this workshop.
post #4 of 64
hi all,

I'm so glad to read this tonight. I am a mother of a 19 month old. I was a teacher for over 10 years, but I still need lots of help with parenting and discipline.

Lately my son has been being a typical toddler, complete with tantrums, screaming (and of course all of the heart-melting adorable behavior as well). Today I found myself acting a little mad, and I thought, I have got to get on top of this.

It's so different as a parent. Instead of the classroom and the defined role of leader and teacher, at home I am just me. Alone with my little one. (Dad works days.) It's so much harder to keep my cool and keep order under these circumstances! Wow! Today I said something so impatient, almost sarcastic even, and I barked at him. Yuk. And the other day he smacked me across the face as I was waking up and I smacked him back! (I think I cried harder than he did.) So, this is a whole new world to navigate, and I need some help. I don't want to end up feeling awful about myself just because I don't have the tools to practice discipline in a manner I can be proud of.

So here I am. I loved the gentle parenting guidelines - this is something I can work with. Thank you for being here.

K : wife to S lovin our little one P :
post #5 of 64
I'm thankful for this workshop too. Right now has been a stressful time for me. We're moving out of the state and I have a 4 yo, 21 month old and a 6 week old.

I've found myself yelling more often which doesn't accomplish anything except making me feel like a 2 yo!

I actally really want o buy the NFL book that this workshop is based on...I've never read a book on GD and I know it would help me w/ ideas.

I always used positive reinforcement (not saying no) w/ DD1 but w/ DS I have strayed b/c everything is so constant I think I stop thinking sometimes.

It's harder and takes more thinking to be gentle but I think it gives the whole house a much better tone and makes for happier people.

(my DH has an authoritative personality...I just try to take the situation into my hands. We also have conversations about raising the kids and what we want for them that way we can be on the same page. He's really open to it when I approach it in a "let's-try-this-and-stick-to-it-for-such-and-such-time-until-we-see-results" way.)
post #6 of 64
With GD often, unlike other discipline methods, the goal isn't immediate change in behavior necessarily but a long term way of viewing discipline and for me it's about raising emotionally healthy children and adults and helping them negotiate their way in the world.

This can work as long as you realise that the waiting it out to see if it works part really often is just waiting for the phase to pass.

Whining is a good example of that. Whining drives me mad and a lot of people punish the whining trying to negate the behaviouir out of the child. I think this prolongs the phase but for those who think it worked the child often has just outgrown the phase.

I've learned, with 4 girls that it is generally a phase and working with the child to make sure it doesn't become habit, asking for a repeat in a non-whining voice and ignoring a lot of it, not making it a big issue has worked but only in that it gets you through until they are done with the phase.

The difference between the two is that in the second the child comes through the phase more emotionally connected to the parent. This is an advantage for the parent and the child.

You can spend a child's toddler years slapping their hands, putting them in time outs, punishing unwanted behaviours and somewhere around age 3 or 4 they will likely have learned to control a lot of their impulses

or you can spend a child's toddler years working on your relationship with them, encouraging them, redirecting them, teaching them, showing them and guiding them and somewhere around age 3 or 4 they wil likely have learned to control a lot of their impulses.

It's all developmental.

Again the difference is in the strength of the relationship with the parent from an adversarial "us against them" in the first example or a "mom and dad will help me with this" in the second one.

Just some stuff I've figured out along the way.
post #7 of 64

I am excited about this workshop! I am mommy to to girls, 7 and almost 5, and due in about 2.5 weeks with baby #3.

I am looking forward to discussions of alternatives to punishment. I find that I end up raising my voice too much, and I agree with the pp who stated that self-discipline is the foundation of gentle discipline, and I am hoping that this discussion will help renew my commitment to these principles.

I also identified with the pp who had been a teacher. I was not a teacher, but worked with children from preschoolers to teens in our congregation before becoming a mother, and always prided myself on being able to identify and connect with them. I always loved being around them, and have maintained close relationships with many of them as they've become young adults. I was shocked to find myself so tested at times by my own children, and finding my patience stretched to the breaking point. Moral of the story? My patience needs to stretch much farther.

So if I lurk, it will be because I feel quite humble coming to this discussion and feel I have more to learn than contribute, but I will try to do my share. Thanks to MDC for starting these workshops!
post #8 of 64
I'm the mama of a three year old and a nine month old and I also nanny another three year old. So, two 3.5 year olds and a new walker...enough said.

I've really come full circle since I was pregnant with my first. I came from a 'obey first without question' background. I always thought I'd have that kind of kid. I was a nanny and preschool teacher for years before I had dd, and the kids just always listened to me, I never had to resort to threats or punishments (obviously, they weren't my kids). Not even a time out, which was so popular in the preschool setting.

Then I had dd, and I couldn't imagine forcing her to blindly obey me, treating her as not much smarter than a family dog. I had no desire to 'train' her in any way...sleeping, eating, discipline.

So, we began our consensual living journey. This went fairly well (I wont say I was perfect by any means, I still had moments of imposing my will) until she hit about 3. She has always been a very head strong kid, and honestly it's one of the attributes that I both love and hate. She is very active, precocious and SMART. She will call me out on everything. She definitely keeps me honest and fair.

HOWEVER, she is still only 3 years old. And because she's been on this earth for just a wee bit less time than I have, her ability to be reasonable is limited. This, of course, is developmentally normal and appropriate, and I totally get that. Sometimes though, I do need to step in and impose my will, not in a forceful manner, but in a gentle, kind, firm manner. Like throwing stones toward (not at, it was not in a malicious way at all) toward her sister. She doesn't really have the foresight to know that if one of those hits her sisters head, she could be hurt. And my telling her this could happen wasn't curbing the behavior, so I had to physically move her to another location. When she protested, I told her her options were to stay there to throw stones or not throw them at all. Not consensual, but working toward a mutually agreeable solution.

As she gets older, I am relaxing more and more as well. I let the little things slide, I don't worry so much about everything having a detrimental affect on her. I feel like now, I can honestly say "Abby, climbing on me like that is really annoying. Please stop" And expect her to stop. Whereas before I'd go into a hour long discussion and negotiation about climbing on me. Or I would have inconvenienced myself and whoever was on the phone with me by hanging up so she could climb on me.

I've had to be careful about going into "mommy-martyr" mode. I can doubt myself so much about every little thing. Telling my 3 year old I don't feel like putting ANOTHER puzzle together (because I need to cook dinner for our family) is NOT detrimental to her spirit or telling her to use crayons instead of paint (so that I don't have to spend another hour cleaning up paint for the third time that day) is not killing her artistic self.

On the other hand, I do try and give her every freedom and respect I give any other person, and many times, I *am* inconvenienced by cleaning up paint or shaving cream off the wall. I've tried to limit my 'rules' to

1. Treat people, animals and property with respect and kindness.

That's pretty much it. And most everything we 'discipline' for (talk about, teach) falls under that category.
post #9 of 64
I'm excited to be here, and I really liked this:

Originally Posted by allgirls View Post
You can spend a child's toddler years slapping their hands, putting them in time outs, punishing unwanted behaviours and somewhere around age 3 or 4 they will likely have learned to control a lot of their impulses

or you can spend a child's toddler years working on your relationship with them, encouraging them, redirecting them, teaching them, showing them and guiding them and somewhere around age 3 or 4 they wil likely have learned to control a lot of their impulses.

It's all developmental.
Yes, this is what I'm finding, too! Though the learning-curve seems to be lasting slightly longer for my current 3yo.

With dd1, she developed verbally so early, that it seemed we were able to discuss so many things from an early age. I think this had a big impact on curbing physical aggression -- because by age 2, she was able to articulately express what she wanted, or speak up about a situaltion that she didn't like.

In contrast, dd2 seems to be about a year behind dd1 verbally (I would still talk with her, and explain things, as I did with dd1 -- but it didn't seem to be making sense to her in the same way it did with dd1, at least not a year ago, though it is now). A few months ago, she kind of had a language explosion, and now that she's 3 1/2 she has really taken off talking, but her speech isn't as easy to understand as dd1's has always been.

Plus, dd2 just seems to be a very physical child (dd1 is, too, but to a less-intense degree). Affectionate, but also very rough. It's getting better. When she was around 1 1/2-2, I went through a phase of just staying home with her as much as possible, because I literally had to stay at arm's length whenever we were out. If she saw another baby or small child, she'd make a beeline for them and reach out and grab and pinch their faces, shove, pull hair ...

Even now that she's no longer that aggressive, I get a lot of stares sometimes, because in any kind of play-group situation, I do have to keep a close watch on dd. She will sometimes just go up and impulsively grab toys, or kick, hit, or shove other kids. She also still loves throwing things around -- the whole gravity-fascination thing hasn't worn off for her yet.

So I have to keep shadowing her, and being proactive and helping her to communicate, sometimes taking her out of the play area if she just keeps being aggressive. What made it hader, last spring in our homeschooling co-op, is that there are 2 other children in that group who are, like, just 1-2 months apart from my dd in age, but they simply don't have her aggressive tendencies. Their mothers can even chat in one room, while these children play together in an adjacent room ...

So I've gotten a little flack from these mothers for my gentle discipline style. One mother has suggested the Pearls' Train Up a Child book to me -- she thinks dd is too old to still need me following her around as I do, and she's said that if I "disciplined" her I'd be able to relax more and not always have to be chasing dd.

This seems to be the real challenge now. I definitely believe in gentle discipline -- but I also have 2 very spirited girls.

As some others have mentioned about "authoritative" dh's, dh and I have our work cut out for us, trying to get on the same page. Dh started out leaning much more toward authoritarian discipline, but is gradually moving more and more to the gentle side.
post #10 of 64
This sounds exiting.

GD is, in my mind, the absolute most important part of parenthood when our kids no longer are babies. But, ooh soo difficult many times!

My biggest challenge is the fact that my son has some anxiety. So he NEEDS me alot. every. single. hour. of. the. day. And even though I know so, so well that he does not do this on purpose, it still makes me frustrated. And when I am frustrated, I`m less patient. And when I am less patient, I use a tone of voice that makes him feel bad, and that makes him feel this is his fault. And it isn`t.

What helps me, is reading. I`m a total GD/AP-book junkie. I can litterally feel the changes inside me when I read a great book.
post #11 of 64
I am a mama of a bright, curious, wonderful, sometimes challenging three year old.

My journey to gentle discipline has been extremely healing to me, as I grew up in a very verbally and physically abusive home with lots of shaming, manipulation, and high stress. Up until about 10 years ago I believed I would raise my child the same way. I believed children could be "bad" and that they "deserved" punishments, spankings, and manipulation.

I think the time that began to change was when I began confronting my past and realizing it wasn't at all right what was done to me and also painfully admitting to myself that my mom and stepdad really did abuse me. I think it is very difficult to get to the place where you can admit that, but I think it is the first step in the journey to healing when you have been abused. Admitting that the people who love you, hurt you.

So, first I was at the place here I would never ever hit my child -- but I still thought a lot of other tools I now believe to be not gentle -- shaming, manipulation, punitive removal of privleges and the like -- were okay, and would be things I would utilize in parenting.

Then, some years back I begin a spiritual journey back to God and begin reading a lot of my Holy Book. Instead of some folks who interpret it as a justification to do things that are cruel - I saw it in a different way. I saw my God as a loving, unconditional God who was kind, gentle, forgiving, loving, full of grace, and I wanted to be that way with the people around me -- specifically any children I had.

When I was very newly pregnant, I was on another site and befriended a woman who also was a member here. I was having a lot of conflict at the other site and she suggested I come here, because she felt my ideas, opinions, thoughts (on things such as gentle parenting, natural parenting etc) would be more honored and accepted here. I believe we were meant to be friends for several reasons, but one of which was so she could lead me here and help me on my journey.

I began frequenting the GD board and the amount I have learned from some of the wise mamas on there can not be measured. I began to explore consensual living and it felt right to me on so many levels. It still does, but now as a seasoned (lol) mother of a three year old I have relaxed in so many areas.

I agree with a lot of what mommy2abigail wrote -- and it is no surprise that we are close friends in "real" life -- we met on MDC and our journey has more or less paralelled each other's disciplinewise. It is very nice to have a friend both on and offline who truly gets that life is not about sticking to a rigid ideal -- but more, using the ideal as a touchpoint that you always strive for, while understanding that life is often a lot more messy than that!

We love our daughter unconditionally. We don't shame, manipulate, punish, withhold affection, yell, intimidate, or (it goes without saying) hit. Now, that is our ideal. We do however, allow natural and very temporary logical consequences. In other words, there is no "you lose that toy for a WEEK!" but rather, "if you can't treat ___ respectfully, let's put it away for a few minutes while we cool off". That would be an example of how we would use a temporary logical consequence.

I have come to a place with occasionally "pulling the mama card" when I don't anticipate a mutually agreeable solution to be found any time soon and where I believe I am acting more rationally in the moment.

I have learned an invaluable amount from exploring and living consensually with my daughter, however, I was finding that times which weren't consensual for me were piling up far more than I was comfortable with and I felt I was living in a dynamic where I was sacrificing a lot of my preferences, wants, opinions, to hold on to that ideal at all costs.

That having been said though, it is certainly what I most closely identify with and how our life pretty much looks on a day to day basis. I am also certain that the older dd gets, the more mutually agreeable solutions will open up -- just by virtue of her natural development of more empathy, reason, negotiation skills, patience (and the further development of those qualities in me too!)

There is a lot of humor in our home, a lot of laughter and silliness (even before dd came a long), so we use a lot of playful parenting and humor as well.

I love the posts of Sledg, and of mammal_mama, and UnschoolinMa and the like. I think I love their posts because they are posts that speak to balance, and to ebb and flow, and that which recognize that our approaches change as we change and as our children change, and we grow as our children grow, and as we know better we do better.

I spend a lot of time thinking about how I want my child to view me when she is an adult. This is important to me because I believe children are extremely loyal to their parents, even when their parents are abusive . Thinking about how she will view me and what she will reflect upon in her childhood when she is a grown woman and has been exposed to varying people and situations, and maybe a mother of her own helps me shape how I treat her as a child. I know it was shocking to me as a teen/adult to learn that other families were not as dysfunctional as mine.

I feel deeply proud of the way I am mothering my daughter and the way my husband is fathering her. I feel proud that we have never shamed her, or withdrew our love, or touched her in a way that was not in love. I am proud that we respect her opinions, her body, her preferences. I feel proud that we freely give of our love and celebrate her independence. I pray that all the things we do "right" will have way further reacing impact to her spirit than the few imperfections, the times of impatience where I may have barked a bit, the few times we have pulled the "parent card".

If nothing else, we are always honest with her and treat her in a way that shows we believe her to be a smart, thinking, empathetic, caring person. As she grows and matures I believe our conversations will turn to my childhood and I can explain to her (hopefully without villifying my parents) that dh and I childhood's were extremely punitive, and that we ourselves had to raise ourselves in a sense while we were raising her.

I do know this for fact: dd does not fear us. She is secure in our love and in her place in our family. She sees herself as firmly intwined in the goings on of our whole family unit, and not as someone who "joined us" and had to adapt to our ways. She can always count on our honesty, on our love, on our advocacy of her and her wellbeing. She is loved, she is respected.

I am extremely thankful for what I have learned here, as the gentle discipline forum and its members here at MDC have been central to my growth as a mother and healing as a woman
post #12 of 64
One thing that has really struck me is reading about other people practicing consensual living talking about using logical consequences/coercion on occasion - and not in a fraught with guilt kind of way.

I'm at a point in my gentle discipline journey where I'm just really confused. I totally dig the idea of consensual living in the abstract. I really struggle with the application of it to my life with my particular child. And I've felt really horrible that coercion sometimes seems necessary, because I have this fantasy of consensual living. But I have a child under two. Physically restraining her in order to let professionals perform medically necessary procedures that she simply was too young to understand not only seems like the gentlest option but the only decision a responsible parent could make. That sometimes I have to say, "No," because I want to model taking care of oneself. And even though I've discarded the idea that consensual living could work for our family, I still feel the guilt - that if I were super-parent, somehow I could magically have the right parental skills to both keep my daughter safe and healthy without ever resorting to coercion. I'm really trying to let that go.
post #13 of 64
I'm so happy to see so many of you here ready to delve into this.

Is there anywhere in particular you would like to start?
post #14 of 64
Originally Posted by CatherineEL View Post
hi all,

I'm so glad to read this tonight. I am a mother of a 19 month old. I was a teacher for over 10 years, but I still need lots of help with parenting and discipline.
I totally relate to this post as I am a former teacher as well. Before I left to be a SAHM I actually ran the entire behavioral modification program at my school and taught other staff how to discipline with respect. HOWEVER, it is so different when it is you and your child. I am so much more emotionally connected and wrapped up in my 18mo and so much of the time it is just he and I in the house (DH works days as well.)

What I have learned lately is that when I have nothing else to do and am simple spending time with him, I have no problem being patient, redirecting, being playful, regardless of what undesired behavior he is displaying. Yet, it is when I am trying to actually accomplish something that I struggle with giving him the time he needs to make his own decisions and keeping my temper in check. I find myself thinking that I want to practice gentle discipline, but HOW DO I EVER GET ANYTHING DONE????

I'm very glad this thread is here and I'm really hoping to pick up some inspiration and tricks of the trade from more experienced Mammas.

Do ya'll think the first three years are the most difficult with this sort of philosophy because the little ones are still so impulsive?
post #15 of 64
Originally Posted by AaronsMommy View Post

Do ya'll think the first three years are the most difficult with this sort of philosophy because the little ones are still so impulsive?

I do. I think the first few years (ymmv) are the toughest because you are laying the entire foundation for your entire relationship -- setting precedents on how you are likely to react, getting to know each other's personalities, forming the attachment, feeling your way to what feels right with reacting to each other. Add that to a small child who doesn't have nearly as many tools as we have acquired (hopefully!) in our life's journey thus far, and I do think it is the toughest in the beginning few years.

Now, I only have a three year old so come talk to me in five years but having observed others with older children -- it seems the older children get, if the attachment is strong, if they feel heard and respected, if they feel they can openly speak to their parents about tough issues - discipline seems to get easier and become more of a two way street. An example of this would be my sister's kids who are now 16 and 18. It is not to say they are perfect children who never made mistakes (unfortunately, GD doesn't guarantee us this ) but the way they communicate with their parents (sis and bil) is awesome and something aspire to with my own daughter. They feel equal, and heard, and loved unconditionally. They accept guidance but think for themselves as well. They are more mature, able to reason, able to compromise when it calls for, able to empathize, have gained more impulse control -- so as a result, it has gotten a lot easier for sis and bil to "discipline" (on the spectrum they are not quite consensual but pretty darn close in most situations). Now as young adults they are just great kids with a great relationship with my sis and bil. It is truly refreshing to see. I don't believe GD "created" the great kids -- I think they were born good (as I believe all children are!) -- I think though, it helped that *goodness* to blossom and flourish.
post #16 of 64
I agree. It's the foundation, and it's HARD sometimes, especially if you don't have the template from your own childhood to consistently parent in a respectful way.

I have a friend who recently told me it's all worth it though - her six-year-old is very respectful, compassionate and helpful, and she believes it's from the repetitive consistent respectful parenting she practices.

As far as getting things done, the best thing I've found is to offer to let DS help however he can. Sometimes he declines, but usually he wants to be part of what I'm doing. I'm reminded of something Pam Leo said in the teleclass I participated in - she says that kids are all about the process. It's not the end result, it's what you do on the way. The measuring and mixing, not so much the muffins in the end. That helps me to stop being in such a hurry and just allow him to participate in life with me. DS is almost 4 and his favorite activities revolve around doing laundry
post #17 of 64
Originally Posted by LianneM View Post
As far as getting things done, the best thing I've found is to offer to let DS help however he can. Sometimes he declines, but usually he wants to be part of what I'm doing. I'm reminded of something Pam Leo said in the teleclass I participated in - she says that kids are all about the process. It's not the end result, it's what you do on the way. The measuring and mixing, not so much the muffins in the end. That helps me to stop being in such a hurry and just allow him to participate in life with me. DS is almost 4 and his favorite activities revolve around doing laundry
I totally agree!!! My 18mo loves to help with laundry and cooking, he is basically the only one in the house allowed to operate the cuisinart at this point. He knows the sign for help and amazingly remembers everything that I have ever let him help me with.

And really the only time he ever acts out or tantrums is when I don't have the time (or the patience) to slow down and let him help me.
post #18 of 64
Originally Posted by boigrrrlwonder View Post
One thing that has really struck me is reading about other people practicing consensual living talking about using logical consequences/coercion on occasion - and not in a fraught with guilt kind of way.
Do you think that maybe you've seen consensual living defined more rigidly than it actually needs to be?

CL certainly doesn't mean the parents being coerced, or allowing our children to behave coercively toward other people or animals, or failing to protect our children in situations where they don't understand the risks.

After reading The Continuum Concept, and also reading comments from parents on message-boards whose children seemed to instinctively know never to run into the path of a car, I definitely had some sense of guilt over my youngest's seeming lack of a self-preservation instinct. I mean, I don't believe she really lacked the instinct -- but in her case, it didn't translate into her just automatically knowing what was safe or unsafe.

But of course I wasn't going to let my child run to her death. And for us, protecting her safety often entailed "coercion." When I first started researching CL, I thought there was a "no coercion" rule or something. But I've since learned that there is no such "rule."

The focus isn't on "not coercing" -- but rather on what we do want to do: listen, respond, help, support.
post #19 of 64
In response to the question about whether the first three years are the hardest, I have to chime in that I definitely feel that it depends on the child. When my dd1 was an only child (through age two), and even into her fourth year, although I could see the intensity within her, she was essentially a very well-behaved child. We would spend time in playgroups, and she was the one who was puzzled by other children's aggressive behavior. She expressed herself clearly and early, she was easy to take anywhere - from a fancy restaurant to friends' houses to playgroup to museums. She was intense and spirited, but well-behaved.

Now at seven, I don't know what to do with the dear child! She climbs things at the grocery store, gets "mouthy" and morose with me and her father when asked to perform simple tasks like put her laundry in her hamper, and acts aggressively toward her five-year-old sister. I'm not sure what we've done wrong, to be honest. I find applying GD with her to be a huge challenge, because I feel that behavior and speech that is disrespectful to others (including but not limited to her father and me) and infringes on their rights cannot be tolerated, and simple discussion of this fact doesn't seem to work. I find myself creating consequences, such as time-outs, because I don't know of another alternative. And yet, it doesn't seem to be working, so a return to GD principles seems in order. I hope it doesn't seem like I am over-reacting; the problem really has gotten to be what I consider extreme. Any suggestions?? I have a hunch that my own exasperation and frustration show too much and contribute to the problem, but my husband doesn't usually have this issue, and she responds the same way to him. Incidentally, she attends public school and is a model student - her teachers love her and we have not had a report of a single incident of problem behavior in her three years of public school and two years of Montessori preschool. She saves her frustrations for home, which I guess is a fairly good thing.

I find my second daughter, who is five, easier to use GD with. She just tends to be a more easy-going child who responds more readily. She does throw tantrums sometimes, but we wait them out and usually she goes ahead with what she needs to do. I also find it easier to figure out what I can do to facilitate the behavior that's desired - for example, with her, if the problem is stalling at bedtime, if I come in to help keep her on track, it goes fine. If I try that with my older daughter (even when she was five, this was true), it makes the problem worse.

I also identify with the pp who talked about identifying abuse in our own childhoods. I struggle constantly not to repeat those patterns. I completely KWYM about the shock at realizing that the way our families of origin "function" is actually dysfunctional. Thankfully, my dh's family was not like that and he comes from a much better place when it comes to discipline and respecting the child; even though his parents employed some methods that I would never use, there was an inherent respect for children that was lacking in my family. I think I need to frequent the GD board here more to reinforce the qualities I want to display as a parent. Thank you all for being here.
post #20 of 64
Originally Posted by boigrrrlwonder View Post
One thing that has really struck me is reading about other people practicing consensual living talking about using logical consequences/coercion on occasion - and not in a fraught with guilt kind of way.
I consider my home/our family (it's just two of us, me and my 3yo) to be consensual. I suspect that we fall short of what some people have as a vision of CL, but I've come to peace with the missteps and am still proud of our house and our consensual relationship and I am (almost always) guilt-free.

CL finally felt like a 'fit' for me when I realized that I didn't have to be perfect at it. Because I'm just as human as my daughter. CL began to make sense when I started thinking about what it doesn't mean: it doesn't mean that no one is ever unhappy and it doesn't mean that DD gets everything she wants (nor do I.) At this point in our lives, it doesn't even mean that no one is ever an unwilling participant in the other's decision. I think for us, right now, it means that we both believe that finding common ground is possible and important, and we try our best to get there. And neither DD's nor my agenda is more important than the other.

There have been times that I have insisted we get in the car. There have been times that I felt it was so important that we leave, that I physically put her in the car despite the fact that she didn't want to go. There have been times that I've felt it was so important that something isn't played with that I've taken it away even though she wanted to keep it. There have been times that DD has insisted we stay somewhere. There have been times that she felt it was so important that we stay that she has gone limp and physically refused to move. There have been times that she wanted to play with something so much that she took it and hid with it or took it without my knowing even.

I see all those scenarios as a breakdown in the process of finding mutually acceptable solutions; but really they are just times when she or I simply didn't know what else to do. We're still learning. I think we can still consider our lives consensual even though there are times when, despite our best efforts, we just don't know what else to do so we do the best we can. We're both human.

I'm not putting those examples forward as goals or proud achievements, it's just my reality. I have to allow for mistakes to be made or any paradigm I aim for will be a failure. In the end, I think what matters is that everyone in the family matters, which means we both win a lot and we both lose a little and we both keep working to find win-win solutions for each new conflict. And neither of us is seeking to change the other, which is the among biggest things for me.

So if that makes any sense, that's how I manage to be CL but not fraught with guilt about the times I've coerced or imposed my will on DD. We're both still learning.
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