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TCS Discussion Threads - Archived

post #1 of 589
Thread Starter 
leaflady was wondering in a recent thread about how some of us are using the word 'coercion' . Speaking for myself, I am using coercion to mean "the psychological state of enacting one idea or impulse while a conflicting impulse is still active in one's mind. " quoted from the TCS short glossary at http://www.tcs.ac/FAQ/FAQShortGlossary.html .

There are lots of implications of this definition, which are explained on that link above.

I like this way of thinking of coercion, because it applies much more accurately to the state of mind of a person- that is where coercion occurs and does its harm, by hindering reasonable thought and learning and problem solving.

limited time now, glad to discuss this further, if anyone cares to.
post #2 of 589
Hey Larsay,

did you used to post under the name Suzan?
post #3 of 589
Thread Starter 
Yes'm- that information is buried in my reintroduction post on about page 7 of that thread on 'pleased to meet you' part of this board.
post #4 of 589
Thanks Larsy. I'm pondering that definition. I'm glad that you started a new thread for it.
So if I choose to bite my tongue rather than say something nasty to a relative (2 conflicting impulses in my mind)- is that self coercion?
Or when I struggle between procrastination and studio work- finally choosing one or the other while still feeling the other tug- is that self coercion?
Is there such a thing as self coercion?
post #5 of 589
Thread Starter 

ooooooh, yeah!

Self-coercion- oh, yeah, is there ever such a thing! I think this is a lot of what we learn as children when forced to pick up the blocks or clean up our rooms or whatever. Eventually, kids internalize that voice, having learned to force thier selves to do things they don't want to do. Voila, self-coercion. And if feels horrible and gets in the way of us living the life we want.

And I think people lose track of the ability to know what they want, through this same process of coercion. This is a form of coercion damage, imo. The ability to identify what a person wants in any given situation is essential, to be able to find common preferences, to find good solutions, or even to make good decisions. Have you ever dithered over what to order off of a menu? What to do today, when today nothing is scheduled for you?(hah! if only...most parents don't have the luxury of a day to themselves! But I highly recommend taking one, whenever you can arrange it!) Felt guilty about doing something that you just want to do for yourself? I think we all know how this feels.

I recall a big breakthrough for me, in my thinking, when I realized that it is ok to want what you want, and it is ok to get what you want. That I could figure out ways to get what I want without hurting anyone else in the process, and even to help them get what they want, too. Yahoo!

In the nasty relative scenario- what would the hypothetical person really want in such a situation? First, defense of their child (if there is a child involved). A parent's first responsibility is to their child/ren and their own self. I don't think a person can go wrong, when acting in their own best interests (which would include others' best interests as well, it seems to me, it's all tied up together) and this is the best motivation for children to act from as well! A person could speak directly to their child and reassure them that they have done no wrong, that parent does not agree with the nasty relative, and how about we go get some ice cream (or whatever). If the child is not directly involved, a person might weigh their responsibility to this nasty relative versus their responsibility to their own self- would it be best to extricate one's self from an altercation in a pleasant way, perhaps helping the other person save face and beat a hasty retreat, if this person is not open to new theories? A swift 'I see we do not agree about this. Please excuse me' might be all that is needed. Or, if one is articulate in times of such stress, one could reel off a well thought out defense of their position/theories, and perhaps the nasty relative and the person can have a discussion and both learn something.

I think that the ability to identify what one really wants is essential in taking one's self seriously as well as taking others seriously- I want to finish typing this message, but if a child needs my attention, even though I might heave a mental sigh at having to leave in the middle of a thought, off I would go because my priority, what I really want, is to be available to that child when child needs my help and attention. I know I can come back to this later, whereas a child fobbed off with promises of 'later' 'just a minute' gets a clear message about mom's priorities. Let me hasten to add that if a parent is engaged in something that is not easily interruptable (though these sorts of things can be done at times when there are others available to help children) or that they are really absorbed in or would like to reach a spot that is more easily interruptable, a child is often willing to help a parent out and wait for them to do so- especially if they know that if it was something really important (by the child's lights) that parent would become available immediately.

I think that self-coercion has some things in common with self-sacrifice, which is another aspect of coercion, though they are not exactly the same thing. We do well to learn to recognize when these things are happening, though, because then we can start to find good solutions to these problems.

Thanks for the discussion!
post #6 of 589
I was wondering if you were susan? Good to see you back!:cool:
post #7 of 589

The dreaded S* word??

Sometimes I wonder whether our 27-month old daughter is too... eek, it's hard to use the word... spoiled. I know dr. Sears insists that "spoiled" is what happens when something is ignored, but I use the word the old-fashioned way by lack of a synonym.

DH and I both work at home, juggling our hours around trips to the park and the store, and squeezing in precious time during nap and sleep. We don't mind the relative lack of money, because we have enough to live by, and don't want to miss anything in these special years. In other words, dd has always had -- almost -- all our undivided attention.

The problem is that she's recently started to throw tantrums. They're not full-blast, but pretty exhausting for all of us. She's always been willful, and that's what we both consider one of her best sides, especially because neither of us really is. We're suckers. Usually, in the course of one of these tantrums we realize that whatever the subject is, it's not really worth it, so we give in (e.g. she doesn't want me to wear the black shoes but the white ones, and I could care less). We've tried to not give in a few times, but then it turns into a battle of wills and I don't want to play those kinds of manipulation games. So I put on the white shoes.

I may need to add that she's very good about serious stuff. She won't touch coffee cups or knives, has never tried to put non-food items in her mouth, and runs for a "safe and protected" hug when a car drives by. So we feel that she has some judgment, and we want to respect her emerging view of the world at-that-moment. After all, we often choose what she wears, too.

Still, being raised rather traditionally myself (and having to deal with my family's slightly derogatory comments about "having to be all different again"), I sometimes fear that she'll become a little monster who'll get her way by screaming. Even though the little voice in the back of my head says she won't.

I guess I just need a little support

We bf more-often-than-I-care-to-count (and besides, I've never seen the point in counting), cosleep messily but happily, get around in the sling (though not very much now that she approaches 30 lbs.), and she's very attached to both of us (even though daddy often has to deal with rejection).

Thanx for reading through this rambling!
post #8 of 589
Thread Starter 
Congratulations on 'having to be all different again' , simonee! Have you taken a look at the non-coercive education and parenting philosophy of Taking Children Seriously? In taking our children seriously, we also have to learn how to take ourselves seriously, and it sounds like you and your dh are going down that road, in finding solutions to problems that you all like- like, working at home which must give you such flexibility to be able to meet your own needs as well as the needs of your child. Sounds wonderful

I (and many others) have found that by having the philosophical underpinnings in mind, about what is bad about causing coercion in my own mind or that of my child (or any other intimate loved one), and learning and thinking about the non-coercive conflict resolution skill of finding common preferences, has opened up a whole new world view with vast quantities of solutions everywhere It is much easier to defend one's beliefs- all the while holding in mind that one is as fallible as the next person, and always looking for better theories than the ones we already hold- when you have some sort of articulation about why you think it is better to do things this way instead of that.

We are all conditioned to accept coercion as a way of life, and breaking out of that is hard! However, reasonable arguments can be made for the dignity of each person, no matter what their age or level of experience. We parents have the privilege and the awesome responsibility to help our children get what they want in life, while also helping our own selves get what we want in life. It takes some mental work to get past the societal memes we have absorbed, about 'can't always get what you want' and 'suffering is good' <ack!> and 'sometimes children just have to learn that they can't have (fill in the blank)' or conversely that 'they have to (do something that they don't want to do)'.

We can jettison the bad memes (self-replicating patterns of information) and disseminate good ones, like 'it is possible to raise children without making them do things they don't want to do, or have things done to them that they don't want' and 'it is ok to want what you want, and it's ok to get what you want'.

I think that children do want to do what is right. Lots of times, I think we adults have a hard time knowing what is right, being mired in our own coercion damaged thinking entrenchments.

Oh, I could ramble on for a long time! (ask anyone here ) The TCS website is www.TCS.ac. You'll find lots of support and assurance that your child will not turn into a little monster if you help hir get what she wants. On the contrary. Why would a person who is respected and helped not learn to respect and help others? Kids need information and experience and access to the world. We parents have lots of that, and are here for our chidlren.

Very best wishes!
post #9 of 589
Simonee - you dd is lucky to have such a caring and attentive mother. I totally understand your concerns. I have 2 and my secound was very attached and insecure when she was young. We held and reasured her a lot and gave her the power to sometime tell us what she was going to do - within reason of course. Now, at age 4 she's pretty wonderfull! She has learned through our compassion for her how to give that to others. She's still quite a tantrum thrower at times - it's all part of her passionate personallity! She's very creative and sometimes has her own idea of how things should be.

I don't beleive that you can 'spoil' a child with attention and meeting their needs. Love and Gentleness are learned behaviors, your setting the example that they will follow.

It's hard to deal with critisism from family, however, I think they'll come around as dd grows and they see how wonderfull she is.
post #10 of 589

Need TCS advice

Larsy or anyone, can you help me out....

I feel like I'm always telling my kids what to do. Yes, I know I'm the parent and I know what's best, but I swear, they don't listen to me anyway.


Take of your PJ's and get dressed so we can go out. They aren't doing anything, so having to stop isn't a problem. They just sit there and ingore me, or go the opposite direction from the bedroom. I have to ask them several times to come and get dressed. Then we have the whole clothing issues...

Get buckled into the car. Get buckled into the car, GET BUCKLED INTO THE CAR. Forget it, I'll just do it for you.

No you can't bring in the toy. No, no, no you can't bring in the toy, because it might get lost. LEAVE THE TOY IN THE CAR!!!

Do you want to ride in the buggy or walk? Ride or walk...ride or walk..ok you're riding, well then, walk..make a decision.

No you can't have a candy. Because we're getting ready to eat lunch. If you eat all your lunch, you can have a candy. No you can't have a candy now...BECAUSE I SAY SO. (the worst).

No we're not playing in the front yard when we get home. Because you don't listen to me and you play to close to the road. No, you can't play in the front, you can play in the back. Oh, the back's not good enough, then how about not playing outside at all?? Do you want to stay in the house?? Ok, so back yard it is.

This is just a sample of my mornings. Everything is a super power struggle. I really would like some alternatives to having to say no all the time, and I also don't want to feel like they are pushing me over and getting their way, even if it's something I don't want them to do.

How do all you TCS moms handle it? Please, don't slam me, I'm truely interested in your opinion. I've read the website, but I'm confused.

post #11 of 589

Could use some help, too...


I'll be very interested in hearing responses to this, as well. While I generally am very flexible with ds and follow his lead, one area I'm struggling with is diapering. Silly, I know, but it's a *big* one here. He HATES to have a diaper on (he's one and is very adamant about his likes and dislikes - just one of the many things I love about him!) Most times around the house, I don't push the issue. If he doesn't want one on, then he doesn't. I let him crawl around naked and sometimes will catch him before he pees, in which case we'll go to the sink or toilet... sometimes not, and then he pees on the ground. No biggie . But sometimes, we have to go somewhere and I really need him to wear a diaper. Then it becomes a power struggle, and I'm not sure how to avoid this one. Of course he doesn't understand the concept "I need you to put on the diaper or we can't go where we need to go" - and I imagine his answer would be "Well, then, let's just not go!" anyway. So, how can this be avoided?

Anyway, sorry for the ramble... I'll be happy to see the answers to your post

post #12 of 589

That is Edie to a T!

I have learned over the past 5 years to make time for this type of behavior. We start getting dressed WAY early so it gets done. We do the extra time thing with food, baths,etc. It kinda works.

Another thing we do is if she wants something her way, she needs to tell me in ADVANCE. NO last minute requests! She loves to choose how we are going to drive home. There are 3 or 4 favorites, and she needs to let me know in advance which way she would like to go. There used to be temper tantrums involved with the drive, but giving her the reigned in choice has worked well.

A timer is a good way to get them going. I set the timer(sometimes) for five minutes (or however long) and she has that amount of time to get dressed, brush her teeth, whatever. Sometimes the timer is a bad thing with her, but most of the time its fun... kinda beat the clock.

Good luck.

post #13 of 589
ooh, you're back Suzan, yay!

You always make me think, even thought I tend to lurk instead of post. So here is a question regarding the coercion issue. I can readily see how coercion can lead to the inability to know what one wants. That was really well explained, thank you! I needed to hear/recognize that today!

You also state that...

"I think this is a lot of what we learn as children when forced to pick up the blocks or clean up our rooms or whatever. Eventually, kids internalize that voice, having learned to force thier selves to do things they don't want to do.
I wonder how we learn to do things that we do not want to do, but that are necessary for survival? For instance, dd does not like to brush her teeth. She would not if she were not made to. However, it is very clear that not brushing her teeth will lead in the long term to ill health.

I was never really "made" to do things like chores too much. As an adult I found that this resulted in a severe handicap, because I didn't learn to do basic things like cooking, and cleaning. I had to spend valuable time learning to do things for myself by trial and error as an adult. I also struggle today with the self discipline to do them. I think these things could have been much easier to learn in childhood. I have had this conversation with other friends I have known since childhood, and they have basically said the same things. The ones who were doing chores and hating it as kids are grateful for it today.

I think sometimes kids don't want to do something because they don't think they can do it as well as mom or dad, or because it isn't convenient, or they are absorbed in something else.

The first one is the easy one, teach them how to do it properly, and make sure you don't judge the results, cause it might be awhile before they can do it as well as you. Self sufficiency is a very valuable tool for self esteem, and I just think it's too important to leave to chance or whim. (i don't feel like cleaning today mom, I may never feel like cleaning....that was me as a kid. Now I recognize the value of having a clean house- it helps my sanity. But it is still hard to muster up the self discipline to do it when I don't want to!)

You say that you can remove yourself from the absorbtion with another task, and respond to the child, which is great! How will they learn to do that as adults, if they are never asked to do that as children? I agree that it is disorienting to kids to be interrupted during deep absorbtion, so perhaps learning how to interrupt it gently is what we need to do. My first challenge is to recognize that state of absorption and facilitate it! Then interruption when necessary, by gentle means.

I kind of took off topic a bit, but I hope you get my drift

Leafy, are you me? LOL I have the same problem...to procrastinate ( thus my presence here) or go to the studio!
post #14 of 589
can someone please post the tcs? site that was referred to? I'd like to read up.
post #15 of 589
Thread Starter 

I totally don't have time right now- someone else wants the computer, but will come back to this when I can
post #16 of 589
Thank you both, Larsy and Ms. Mom. I read some stuff on the TCS site, and then browsed through these boards for more Larsy posts.

Non-coercion is pretty close to what we like to view as "anarchist childrearing" -- not really making rules, but mostly just going with the flow and adapting to the situation. We indeed take Audrey VERY seriously, because it's been clear from day one (and even before that, because she was one heck of a lively fetus) that there was a full load of wonderful and loving character in that little body.

I think it's just hard to let many deeply bred things go, such as the idea that parents know better just because they've been at it for a longer time. I've always believed that our instincts are probably our most accurate and reliable guides in life, and it would make sense that a child's instincts are not nearly as polluted by socialization and conforming as mine are. I generally feel good when we pretty much let her guide her life, and she is indeed well able to understand why certain things (such as diaper changes) cannot be avoided -- while at the same time protesting things that we somehow deem necessary, but that on second thought really aren't (such as choosing between the stroller and the sling, while we can simply bring both).

It's nice to put a somewhat accepted name to our parenting style, especially because the word "anarchist" always seems to evoke associations with socially unacceptable behavior

Again, thanks.
BTW today she said "tacky eaters" for "parking meters." It just cracked me up, especially since we used to live in buffet paradise Las Vegas!
post #17 of 589
Aww nuts larsy,

why do you always find these post b4 me?

Simonee, you have almost exactly described our circumstances, uncanily so. Except that we now have 2 DDs.

But I am stunned that you don't "draw the line" right up to health and safty, rather than at your whim. White shoes, black shoes. Why not let her choose. We let ours from as soon as she was able to indicate a preferance for anything (b4 that actually) and if that meant she went to school in pyjamas, then fine.

And that has not "spoiled" either of our childrem, in spite of the continuous warnings we had from that know no better.

In fact, our children willingly share their last strawberry, help, co-operate with just about everything . . .

There are boundaries, but we should seek to empower our children. Then they know what to do with it when they grow up.

Hope this helps.

post #18 of 589
ditto to what Talapas just wrote. You just wrote everything that I wanted to say, but expressed it much more effectively.
post #19 of 589


I wonder how we learn to do things that we do not want to do, but that are necessary for survival? For instance, dd does not like to brush her teeth. She would not if she were not made to. However, it is very clear that not brushing her teeth will lead in the long term to ill health.

This is a very good question, which intersects with education and the way we do/ought to educate our children.

So, I think I can help answer.

Children are designed through our evolution to survive. This is done by nature endowing certain tools to the human baby. Curiosity is among those at the forefront of our everyday observation. But another equally important one is mimicking, or perhaps that is not quite right, it is the enjoyment of mimicking older people.

Children in the past who failed to properly mimic were not provided with the tools for survival in the environments in which they were living, and thus were more likely to succumb to the dangers of life in the wild. You can see that those children not born with the feature that allows them to enjoy mimicking, die off, leaving those that do to reproduce and strengthen that gene.

This tool of survival, mimicking, is the key to how we can effortlessly provide our children with the tools required to survive in our environment. All we have to do is create a situation in which our children wish to copy us.

Whether it be potty training, brushing teeth, or tidying up, manners, loving and showing affection to one another or reading, children will always strive to emulate their elders.

Hope this helps.

post #20 of 589

Are AP and TCS luxuries?

There have been some very interesting discussions on these boards regarding AP (attachment parenting) and TCS (taking children seriously). I wonder, however, whether use of these methods is a middle class luxury, only possible when parents have a certain minimum amount of free time and low life stress? Is this particularly the case when there is more than one child?

My question stems from personal experience. At the time my first dd was born I had never heard of AP, but I instinctually used many of the AP methods because it just seemed to work the best: cosleeping, babywearing, nursing on demand, focusing on teaching correct behavior rather than punishing “wrong” behavior, etc. Even though dh and I were both graduate students (therefore very poor and under a great deal of stress), I still managed to be deeply connected with dd. We developed a beautiful relationship, and I only rarely raised my voice in frustration – most of the time I could deal with any tantrums or outbursts in a very calm and nurturing way. I could not even imagine using physical violence against a child. In turn, people commented on how sweet and nurturing dd was with her dolls or with other children.

When dd was 4, I became pregnant again, and everything changed. I was vomiting 6-8 times/day and felt weak, miserable and depressed all the time. In desperation I went on medication, which reduced the vomiting to 3 times/day, but I still felt pretty awful. My parenting approach became very authoritarian, and I started barking orders and yelling a lot. After the baby was born, I actually swatted dd about once/day when she did something aggressive toward the baby (which is to be expected, given how she had been treated for nearly a year). During the pregnancy and shortly thereafter, I actually had some incidents like the other Moms Who Say/Do Terrible Things To Their Children In Public who have been excoriated on these boards.

I was very saddened to see what had become of my parenting and of my relationship with dd. I have since been working very hard to restore a more nurturing and respectful approach toward dd. I do find it more challenging to do this now that I have a little baby to attend to, disrupted sleep, etc, but I think for the most part we are healing past mistakes. I think my parenting approach still has that authoritarian edge to it, but we are making progress.

From this experience I wonder whether authoritarian/punitive parenting is really a function of time and stress rather than attitude toward children. Certainly there is a component of learned behavior – we tend to parent the way we were parented unless we make an effort to change. But is it possible to AP/TCS if you are a single parent working two minimum wage jobs to make ends meet – or two parents in the same situation – or a homeless mom trying to figure out how to get shelter and food for her family? Don’t AP and TCS take a certain amount of creativity and time?

Any thoughts anyone?
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