or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › By George, I think I got it!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

By George, I think I got it!

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
New member here, and I think that I can finally articulate what GD is, thanks to some gangbuster threads!

So, if we diagram the spectrum of parenting styles, the simplified version would look like this:

Authoritarian........................GD........... .............Laissez Faire

Authoritarian--Gets a child to act a particular way by using force (punishments, imposed consequences) or emotional manipulation (shaming, praise that makes them dependent on it). Uses rules that seem arbitrary to the child. Fails to help child internalize why certain actions are "incorrect," and often alienates the child.

Laissez Faire --Allows a child to feel and act anyway they want, and supports all their choices. Does not use rules. Fails, though, in giving children tools to act in ways society finds appropriate or in ways that are constructive. Child often feels loved, but not guided.

GD--Gives the child the freedom to feel the whole gamut of emotions, but equips them with tools (through modeling, open communication, natural consequences?, playful parenting) to behave in ways that are constructive and socially acceptable. Uses principles to help child learn how to behave.

I'm quite open to refinements/corrections/challenges/etc. if I'm off base. I’m aspiring to someday (hopefully, soon!) be as good a GD parent as all of you! You all are my heros!
post #2 of 14

Re: By George, I think I got it!

Hi HunnyBunnyMummy,

I like your summary of the different styles of parenting but I would add one thing to your diagram.

Authoritarian........................GD........... .............Laissez Faire

Parent wins....................Parent wins..................Parent Loses
Child loses......................Child wins.................... Child wins

By wins and loses I'm talking about conflicts. In the Authoritarian method it is the parents way with any thought into what the children want or need. In the Laisssez Faire method the child rule without any thought to what the parents want or needs. In GD you try to find a compromise that satisfies the wants and needs of both parents and children.

The idea above is from Parents Effective Training. The book explains what you summarized in a detailed and in an easy to read manner. It also explains how to negoitate problems so that everyone wins.

Thank you for starting this thread. I hope it generates alot of discussion.

post #3 of 14
Check out TCS (taking children seriously) as well. On their web-site they discuss Laissez Faire parenting.
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Here I was thinking that I came up with the label "Laissez Faire parenting"! :LOL Shows how much reading I've done on parenting...

And AnnasMominPA, that seems like an important addition. In all other close relationships (marriage, friendship, etc) we seek win-wins, why not also with our children? Guess it is just another way we are modeling how mature relationships should work.
post #5 of 14
I don't think that differences are one dimensional, as you're representing them. I also don't think that GD is different in all ways from both L-F (permissive) parenting and from Authoritarian parenting. I would place the 2 main dimensions as limit setting (high or low) and responsiveness (high or low, or in between) and so my diagram would look like this:

High Responsiveness

permissive Gentle discipline
Authoritative parenting

Low limit-setting <---------------------------------> High Limit setting

neglectful parenting authoritarian parenting

Low Responsiveness

Sorry, my diagraming skills are not that great. but I do think that the difference between GD and authoritarian styles is that authoritarian parents are not very responsive to their children's feelings about the limit setting and prefer obedience to arbitrary rules rather than mutual problem solving. And that the difference between GD and permissive parents is that permissive parents just dont' set limits, or they set limits ineffectively. Neglectful parents neither set limits nor respond to their children.

Authoritative parenting is probably the same as GD, but GD sounds better


edited to say that my diagram did not come out at all as planned. Imagine a plus sign where the horizontal line is limit setting and the vertical line is responsivenss. There are 4 quadrants: permissive parenting in the upper left, GD and authoritative in the upper right, authoritarian in the lower right, neglectful in the lower left.
post #6 of 14
Well, I have no idea where I fall on some of these charts.

I am HIGH limit setting and Moderate in my "responsivness" ( I will "listen" to how my child (under age 11) feels about limits and may change my mind, but it is NOT a negotation.

I do not threaten, bribe or punish . I do enforce some logical consequence to protect the person or property of themselves or others, but otherwise I don't.

I will tell my child I don't like their behavior but not that they are "bad" or that I am "sad" or "hurt" by it.

I am not sure where I fall, but consider myself GD!
post #7 of 14
I like HBM's model.

I've never felt like the Authoritative thing fit what I do, though... and I think the emphasis on limit-setting misses the point. I can set limits on myself, and on things that have an impact on me. I'm totally comfortable saying things like, "I'm too tired to read to you now", for example, usually coupled with "but you can listen to a Jim Weiss tape, the noise won't bother me." I take care of myself and I'm honest about my feelings and expect them to carry weight (as do my child's feelings, of course).

On the other side, I don't feel right about setting limits on things that don't impact me, like bedtimes or coloring on oneself or coloring on one's blocks or hair dye or ear piercing. I respect my child's right to set limits in her own world, too, so if I ask her to fold some laundry or load the dishwasher, she really can say no. She rarely does, because our family values working together and cooperation, but she can, if she's tired or not feeling well or just not in the mood.

And I like how HBM (can I use that nickname? Much shorter) emphasized the intercative nature of GD, or giving kids the tools they need to make good decsions and live happily in the world. That's an important piece, and I think it tends to be overlooked.


post #8 of 14
Thanks for all your summaries of GD vs. other forms of discipline. I'm just startin gto have to think about discipline with my 14 month old. Your posts are really helpful.
post #9 of 14
Neat discussion.

I've always struggled with getting people to understand the difference between "permissive parenting" (which I believe is HBN's "laissez-faire" category), and GD.

Those of you who heard Alfie Kohn on the Diane Rehm show heard her other guest (author of some book loaded with reward charts) say that classic studies on parenting style broke them down into three categories. Authoritarian used punishment, withdrawal of affection, cold style...authoritative used punishments, but also praise and affection...permissive parents used no punishment (but they used no "anything"; they just didn't do anything). Authoritative won (in terms of best adjusted kids) and this seems to be the justification for all the timeouts and reward chart stuff being peddled today. As in, if you are a loving parent it's okay to use punishments sometimes. Of course, the problem with this classification is that those of us who don't punish don't necessarily fall into the permissive category, but that is where this system places us. And as Kohn pointed out, meta-analyses showed that the use of punishments/rewards was not the deciding factor in the Authoritative parents' success.

Anyways, the point of all this is that permissive parenting, or LF parenting means, to me, that there is NO discipline. There is no attempt to model, to shape, to guide, to help the children learn...the kids are alone, abandoned in a sense. This is SO different from the type of discipline I practice, which is punishment-free, and seeks to limit the limits (ha ha). But I am so active all day in helping my kids through situations, teaching them problem solving (with the older one at least), teaching them socially acceptable behaviours (like sharing, how that works, etc)....this is most definitely Discipline. So I think there are GD'ers who do use logical consequences, set more limits, etc...and those who have as few limits as possible and who use no forms of punishment/consequences. We're all GD, but I think we have our own little spectrum that falls within the bigger spectrum of "authoritarian vs. permissive".
post #10 of 14
I took one *whole* summer class of Child Psych and what GD sounds like is authoritative parenting: the diagram would look the same as OP, with GD being replaced by autoritative parenting.

I don't have my textbook and just woke up from a 1st trimester nap, so bear with me

Authoritative Parenting lets the children determine their own actions (disipline sp) when "in trouble". The parent isn't "in control of" the child but rather a "mentor to" the child. Does this make sense? If I look at GDing as Authoritative Parenting (but use GD, because the other is hard to spell with a foggy mind!), I think I would have an easier time accepting it .

Thanks for this thread! i think it cleared things up for me as well!
post #11 of 14
I think Piglet is right that there is a spectrum within GD.

On one end are those (like me) who are fairly Authoritative in that we set limits and don't do alot of negotiation. But unlike mainstream Authoritative parents we don't feel the need to achieve those limits with rewards or punishment.

On the other end is TCS.

I think most here fall somewhere inbetween these two.
post #12 of 14
I think I'm quite close to maya

I am definitely a GD mom, however I am not smack on the nose of GD in the diagrams..I shade a bit over into the Authoritative spot in that I do enforce the limits set by us as parents. I do not believe in punishing or bribing, but I do believe in being in a leadership position (not controlling mind you) in that they do need to do as I ask and I do enforce that they do.

I do listen to them, they can express how they feel at any time, however that does not mean I will negotiate on things that I feel they need to abide by.
post #13 of 14
I don't see what I do as Authoritative Parenting. Here is some of Baumrind's original description of the authoritative parent...
to direct the child's activities but in a rational issue-oriented way. She [the parent] encourages verbal give and take, and shares with the child the reasoning behind her policy...she exerts firm control at points of parent-child divergence...She uses reasoning as well as power to achieve her objectives
So this is a parent who explains the rules she makes and limits she sets, but she's still making the rules. She encourages "verbal give and take", but it's still about her objectives, and if the child has another POV she's exerting "firm control". That's not what I do.

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your responses! I've just gotten a slew of the recommended parenting books, but it is helpful to already have a framework to use when processing them.

I agree that there is a spectrum within GD, and lifetapestry you created an interesting model. (But I confess, Maya, that I'm not as comfortable with moderate responsiveness, although part of that could be because of my personality. Still think you are one mom, though!)

Dar: The nickname HBM works for me. (Good thing the "h" is there, huh?) I agree with your points about setting limits--with the expection placing limits on hurting oneself or others, dh and I are all for letting kids have control over their world. Personally I think that modeling goes a long, long way. I've found that I've incorporated my parents' lifestyle and beliefs just by growing up with them--none of the (infrequent) spankings made me, for example, be a hard worker just like my mom.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Gentle Discipline
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › By George, I think I got it!