I thought "no punishment" sounded great until I got a kid who decided that her mission in life was to push push push push push push push push push the limits as far as she could and bend bend bend bend bend bend bend bend bend the rules as far as they could be bent. And then push and bend a little more. A child who, at just turned four, tells me (after I just watched her throw something at her brother) that she didn't "throw" it, she "frizzled" it, and frizzling is different than throwing. A child who, after spending the first three years of her life getting a say in practically everything, has decided that her say should be the final say in absolutely everything. A child who probably has a better developed vocabulary than I do and who isn't interested in participating in a conversation about behavior.
My daughter is a wonderful, smart, extraordinarily funny and very persistant child who will outlast me on just about every issue. I do not have the patience to explain to her fifty times in two days why she shouldn't throw things at her brother, scream at me, yank things out of people's hands, or take out twenty toys, leave them on the floor, and seek me out in another part of the house to annouce "I am not going to clean up my toys!" My daughter does not
have impulse control problems and she has a memory 500 miles long. When my daughter deliberately does something she knows she is not supposed to do, there are consequences, or punishments as others would like to call them. My daughter does not respond well to talking about why she should or shouldn't do something, how it makes others feel, or what the theoretical outcomes might be. She responds to concrete limits, clear consequences, and ACTION.
We are gentle with our child. We do not scream, yell, jump up and down, or berate her. We do not say rude things, call her names, or try to make her feel small. We do, however, mean what we say when we set a limit, and we follow that limit up with consequences when she intentionally steps over the line. I believe that a limit with no action behind it is a desire, not a limit.
No one will ever convince me that the natural state of parenting is for kids not to have firm consequences to their actions, nor will I believe that all children will respond best to a certain way of parenting. There is too much diversity in people's temperments for me to believe that.
Oceanbaby, you are a very thoughtful mom and it is obvious that you love your son and want what is best for him. What is best for him might be very different than for another mom's kid, who might have a very different temperment. Parent in the way that is best for your son, the way that produces the results you want, both for you AND him, not the way that other people on some discussion board who have probably never met and don't live with your son think is best.
Thus officially ends Dharmamama's participation in the GD board. Many of you will probably be glad to get rid of me.
As they used to say in my high school, "So long, farewell, it's been real, it's been fun, but it hasn't been real fun!"
ETA: Because I know how hyper-sensitive people can be about this issue, I wanted to clarify that in addition to not screaming at, yelling at, or berating our daughter, we also do not hit/smack/spank her.