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Is some GD philosophy *too* gentle???

post #1 of 322
Thread Starter 
I feel like there is a time and place to say, "no." ITA that there are lots of other/often better strategies, and I see lots of good suggestions here for those.

But sometimes it seems like there is this prohibition here on ever exerting authority, ever telling a child "no, that is not okay."

I had a thread here awhile back that was super extra amazingly helpful and made all the difference in me changing a dynamic that had developed with my dd where I was power struggling with her.

But I keep thinking about an example I wrote about where we were at the beach, and it was time to go. We climbed the hill to the car and dd turned around and ran back down the hill to the water, despite me telling her no and urging her to come back. It was suggested that she must not have been ready to leave, and I should just resign myself to waiting, to helping her want to leave, time is not a big deal, sometimes part of parenting is being somewhere and wishing like crazy you were somewhere else, etc. One mama suggested she stays at the park even when she really has to pee, if her children are not ready to go yet.

Another time I was trying to get my daughter dressed, as we had to be somewhere. She refused to get dressed and was physically struggling. I tried to distract, convince, etc. Didn't work. Finally I picked her up, put her in my bedroom, told her I was putting her for a time out because she wasn't getting dressed, and walked away. She started to cry, followed me out of the room, and I got her dressed. But I'm sure many here would be horrified by that.

So my question is... is this constant giving, following children's agendas at the expense of our own, not saying "no," never giving a parent-driven consequence to a behaviour... is that mandatory for GD?

And is that necessarily good for children? What is that teaching them? Is it good for kids to get the message that their own needs and desires always come before their mama's/other people's? Is it good for them to never be told "no," or to give up their own desires because someone else's agenda (like mama's agenda to go pee) takes precedence?
post #2 of 322
Wow ITA with you. I'm trying to learn about and embrace GD however I am also having trouble with these issues. Children have to know that the entire world is not going to stop because they "want" to stay at the beach/park etc. While I totally want to be understanding of my DD's wants and needs I want her to understand that there are responsibilities and there are other peoples wants and needs other than her own. Besides the issue of things just being dangerous. No amount of that hurts me will get my dd to stop smacking me in the face.
post #3 of 322
I think you have to strike a balance. For me GD means not disciplining out of anger and frustration but with what is best for my son in mind. For example when it's time to leave the park we're going to go home whether he wants to or not but I would never spank him, yell or be verbally abusive.
I don't think that my son is old enough to know that he needs to leave the park because he's had too much sun, he needs sleep, food, whatever...It's a parents job to take care of their kids and that sometimes means getting them to do things they don't want to.
post #4 of 322
too gentle? nope, imo.
I'm sure there is too hands-off, or being too child-centered. But never too gentle. lol.
The beach thing, I would have picked up ds and left if it was really important to me that we go NOW, and less important to ds that we stay (I vaguely remember the thread). If its between his desires (to stay) and my needs (to pee) I go with my needs. kwim?

Yeah, I gotta say I dislike the timeout for not getting dressed thing. Not being snarky, just honest. I would have just stopped, given him a minute to get his head straight, and for me to chill out. Go get my coffee, or fix my hair or whatever. Then come back and tried again. Ime, it almost always is better the second time around.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama
So my question is... is this constant giving, following children's agendas at the expense of our own, not saying "no," never giving a parent-driven consequence to a behaviour... is that mandatory for GD?
mandatory, no. I think you are bundling up a lot of different things, and putting them in one category. I "give constantly", but I don't follow ds's agenda at the expense of my own. I try very hard to find mutually agreeable solutions that match up with both of our agendas. The more I cooperate with ds, the more he cooperates with me. I don't give consequences for anything. But I am clear about what I am ok with. But all of my limits are REAL limits- ie, don't hit the dog. Don't hit me. Don't throw hard toys.


Quote:
And is that necessarily good for children? What is that teaching them? Is it good for kids to get the message that their own needs and desires always come before their mama's/other people's? Is it good for them to never be told "no," or to give up their own desires because someone else's agenda (like mama's agenda to go pee) takes precedence?
I think it IS good for kids to see parents trying hard to find a solution that works for everybody. To know that their desires matter just as much as mom and dad's. But I don't think its good for dc's needs/desires to come before others' desires. They matter just as much, not more.
Is it good for them to never be told no? No. I definitely have things that I say no to. That directly affect me (or the dogs, who I speak for). Hitting for one. Um, I will go to the bathroom whether he likes it or not, but I try to make it agreeable to him. So I'll suggest getting a book and coming with me. Or that he can sit and play with a toy where he is. Then I go (as long as he's not super upset- if he is, there is something deeper that I need to figure out).

I think you are tying up all these things, that can be separated. You are combining "putting kids desires ahead of all other needs" with "no consequences for behavior" and I just don't see how those are one and the same. They can definitely be separated, and one can use one and not the other.
post #5 of 322
There was recently a thread in Parenting about being selfless that was addressing a similar point. For me, it has gradually changed as DS has gotten older. For the first year, I was the momma waiting to pee. But as his communication skills improved, my needs have shifted. His needs are still first (well, actually, newborn DD's needs are usually first right now), but mine are a closer second.

When I expressed my doubts about how having a second DC would affect my son, my doula said, "You're not raising a child now, you're raising a family." That really changed my viewpoint. DH and I talk a lot about what's working for our family and what isn't.

Oops -- gotta run. Can't wait to read other replies.
-Erin
post #6 of 322
Me three.

I don't understand why some of these kids are hitting, kicking, biting and even spitting on their parents, if all the parents have done is model gentle behavior.

I would like to understand this. And I am NOT criticizing anyone here. I am trying, like everyone else, to do the best for my kids.
post #7 of 322
I can see what you're saying. If I am at the park with the kids & I have to pee badly I DO expect them to understand I have an urgent need & it trumps their wants at that moment. What really irritates me is some people who practice consentual living. Nothing against it, I do it myself! Some, however, take it WAY too far! I heard one mother say she doesn't make her DD (age 2!) sit in a car seat when she doesn't want to because it should be her choice. Um, no. If we have to go we have to go & you WILL be strapped in! I am flexible & take all things into consideration - but there are a very few things I WILL NOT bend on...car seat usage is one.
post #8 of 322
Quote:
Originally Posted by TinkerBelle
Me three.

I don't understand why some of these kids are hitting, kicking, biting and even spitting on their parents, if all the parents have done is model gentle behavior.

I would like to understand this. And I am NOT criticizing anyone here. I am trying, like everyone else, to do the best for my kids.
Because these behaviors are age appropriate & most children will at some point engage in them. Even if mom & dad don't do these things - people at school may, or on TV, etc...
post #9 of 322
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama
So my question is... is this constant giving, following children's agendas at the expense of our own, not saying "no," never giving a parent-driven consequence to a behaviour... is that mandatory for GD?

And is that necessarily good for children? What is that teaching them? Is it good for kids to get the message that their own needs and desires always come before their mama's/other people's? Is it good for them to never be told "no," or to give up their own desires because someone else's agenda (like mama's agenda to go pee) takes precedence?
I'm certianly not an expert on GD, but IMO, no.
It's one thing when they are babies, they have needs that must be attended to right away...sometimes at the expense of whatever you should be doing at the time (going potty, leaving so you're not late, etc.).

IMO letting kids 'get their way' all of the time (yes, I could word that better, but ykwim I think ) is not painting an accurate picture of the world/society for them. Yes, we need to shelter them from alot, but I believe that it does them a great disservice to believe they should get whatever they want whenever they want it.

I'm certianly not suggesting that you force them to do (or keep them from doing) X when they really don't need to, just to teach them that lesson (ala Dobson : ), but they do need to understand that family dynamics have to include everyone's needs.

If we want to raise caring, unselfish human beings, we need to 1st: model it to them, but 2ndly: raise them in a way that they are aware and concerned about other peoples needs and boundaries.

I believe that every parent here desires to raise a strong, emotionally healthy, independant person, whose needs as a child have been met, and they are balanced.
I've seen the results of parenting so that your child gets their every whim fulfilled as far as humanly possible (and a bit farther too ), and from what I've seen it creates a very self-centered person, who things that the world owes them everything, and is totally inconsiderate of others.

Not the type of person I want my children to be.


Just to be clear, I certianly don't mean to offend anyone, and I'm not saying that any parents here are doing this, just my $.02 worth


(ETA: I'm slooow, when I started this there were no other replies )
post #10 of 322
To me GD is not about stopping the world for your child. Natural consequences, consentual living, and communication is how the real world works. Unnatural punishments teach them to obey me. I am not interested in them obeying me forever, I am interested in them learning why, where, when, and how they should act to get their way and be an independant, successful person. For the most part the why, where, when, and hows in our adult lives are not really that dissimilar from a child's.

It is hard to figure out how to satisfy the immediate need to pee while still satisfying the long term need to teach your child to be successful at communication and compromise, but there are definatly a good panel of experienced parents on here to help

Scream at a police officer that you WANT TO SPEED, and see if you get out of the ticket.

Tell the waiter he is a stupid head and needs to bring your food now, see if your food is spit-free.

Tell an employee that he better get his 3rd quarter projects in by friday or he is gonna get a spanking... see if you get sued.

Gentle discipline is real life. It is hard to solve problems in real life, but there are a lot of people here to help.
post #11 of 322
Quote:
Originally Posted by rmzbm
Because these behaviors are age appropriate & most children will at some point engage in them. Even if mom & dad don't do these things - people at school may, or on TV, etc...
Maybe the temperment of the child is a determining factor as well? I have a friend who is terrific and very GD. Her children have never physically attacked her or degraded her by spitting on her. My kids have never hit, spit or kicked me, either. Granted I am not full-on GD and use timeouts as a last resort. (Carseats are not optional.) I also do my utmost to sound and behave gently with my kids.

I just see the posts of mamas whose children hit and kick them and spit on them and my heart just flip-flops. That must be very hard.

Again, just trying to understand.
post #12 of 322
Perfectly said, ShaggyDaddy!
post #13 of 322
Quote:
Originally Posted by TinkerBelle
Maybe the temperment of the child is a determining factor as well? I have a friend who is terrific and very GD. Her children have never physically attacked her or degraded her by spitting on her. My kids have never hit, spit or kicked me, either. Granted I am not full-on GD and use timeouts as a last resort. (Carseats are not optional.) I also do my utmost to sound and behave gently with my kids.

I just see the posts of mamas whose children hit and kick them and spit on them and my heart just flip-flops. That must be very hard.

Again, just trying to understand.
Yes, I understand. My children have never done these things either so - granted - I have no hands on experiance. I agree temperment may play a part. But I do really think alot of these things are just normal "kid phases."
post #14 of 322
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShaggyDaddy
To me GD is not about stopping the world for your child. Natural consequences, consentual living, and communication is how the real world works. (snip)
Gentle discipline is real life. It is hard to solve problems in real life, but there are a lot of people here to help.
ita
post #15 of 322
Quote:
Originally Posted by TinkerBelle

I don't understand why some of these kids are hitting, kicking, biting and even spitting on their parents, if all the parents have done is model gentle behavior.

Because sometimes hitting and kicking and biting are ways of showing emotion that kids don't know how (or dont want to at the moment, or can't find a way to ..) express some other way. I am not saying it's great mind you, but it happens. I am gentle with children (as often as is humanly possible...im not perfect) because I believe it to be the right thing to do, but it isn't necessarily going to produce an always compliant, never aggressive kid.



Regarding the OP:

I think there can be a time for being firm with people, and kids are people too. It's so hard to say what I would have done in your specific situations, because I tend to just rifle through my options with kids on the spot, ya know? I don't have a problem attending to my own physical needs to use the bathroom, and etc. Perhaps we could have gone back for a few minutes after I had gone potty? Maybe we could have decided to do something else she wanted to do after we got home? (Some people call that bribing. I call it planning, and something to look forward to. Who knows? lol )

The getting dressed thing must seriously be something like a required PITA thing parents are required to deal with in toddler/preschool kids. I imagine it's in the great big "Things you must go through as a parent" book somewhere. :eh: Yea it's right up there with that back arching thing they do when they don't want you to put them in a carseat or refusing to eat anything but jelly beans and cheese. I might have tried to make it fun. (I know you did say that you tried stuff, and that's cool.) Maybe wearing ridiculous mismatched stuff and a silly hat, or her pajamas, or a cape lol.

I am not anti time out if it's used as a chance to regroup and chill, but I don't care for it as a punishment. I take care of a 4 yr old little girl who often hits, scratches and takes things from other kids by hurting them. I just gently remove her (the other kid has a right to be safe, etc.) telling her that so and so "doesn't like to be hit/was using that book right now." and often she will do the wild legs and attempt to bite. So we usually go sit somewhere until things are more peaceful. We always talk about how she was feeling, and she's never been in time out "because you didn't do xyz when I asked."
post #16 of 322
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deva33mommy
I don't give consequences for anything. But I am clear about what I am ok with. But all of my limits are REAL limits- ie, don't hit the dog. Don't hit me. Don't throw hard toys.
Not trying to be snarky here at all, really trying to learn

When you say you have real limits but no consequences, how does that work? If he throws a hard toy do you distract? If he goes right back to it do you ever put that toy away (and isn't that a consequense?) Maybe it's a semantics thing, but I don't get how you can have real limits with no consequenses.
post #17 of 322
Gentle Discipline is all about knowing age-appropriate behavior, respecting age-appropriate behavior, and knowing that you have to work with age-appropriate behavior in order to build a long term, respectful relationship with your children.

Here's an example: would any of us ever tell a newborn "sorry that you're hungry - you'll have to wait for your lunch while I go to the bathroom, I'll be back in 10 minutes." Of course not. But people often mistakenly believe that once a child is capable of communicating, they are capable of understanding things the way an adult understands them. That ability takes years and years.

Quote:
So my question is... is this constant giving, following children's agendas at the expense of our own, not saying "no," never giving a parent-driven consequence to a behaviour... is that mandatory for GD?

And is that necessarily good for children? What is that teaching them? Is it good for kids to get the message that their own needs and desires always come before their mama's/other people's? Is it good for them to never be told "no," or to give up their own desires because someone else's agenda (like mama's agenda to go pee) takes precedence?
It would depend on the age of the child. If you are talking about child before the age of 6 then you can try to teach them all you want about "mommy's needs" but it won't sink in. They are not developmentally ready to understand about other people's needs until they are at least 6 (this varies but it is around this age), they are far too egocentric. Even if they *seem* that they are understanding about other's needs by being compliant, they really are not getting it - they aren't capable.

The other thing is this: to you, it appears obvious that you are constantly meeting your children's needs and they therefore can get the message that they come first. But if you look at it through their eyes, they may see it differently. They may be thinking "I wish I had a red dress but mommy picked out a blue one for me" or "I wish I could eat meat but mommy's a vegetarian" or "I wish we had a television" or "I really prefer a three-bedroom house to this two-bedroom." I know that those examples sound ridiculous but the fact is we as parents are controlling every aspect of our children's lives, we make all of the decisions. Our children are powerless so we empower them by giving them some choices during the day. It seems like a lot to us but if you think about every choice that is made in a day, it is the adult who is making most of them.

The bottom line is you have to function in a way that meets your needs or you will become resentful very quickly. I would not hold in pee to let my DD play in the park because I would be extremely resentful of that - it would not be a good choice for me. If somebody else can do it and not resent it, that's great for them.
post #18 of 322
Quote:
When you say you have real limits but no consequences, how does that work? If he throws a hard toy do you distract? If he goes right back to it do you ever put that toy away (and isn't that a consequense?) Maybe it's a semantics thing, but I don't get how you can have real limits with no consequenses.
I know this wasn't addressed towards me, but would like to put my thoughts out there. I don't impose consequences, that sounds like punishment. It is possible to have boundaries and limits just by EXPRESSING them. It is possible to express your wants and needs too as well as listen to your child's. Doesn't mean they will always be respected. But I'm fairly certain my kids wouldn't be any MORE likely to respect limits and personal boundaries IF I WERE TO IMPOSE CONSEQUENCES OR PUNISH THEM WHEN THEY DIDN'T. I think they would be less likely to be respectful if they were not being respected. I am not perfect and I do not expect my children to be. We talk about it when I am disrespectful, snippy, rude, etc, just the same as we talk about it when they are. I have a couple times made the motion to put up a toy that was being thown after I mentioned it could hurt/ damage, saying something like, I'm going to put this up so no one gets hurt and nothing gets damaged. But ds has always asked for it back directly and I have handed it to him. He didn't throw it again. Most of the time just stating what could happen was enough and redirecting to a more acceptable activity, throwing balls or racing the cars that were being thrown.

Quote:
To me GD is not about stopping the world for your child. Natural consequences, consentual living, and communication is how the real world works. Unnatural punishments teach them to obey me. I am not interested in them obeying me forever, I am interested in them learning why, where, when, and how they should act to get their way and be an independant, successful person. For the most part the why, where, when, and hows in our adult lives are not really that dissimilar from a child's.


And as far as consensual living, I do GET that this isn't for everyone. Some people are more comfortable and able to be a better, more relaxed, gentle parent when they are authoritive. Some people are comfortable finding mutually agreeable solutions to some or most things, but not others. ETC ETC ETC. until every type of parent under the sun is mentioned. The way I see consensual IS NOT about putting a child's every need before your own, that just DOES NOT fit the description of consensual in any way shape or form. It is a misconception to see it this way. If someone is living that way I WOULD NOT think of them as living consensually.

Quote:
Yeah, I gotta say I dislike the timeout for not getting dressed thing. Not being snarky, just honest. I would have just stopped, given him a minute to get his head straight, and for me to chill out. Go get my coffee, or fix my hair or whatever. Then come back and tried again. Ime, it almost always is better the second time around.
ITA with this
post #19 of 322
I think "too gentle" is like "too compassionate". No such thing. :

But, having said that, I never equated "gentle discipline" with never saying "no". I do equate it with being respectful, compassionate, understanding, and non-coercive or manipulating, but not with never saying, "no".

I respect my daughter's feelings and I don't assert my dominance just because, but sometimes the answer is "no". I try to remember that adage, "Make your 'no's as kind as your 'yes'es" (or however that goes), but I still use "no".

But really, that's true for dealing with everyone. I have a kind and 'gentle' relationship with my dh and we respect each other and talk things out, try to work as a team, but sometimes we make each other unhappy. I see it as similar with dd. We ARE a team, and we have to do what's best for the team, and if it's time to leave the park because it's late and we are tired and everyone is hungry then, no, we don't sit and suffer because one member of the team is upset that we have to leave.

I think it's a common misconception that gd = never letting the child be upset in any way. that's not very practical. To me, the difference between a gd parent and a non-gd parent might be, for example, that the gd parent understands and 'allows' their child to cry and scream when it's time to leave, maybe with some hugs and reassurances if that helps; whereas a non-gd parent would be more likely to coerce/manipulate ("Stop crying and I will give you some candy.") or punish ("Stop crying or I will give you something to cry about.").

It's not that gd = letting the kid dictate how long you stay, it's how you deal with the issue of needing to leave.

Hope that made sense.
post #20 of 322
yes.

sometimes i feel like the discipline or lack thereof promoted here is just not reality. In truth, I have used GD in the past, and things were totally out of control. What works for us is consistent, immediate discipline....quickly done, but quickly over. It is just little reminders along the way of what is and isnt acceptable in our house...

I remember maybe last year sometime I actually read a mom on here say that If her child wasnt causing more than $20 in property damage she just let him run. WTC???????????? Are you kidding me?? So...lets say he does only $19 worth of property damage 5 times a day...geez. yeah right!

I think the prevailing theme is to let them be kids no matter the cost, and not to upset them, and just dont mess with their worlds. It just isnt reality.

And it doesnt work alot of times. How many times do you see parents posting begging for help b/c suddenly their 3 or 4 or 6 yr old is angry and fighting? hateful in their attitudes and words, and their spirits. That is not good fruit from GD...That is a child crying out for boundaries. A Child frustrated by lack of discipline.

In our home, We HAVE to discipline. There is no way around it.

Yes, I feel frustrated when I come here, and read about GD.
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