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#1 of 173 Old 12-16-2005, 07:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know that several people here strive to be completely non-coercive in their parenting - not trying to direct, change, shape, coax, reward or punish, force, or otherwise make their child be any particular way. I know that several people here have particularly mentioned not ever doing anything to their child by physical force.

What I'd like to know is, when did you start? At what age? Is it possible to parent an infant non-coercively?

I was thinking about the various non-coercion threads as I woke up with my 8-month-old daughter this morning, and I started counting the number of times I coerced her. She didn't want her diaper changed, and cried, but I changed it anyway. On the second diaper change, she'd gotten poop on her undershirt, so I completely undressed her and put on a clean undershirt. She hates getting dressed right now, and it upset her. As she crawled around the room, I physically picked her up and moved her away from a very interesting power cord just as she was about to find out whether it was tasty. I washed her face (covered with applesauce and snot), and later wiped her nose (much more snot), although each time she protested vigorously. It's pretty much an ordinary day with a baby, I would have thought.

Of course I do whatever I can to make these things less upsetting - giving her a special toy while she's on the changing table, doing as much of the clothes change as possible while she's sitting or standing because it's the lying-down that she objects to most, singing a silly song for washing face and hands, playing a game that involves nose-touching in hopes that it will desensitize her to having it wiped. And I always explain why we're doing what we're doing, and acknowledge her feelings. But it all comes down to this, in the end: I'll make those things happen even if she doesn't want them to.

If you consider yourself to be a non-coercive parent, how would you handle these issues with an infant? Would you not do these things if your baby objected to them? What are the non-coercive alternatives?

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#2 of 173 Old 12-16-2005, 07:40 PM
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I don't know exactly and I am not ashamed to admit that! We have never had that issue with our daughter who is a little over 6 months. I mean, I guess we could have, or have begun to, but I have always stopped and disengaged when she has done that. For instance, if I am about to change her diaper and she gets upset, I will simply stop. I redo the diaper or whatever and just tell her mama isn't going to force her to have her diaper changed. She usually calms right down and then when I try again, she is cool with it. Now I don't know how much she understands really, but somewhere I think she *gets* that when she gets upset, I will stop doing whatever it is that is upsetting her.

If she gets stuff all over her face and I am attempting to wipe it and she cries, I stop. I tell her that I would like to clean her face off , but I will not force her. Same thing again. Usually if I just stop and say "okay, mama doesn't have to wipe your face now" she somehow *gets* that she can decide (through her reaction) whether I am going to do something or not.

I found that was what worked with the carseat too. When she was younger, she didn't dig that thing at all and sometimes my husband and I would have to stop like 5 times on a 10 minute drive home, but every time she cried, we would stop and soothe her and then she got to the point where she doesn't cry at all in the seat. Now I can't say if that is what did it, but it was a real coincidence. I think babies are very intuitive. I think that although our daughter can't communicate in words yet, she knows that when she expresses upset at a situation, we stop what we are doing and won't force her to do something she doesn't want to do.

I know there are a world of what ifs and I am sure we will cross that bridge when we come to them, but for now that is what works for us. To us, the world isn't going to spin off its axis if she has a dirty face for like an hour ya know (I am not saying yours does!) I am just saying that just because she doesn't seem to be into doing something at the moment, doesn't mean you can't revisit it in a few minutes, or later or whatever and she how the response is then.

Now our daughter gets that she doesn't have to have something done to her that she doesn't like...we have *stopped* so many times,she knows that we will if she wants us to, so her protests with certain things have become so much less now that she feels *empowered* in that way.
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#3 of 173 Old 12-16-2005, 07:45 PM
 
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Very interesting! Captain Crunchy, what about when she's headed for something dangerous? Do you consider distraction okay? What if she's got poop leaking out all over the place? Would you consider giving her a toy to get her to stop crying while you changed her?

Rivka, thanks for starting this thread, I've wondered about this stuff too!

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#4 of 173 Old 12-16-2005, 08:04 PM
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Non manipulative redirection is not coercion to me, and giving her a toy that stops her from crying wouldn't be considered coercion because it is my understanding that the toy redirects her, but she still knows her diaper is being changed...and agreeing to it...without me forcing or threatening or holding her down or bribing (with a slightly older child) or whatever...

I don't think any non-coercive parent here has ever said they simply try no other alternative. Playful parenting or engaging your child in something to help an activity become pleasurable and thus, voluntary, is not coercion...to me anyway.

The point is voluntary, without bribes or threat or shame or manipulation, or force. I think this can be accomplished.

Truthfully, yes, I would rather have poop leaking out of my daughter's diaper for a short while than to have a screaming, terrible power struggle where I forced my will upon her...it just isn't worth it to me -- but I don't know many children or babies who revel in rolling in their own sh*t all day...most babies do enjoy a fresh diaper in my experience.

As far as dangerous situations, we plan on babyproofing as much as possible to avoid danger, possible power struggles and frankly, make it easier on us and create many more *yes* situations than ones where we are put in the position of choosing between a coercive method or our daughter being hurt. It just makes things so much easier imo....
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#5 of 173 Old 12-16-2005, 08:46 PM
 
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Well with an infant you just do what you need to do. I didn't ask my 6 week old if she wanted to wear the red sweater or the yellow one, but I did ask her when she was 18 months. I didn't ask my 6 month old if he wanted a bath in the morning or the evening, but by the time he was 2 he was definately capable of sharing his thoughts. As they got older and started communicating their thoughts more I just started paying attention more. It's a gradual, living thing really... that evolves from day to day and year to year.

I think redirecting is okay. Making your environment child friendly is helpful but not always possible (visiting others, etc). Thinking outside the box regarding what is usually seen as acceptable and what isn't when it comes to kids is a big thing. Like if a child wants to wear his socks in the bath...why not? If he'd rather have a jelly sandwich instead of dinner why not? and so on.

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#6 of 173 Old 12-16-2005, 08:49 PM
 
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We have always done exactly as Captain Crunchy described also. Not imposing care against obvious protest, and revisiting the needed care with distraction, or delighting our son into agreement, if you will. At 5-6 months he was communicating that his diaper was wet. At 7 months he was specifically signing to nurse.

I consider Trust to be like a ladder. The child tests and tests until they Trust that a parent is going to react consistently, not unlike testing the rungs on a ladder. If a rung is not trustworthy, one must retest each time before one can progress to trusting that the ladder will support them every rung, every time. We ALWAYS answered every cry or protest as immediately as possible, and our son just didn't need to keep testing after some point. And then he would ride in the carseat, let a diaper be changed, allow his face to be washed etc. as needed. And if it wasn't necessary, it was not done. We had no life threatening issues that "had to" be imposed either.

We babyproofed and redirected, distracted, engaged, delighted and that worked for us. I have never observed our child attempt anything life threatening. We also had many, many unfettered excursions to the park, the mall, the grocery, the Walmart, the Nature Museum, etc. where the object was to explore, rather than "accomplish". Just as he had many unfettered explorations around the house with supportive facilitation, so that the world has not been a forbidden fruit. Together we explored safely, with information on how to understand specific dangers without fear. My "motto" has been "to nurture a healthy emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual foundation from which to explore the world without fear".

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#7 of 173 Old 12-16-2005, 08:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Captain Crunchy, it's great that you've found a method that works with your daughter. I hope it keeps working as she gets older and more independent - I remember clothing and diaper changes being a lot easier two months ago, but maybe that's just a haze of nostalgia for the pre-crawling days. :-)

Alex is usually quickly reconciled to these things she doesn't want to do - it's usually just the initial protest. She may cry when I pick her up and lie her down to be changed, but by the time her diaper is off she is absorbed in her toy, and by the end of the change she may even be clapping and smiling. Or, she may be desperately sleepy - rubbing her eyes, pushing her face into my leg, bursting into tears at the slightest setback - but she'll still cry when I pick her up and put her in the sling. Then 30 seconds later she is content, eyes drooping, and two minutes later she's asleep.

I do try to let as much go as possible. I don't mind if she goes for a few hours with sweet potatoes in her eyebrows, for example, but I want to clean big rivers of snot up immediately. I have no objection to her pulling my books off the shelves and handling them, but I'll stop her before she rips any pages out. If I try the sling for a nap and she still looks completely awake after a few minutes, I'll assume I was wrong about the sleepiness cues and put her back down to play - but if she's fussing and complaining with closed eyes and diminished movements, I'm going to keep right on with my soothing-to-sleep routine, over her (weaker and weaker) protests.

I wonder how non-coercive mamas handle "nursing strikes." It seems like the general opinion at MDC is that a 10-month-old who stops showing interest in nursing doesn't really mean it, and needs to be convinced otherwise. But thats definitely coercion.

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#8 of 173 Old 12-16-2005, 09:34 PM
 
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Ummm....we never had anything resembling a nursing strike. Ds nursed every 1-2 hours all day and all night until 18 months old and then started sleeping for a 2-3 hour stretches. (After devoting myself to the "No Cry Sleep Solution" bible.) He is a very oral child and highly sensitive. So he nursed for comfort a significant amount. Occasionally, there is a exploratory lapse at 10-14 months when they become able to explore farther from mama.

You might consider pumping during any declines of interest, in order to create a back up supply for any possible separations. But, I would just offer frequently, whenever it was likely to be agreeable to her. There are certainly pros and cons to that phase of natural weaning arround 1 year; but mostly, I think they just make up for the nursing at night. Of course, you can relactate even up to months after weaning, so I wouldn't worry too much. In a couple of vigorous days (like during an illness), the milk would re-establish.

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#9 of 173 Old 12-17-2005, 12:57 AM
 
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It's been a while since I have had babies (my dds are 6 and 8) but we did what CC described. We didn't change the diaper of a crying baby, we didn't wipe their face if they didn't want it wiped. We used games, songs, engagement to make those tasks fun and just waited it out when necessary. I don't think distraction is coercion, I think it is just offering something they want more than say the power cord.

My kids started using signs around 7 months and it really helped with our communication.

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#10 of 173 Old 12-17-2005, 01:15 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rivka5
Or, she may be desperately sleepy - rubbing her eyes, pushing her face into my leg, bursting into tears at the slightest setback - but she'll still cry when I pick her up and put her in the sling. Then 30 seconds later she is content, eyes drooping, and two minutes later she's asleep.
Well, is that just her way of complaining? Or is she protesting what you're doing? My ds doesn't really "cry" all that often, except when he bonks , but he does do a little protesting noise to let me know I need to change things. It usually doesn't get to a cry, except that lately he's been sick and very edgy.

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#11 of 173 Old 12-17-2005, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by natensarah
Well, is that just her way of complaining? Or is she protesting what you're doing?
I suppose it could just be an "I hate the world!!" cry, except that she also arches her back and makes it hard to get her into the sling. Then, instantly, once she's in and settled she's glad to be there.

I think she just has a hard time with transitions, actually. We have all kinds of little routines, songs, and games set up to make transitions easier, like a song for the moment during her bath when it's time to lie down and have her hair washed, and a little tickling game for getting out of the bathtub. They help a lot, but she will still protest initially. I need to come up with something for getting into her snowsuit - that's the new big stress.

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#12 of 173 Old 12-17-2005, 12:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Rivka5
I think she just has a hard time with transitions, actually. We have all kinds of little routines, songs, and games set up to make transitions easier, like a song for the moment during her bath when it's time to lie down and have her hair washed, and a little tickling game for getting out of the bathtub. They help a lot, but she will still protest initially. I need to come up with something for getting into her snowsuit - that's the new big stress.
Have you tried the Hokey-Pokey? That's a favorite around here for getting dressed, undressed, into car seats, etc. My ds has this "bunny suit", as my dh calls it, and I have to pull out all the stops to get him in it. It's like a Broadway production.

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#13 of 173 Old 12-17-2005, 01:30 PM
 
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I don't see the difference between the semantics of a child without articulation skills who "dissents", "complains", or "protests" and ultimately acquiesces or submits because there is no other choice. The intention of non-coercion is not to eliminate choice and gain compliance by default. But to find an agreeable alternative that doesn't create dissent, complaint, nor protest due to the activity.

When something is *done to* someone, the choice of refusal in our family is honored. Refusal comes in plenty of comprehensible ways, even from pre-verbal children.

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#14 of 173 Old 12-17-2005, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by scubamama
I don't see the difference between the semantics of a child without articulation skills who "dissents", "complains", or "protests" and ultimately acquiesces or submits because there is no other choice. The intention of non-coercion is not to eliminate choice and gain compliance by default. But to find an agreeable alternative that doesn't create dissent, complaint, nor protest due to the activity.

When something is *done to* someone, the choice of refusal in our family is honored. Refusal comes in plenty of comprehensible ways, even from pre-verbal children.

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#15 of 173 Old 12-17-2005, 04:21 PM
 
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I don't see the difference between the semantics of a child without articulation skills who "dissents", "complains", or "protests" and ultimately acquiesces or submits because there is no other choice.
It seemed to me that the pp was making the distinction between a child who is protesting what is being done to them, and a child who is just "complaining" that they are tired (or grumpy, or whatever), but is completely ok with what is being done to them. Just what I thought when I first read what you are referring to.

OP, I'm not non-coercive, but I'm low coersion (I'm realizing that it's 2 different worlds though. Different philosophies. When you're "low coersion" you're not *almost* "non-coersive" kwim? Kinda like the difference between "non-punitive" and "almost never punish" imo).
Anyways, in most of the situations you described, I would deal with it similar to Captain Crunchy does. When ds has pooped, and needs his diaper changed (he's 16 mos, but we've been doing similar things for a while) I sit by the changing pad and tell him he's pooped, and needs a clean dry diaper. I give him some time, and he generally comes to me. Sometimes if he doesn't, I get him and bring him over, but if he protests, I just try again in a few minutes (a few minutes really does wonders). Oh, he also has a Tigger toy that "talks" to him about diaper changes. I bounce him on his chest, and make him kiss him. And he loves it. LOVES it.
That's how we do most of our day. Even usually stuff that he gets into that will make a mess. Like if he decides to play in the plant dirt (which he's only done a couple of times). I tell him that it's not really to play with, and that it makes a mess that I have to clean up. I may suggest another activity. Then I leave it at that. If he stays to play in the dirt, I may try to suggest another (at least somewhat related, hopefully) activity in a few minutes. Same with playing in the dog's water. I tried for a long time to stop that, but I found the best thing for us was just to tell him that if he plays in the water, he'll get wet, and there will be water on the floor (which he HATES when theres water on the floor lol). He doesn't play in it near as much anymore- not that I'm saying that's why lol.
And oh, he loves looking in the fridge. He'll stay there forever. I was trying to find ways to make him stop "ok, in just a minute, we have to close the door," but I recently, in the last couple weeks, I decided to just not say anything. Just trust that he's not going to stay there forever lol. (I don't really give him information, because he already *knows* kwim). Sure enough, he's playing in the fridge less and less time. And leaving and shutting the door when he does.
I just need to learn to trust that he WILL do the "socially acceptable" thing, if he is capable (has the info, the control, and all needs met). I believe that, but trusting it is hard sometimes, seeing as how we, as a society, are conditioned to believe that kids will try to "get away" with anything you let them.!

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#16 of 173 Old 12-17-2005, 05:17 PM
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I just need to learn to trust that he WILL do the "socially acceptable" thing, if he is capable (has the info, the control, and all needs met). I believe that, but trusting it is hard sometimes, seeing as how we, as a society, are conditioned to believe that kids will try to "get away" with anything you let them.!
You know I think that is a really valid point. It really is difficult to change your way of thinking. I know it is for me, coming from a VERY punitive upbringing with a mother who has strong opinions on how children are fully capable of intentionally being "bad" and such...coupled with the fact that between the two, I was far, far more the independant, questioning, *spirited* child compared to my sister who was really easygoing and agreeable -- so I feel as though I had more punishment and force heaped on me because I wasn't like that.

Anyway, sorry to veer off. I just think that when you are raised in a society, or a family that truly believes that children do or don't do things just to be *bad* or where they need to be *controlled* or *know where their place is* or where you are told to *be the parent* (which means, be in control)...-- and especially if those situations have led to trust issues (which I have) -- it is hard to wrap your head around a different perspective where you have to be willing to let go and trust and be willing to feel at ease with not being "in control" ....and get to a place where any given situation isn't being approached as one where someone has to "win" or be taught a lesson, or punished -- where you strive in every day life peacefully with your child and within the family and beyond without the use of coercion.

I am just so glad I came to this before I had our daughter, because I do think it would be more difficult (not impossible though!!) if you have a family dynamic of coercion already in place.
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#17 of 173 Old 12-17-2005, 05:56 PM
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My daughter didn't want to lie down at all, from maybe 8 to 18 months. I changed diapers with her standing up (for poopy ones, she stood in the tub and played in the water). I washed her hair in the sink, or with the handheld shower dealie, and she sat or stood. It took more time, and I tried to get most of the shampoo out with a wet washcloth first, because I had to do it very carefully.

Clothing was optional. Facewashing didn't have to be done right away, and by 8 months she preferred to wash her own face - she didn't always do a great job, but if I handed her a warm, wet washcloth to do it she was usually okay with me "helping" a bit.

I actually found non-coercion easier infants than with older kids, FWIW...

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#18 of 173 Old 12-17-2005, 07:32 PM
 
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Rivka, Thanks so much for starting this thread! I've been wondering the same thing with my 10 month old! I've been changing his diaper standing up for the past month or so to make it less torturous for him, while giving him something to play with or chew on. We also do part-time EC, and he's been making it clear lately when he DOES NOT want to pee in the toilet, so I don't force it even though I know he has to go.

Getting him into clothes does feel like child abuse lately, so I've been postponing it, doing it in stages, and explaining and empathizing while I do it (hey, I'D rather not get dressed either!).

My biggest hang-up is the snotty nose, especially since our whole family's health has been compromised since Thanksgiving. We just seem to be passing our sick germs back and forth. He'll have snot in his nose that's obviously bothering him and he's trying to get it out on his own to no avail. I try to help but he hates that! Yet I don't know what's worse for him -- having snot in his nose that he can't get out or having me try to help him get it out. (I never thought I'd be so caught up in baby-snot!)

So, my policy is: if the snot is really bothering him (as evidenced by crying and repeated attempts to get it out) I'll "help" him get it out. He does seem relieved once it's out. And if the snot isn't bothering him I'll leave it alone (until he's sleeping or something ).

Anyway, my point is that these threads have really made me take a good look at how to avoid being coercive to my little one. Really, they've helped me validate my own instincts. Coercion doesn't feel good and our babes are so good at reminding us of this!

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#19 of 173 Old 12-17-2005, 10:43 PM
 
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(hi kate!!)

Rivka, I want to thank you for starting this thread too...it's excellent food for thought for me with 8 month old dd. I know that I try to minimize needless suffering for her whenever possible...I feel this is my job as her mama and because I love her. But I've been at a loss for things that seem to 'have to' be done. This thread has given me some great ideas for ways to be less coercive, more respectful & more loving of this bright spirit. We too have been 'wrestling' with the best way to clear out her nose (which she HATES) cut her nails (I now do this when she's asleep) and put on her snowsuit. Great to hear ideas and similar thoughts from other maams.
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#20 of 173 Old 12-18-2005, 12:03 AM
 
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My I ask...and forgive me if I sound dumb...but WHY?

Why raise a child with no coersion at all?

What is the message that you hope to impart? How do you expect this to create the adult you hope they will be? What is the goal?

I don't want to start the "do you have to" debate again but I do think that most of us feel that we are coerced in our jobs, in our lives, in our place in society...sure we make choices but we have negative consequenses (coersion) attacheched to those choices so I wonder...what does raising children in a womb of noncoersion teach them about dealing with what life will bring?

I mean this in all honesty. I don't get it.

I try not to impose my will on my kids "just because" and I too will usually let a dirty diaper lie rather than fight a toddler to change it...but I promis that when the poop starts creaping out I will coerce to get that dirty diaper off I do however generally think that at every point the thing I need to do is decide if this is the fight I want to take on- is this really worth it? I think a lot of battles parents choose to pick are probobly not worth fighting.
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#21 of 173 Old 12-18-2005, 12:17 AM
 
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I actually found non-coercion easier infants than with older kids, FWIW...
I could for sure see that. I pretty much make everything a fun experience for my ds, and it's easy to do so. Babies are just so agreeable, at least mine are. If he starts to make the sad voice while I'm changing him, I can just make this silly suction cup noise and he erupts in laughter. If only everyone were so easily entertained...

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#22 of 173 Old 12-18-2005, 01:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I know it is for me, coming from a VERY punitive upbringing with a mother who has strong opinions on how children are fully capable of intentionally being "bad" and such... [...]

Anyway, sorry to veer off. I just think that when you are raised in a society, or a family that truly believes that children do or don't do things just to be *bad* or where they need to be *controlled* or *know where their place is* or where you are told to *be the parent* (which means, be in control)...-- and especially if those situations have led to trust issues (which I have) -- it is hard to wrap your head around a different perspective where you have to be willing to let go and trust and be willing to feel at ease with not being "in control"
I'm sure that it is quite hard, but I also wonder if that kind of upbringing sensitizes you to the use of potentially coercive tactics in a way that isn't the case for people who had less traumatic childhoods. From seeing your posts in various threads, I get the impression that at a gut level, you can't conceive of how correction, direction, or judgment could ever *not* be deeply harmful, or how they could ever arise from anything other than a belief in the innate badness of children.

My suspicion is that most of the people on this board who disagree with you on that - who believe that *in the context of gentle discipline* there's nothing wrong with certain kinds of correction and judgment - had essentially happy childhoods. For example, I come from such a deep position of trusting my parents and feeling loved by them that I have a very hard time understanding how people make the leap from "Mom told me not to jump on the bed" to "Mom won't love me unless I don't jump on the bed." At an emotional gut level, that feels like a total non-sequitur to me. To other people on this board, that connection is so self-evident that it needs no explaining.

Keeping your childhood experiences in context helps me understand why you react so strongly to any hint of control; it must be like, "YUCK, why would anyone want to make their kid feel like I felt as a kid?" Thinking about it that way helps some of your more strongly-worded posts sound less hostile to me. With time and exposure to other people's points of view, I hope that even if your basic philosophy never changes (and I certainly don't think it has to), you'll be able to get a glimpse of how correction or control might have been neutral or positive forces in someone else's life.

Alexandra 4.11.05 and Colin 2.9.09. Click on my name to visit my homeschooling blog.
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#23 of 173 Old 12-18-2005, 01:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Rivka5
I'm sure that it is quite hard, but I also wonder if that kind of upbringing sensitizes you to the use of potentially coercive tactics in a way that isn't the case for people who had less traumatic childhoods. From seeing your posts in various threads, I get the impression that at a gut level, you can't conceive of how correction, direction, or judgment could ever *not* be deeply harmful, or how they could ever arise from anything other than a belief in the innate badness of children.

My suspicion is that most of the people on this board who disagree with you on that - who believe that *in the context of gentle discipline* there's nothing wrong with certain kinds of correction and judgment - had essentially happy childhoods. For example, I come from such a deep position of trusting my parents and feeling loved by them that I have a very hard time understanding how people make the leap from "Mom told me not to jump on the bed" to "Mom won't love me unless I don't jump on the bed." At an emotional gut level, that feels like a total non-sequitur to me. To other people on this board, that connection is so self-evident that it needs no explaining.

Keeping your childhood experiences in context helps me understand why you react so strongly to any hint of control; it must be like, "YUCK, why would anyone want to make their kid feel like I felt as a kid?" Thinking about it that way helps some of your more strongly-worded posts sound less hostile to me. With time and exposure to other people's points of view, I hope that even if your basic philosophy never changes (and I certainly don't think it has to), you'll be able to get a glimpse of how correction or control might have been neutral or positive forces in someone else's life.

This is an interesting take on it. I feel like my mother was pretty violently coercive, though, and I still don't feel like I need to reject all coercion. I guess it affects all kids differently, and no one can really understand the circumstances that children grow up in. I think some of the things my mother did would be considered abusive, and had they been witnessed by the appropriate people, even in those days, might have resulted in us being removed. But I guess I did feel loved overall, and while I was glad to grow up and not have to be bossed anymore, I didn't even really feel like it was that detrimental.

I think I could see how you would want to never coerce your kids, and understand the impulse. But I also think that this wouldn't work for most people. Maybe I'm wrong. But I think people have priorities and obligations that make it impractical at best and impossible for the most part. Again, maybe I'm wrong. But from what I've heard, it sounds prohibitively time-consuming. What do you non-coercers think?

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#24 of 173 Old 12-18-2005, 01:44 AM
 
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Why raise a child with no coersion at all?
Because I choose not to use force to make people do what I want. I choose to honor others with the choice of consent and refusal about their lives and bodies.

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What is the message that you hope to impart?
That one can choose not to use force to make people do what one wants. That one can choose to honor others with the choice of consent and refusal about their lives and bodies.

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How do you expect this to create the adult you hope they will be?
Through respect and modelling, perhaps this same value may be adopted, practiced and shared. I hope that our son is aware that he has the freedom of choice, now, today and everyday of his life, not only as an adult. And that I and others do also.

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What is the goal?
That there is more peace and freedom in the world. And there is.

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I don't want to start the "do you have to" debate again but I do think that most of us feel that we are coerced in our jobs, in our lives, in our place in society...sure we make choices but we have negative consequenses (coersion) attacheched to those choices so I wonder...what does raising children in a womb of noncoersion teach them about dealing with what life will bring?
That we do have a choice in our jobs, in our lives, in our place in society. That we don't "have to" do things we don't want to do. That we have the freedom of choice.

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I mean this in all honesty. I don't get it.
I feel sad to hear this, sincerely.

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I try not to impose my will on my kids "just because" and I too will usually let a dirty diaper lie rather than fight a toddler to change it...but I promis that when the poop starts creaping out I will coerce to get that dirty diaper off
I choose to find a mutually agreeable way to get that dirty diaper off too. The choice of using coercion halts the attempt to find a consensual way.

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I do however generally think that at every point the thing I need to do is decide if this is the fight I want to take on- is this really worth it? I think a lot of battles parents choose to pick are probobly not worth fighting.
I choose not to be in fights and battles with others. I choose to find a peaceful solution to the best of my ability, instead. The more I rely on 'necessity as the mother of invention', the more abled I become at finding another way. And the world has more peace as a whole, and certainly in our home than if I were to choose coercion and force. Freedom is a choice that is available to every parent and child, unless choice is taken away.

There is an allegory of the bird who lived in a cage but believed that he couldn't live in any other way, but the door to the cage had always been open. However, the bird wasn't aware of it. The bird could always be free, but his beliefs kept him imprisoned.


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#25 of 173 Old 12-18-2005, 02:05 AM
 
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[QUOTE=scubamama]There is an allegory of the bird who lived in a cage but believed that he couldn't live in any other way, but the door to the cage had always been open. However, the bird wasn't aware of it. The bird could always be free, but his beliefs kept him imprisoned. (QUOTE)

I believe this wholeheartedly! Dh and I were not 100% satisfied with our jobs, so we started our own business. I was not 100% satisfied with how my pregnancy and upcoming birth were being "handled" so I explored and achieved unassisted childbirth. I'm not 100% satisfied (or even 10% satisfied) with how schools are run, so we're opting to homeschool. Because of all this we live a very nice life --a life in which we feel we have consent. Some people have told me that I live a "charmed life," but I actually take offense to that because it's a life I have worked for based on my beliefs. Anyone (and I really think anyone!) can live a "charmed life" if they don't let certain beliefs keep them imprisoned.

Our lives, of course, are not always easy. But I feel fortunate to know that I have it in my power to handle the struggles with a change-- whether it be a change in environment, a change of action, or a change in attitude. And that is definitely something I hope to pass on to my son.

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#26 of 173 Old 12-18-2005, 02:16 AM
 
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Originally Posted by natensarah
I think I could see how you would want to never coerce your kids, and understand the impulse. But I also think that this wouldn't work for most people. Maybe I'm wrong. But I think people have priorities and obligations that make it impractical at best and impossible for the most part. Again, maybe I'm wrong. But from what I've heard, it sounds prohibitively time-consuming. What do you non-coercers think?
I guess that I am an activist and a philosopher at heart. And that I believe the most effective way to change the world is to change how our children are birthed and "parented". (Btw, I don't consider the "parenting" relationship to eliminate our son's freedom of self-determination.) I believe that every individual makes a difference. And that with our thoughts, beliefs, assumptions and actions we change the world. Striving for peace in Real Life seems gloriously worth it as a priority and worthy of placing "obligations" in perspective. I don't believe that expediency necessitates coercion; certainly we are much quicker to find mutually agreeable solutions with practice and intention, than without.

Life is a choice. I strive to choose peace, everyday, in every way. Certainly, I do not feel that I do this perfectly, by a long shot. I don't consider my personal growth time-consuming though. I find the process of my growth of awareness to be the joy (and challenge) of living.

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#27 of 173 Old 12-18-2005, 02:38 AM
 
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[QUOTE=KateSt.]
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Originally Posted by scubamama
There is an allegory of the bird who lived in a cage but believed that he couldn't live in any other way, but the door to the cage had always been open. However, the bird wasn't aware of it. The bird could always be free, but his beliefs kept him imprisoned. (QUOTE)

I believe this wholeheartedly! Dh and I were not 100% satisfied with our jobs, so we started our own business. I was not 100% satisfied with how my pregnancy and upcoming birth were being "handled" so I explored and achieved unassisted childbirth. I'm not 100% satisfied (or even 10% satisfied) with how schools are run, so we're opting to homeschool. Because of all this we live a very nice life --a life in which we feel we have consent. Some people have told me that I live a "charmed life," but I actually take offense to that because it's a life I have worked for based on my beliefs. Anyone (and I really think anyone!) can live a "charmed life" if they don't let certain beliefs keep them imprisoned.

Our lives, of course, are not always easy. But I feel fortunate to know that I have it in my power to handle the struggles with a change-- whether it be a change in environment, a change of action, or a change in attitude. And that is definitely something I hope to pass on to my son.
Yes, we are the masters of our own life. Children believe this. Often, it is taught out of us and then we struggle to relearn it. What a gift to know it all of one's life. I find it is a joy to share this awareness together.

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#28 of 173 Old 12-18-2005, 04:17 AM
 
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Wow, this thread is amazing. My eyes are wide open and I am both full of regrets and full of possibilities for the future. I am definitely a coercive parent, but I never even thought of that word. I have been struggling for months with trying to figure out ways to get ds to do what I need or want him to do, but I was missing the boat completely. It is totally unimportant what I think ds should do. I am not honoring his decision making capabilities.

Lately, ds has been saying, "Mama/daddy doesn't love me." When we discipline him for something or stop him (usually the case) from doing something that is destructive (our big thing is hitting the dogs or blocking the dogs in the doorway). We try to help him understand that our instructions are in no way connected to our love for him, but that is not getting through.. Now I am thinking that somehow he has gotten the message that our love for him is conditional. I think that it is all because he knows that we are coercive and even though we love him and show him in numerous ways that we do, he still has this feeling of needed to do what we need him to do in order to get love/praise/comfort. I feel like I have really let him down.

For the record, my parents, but especially my father, were and still are incredibly coercive and conditional. Even still, I feel like I am letting my father down. No matter how many times he tells me I love him, I still feel like there is judgement there, ykwim?

So, my question is, how do I start being less coercive with a 3 yr old? How can I change these terrible build up patterns.

thanks mamas.

Mother to one wild and crazy boy 12/29/2002.
Midwife, Homeschool Educator and Crafter.
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#29 of 173 Old 12-18-2005, 06:52 AM
 
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I do think that most of us feel that we are coerced in our jobs, in our lives, in our place in society...sure we make choices but we have negative consequenses (coersion) attacheched to those choices so I wonder
I'm so sorry you feel that way!!! I don't feel that way at all and if I did I would start to make some drastic changes. I don't coerce my child because I don't coerce other people either. I don't believe I have the right to force someone/anyone to do something against their will. It's as simple as that for me

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#30 of 173 Old 12-18-2005, 12:11 PM
 
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Wow, this thread is amazing. My eyes are wide open and I am both full of regrets and full of possibilities for the future. I am definitely a coercive parent, but I never even thought of that word. I have been struggling for months with trying to figure out ways to get ds to do what I need or want him to do, but I was missing the boat completely. It is totally unimportant what I think ds should do. I am not honoring his decision making capabilities.
Well, in my opinion, it is not 'totally unimportant' what you think you need. What you need is just as important as what ds needs, just not more so. But what others "should" do is basically beyond our control, unless they consent. Could you provide some specific examples about what you think ds needs to do and how his (non) choices impact you?

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Lately, ds has been saying, "Mama/daddy doesn't love me." When we discipline him for something or stop him (usually the case) from doing something that is destructive (our big thing is hitting the dogs or blocking the dogs in the doorway). We try to help him understand that our instructions are in no way connected to our love for him, but that is not getting through.. Now I am thinking that somehow he has gotten the message that our love for him is conditional. I think that it is all because he knows that we are coercive and even though we love him and show him in numerous ways that we do, he still has this feeling of needed to do what we need him to do in order to get love/praise/comfort. I feel like I have really let him down.
Perhaps you are communicating love conditionally, I don't know. This can be changed, of course. However, I still would advocate for the dogs safety too. (You might start a thread specifically about this issue, if you are interested in more GD advice on alternative ways to address it.) Sometimes, saying "I love you, but yada, yada" could imply that love is a choice and not unconditional love. If you could express the specific ways you try to alter behaviors, perhaps we could help tweak the communication. If anyone's underlying needs are (unintentionally or intentionally) being thwarted or ignored, one could surmise that someone doesn't care for them. (I am not saying you are doing this.) My point is that your son's perspective is the relevant one for him to experience love. There is a book called "The Five Love Languages" which discusses this more proactively too.

What concerns do you have regarding praise or comfort that you think you may have associated with his behaviors?

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For the record, my parents, but especially my father, were and still are incredibly coercive and conditional. Even still, I feel like I am letting my father down. No matter how many times he tells me I love him, I still feel like there is judgement there, ykwim?
Ah, yes. Trust me. I KNOW. But, I am not dependent upon his judgement anymore. I learned to love and trust myself.

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So, my question is, how do I start being less coercive with a 3 yr old? How can I change these terrible build up patterns.
I think you may benefit most from your own thread. Then you can be as specific as you are seeking to learn. The easiest first step, is to say 'Yes, let's figure that out' more, instead of "no". And 'What do you need? Here is what I need. How can we both get what we need?' as a process of seeking mutually agreeable solutions.

Btw, "no" is quicker and easier, in the short run.

Pat

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