I'm actually a mother of a 1 and 3 year old and I am currently having a freak out about whether Gentle Discipline style approaches are right for us. Did anyone reading this use these when their kids were younger and do you still? How did it work for your family? I really like the philosophy, but we often feel like we don't know what we are doing, need structure, more rules or follow through or something. But, then I always come up with reasons to not use conventional punishments like time-out etc. My 3 year old is a bit more physical than other kids I know. Do you think there are some kids it just doesn't work for? Sorry, this is a late night ramble after a heck of day. Would appreciate any words of encouragement to keep it up.
I tried all the different "attachment parenting/parenting ourselves/connection parenting" ideas and it didn't shift their behavior (we're talking years now!). I decided to listen to my intuition. Now, I discipline kindly and calmly but with expectations! I don't just excuse their behavior and let them express every self-centered thought. I think when I reframed parenting into a question of "Who do I want my child to grow up to be character-wise?", it really helped take anyway any guilt or fear I was feeling in the moment. I no longer worry about harming their "self" esteem because I found when I allowed self-esteem to come out on top, I ended up with self-centered children who lost consideration for others, respect for elders/parents and were inattentive at school and home!
"If you find from your own experience that something is a fact and it contradicts what some authority has written down, then you must abandon the authority and base your reasoning on your own findings"~ Leonardo da Vinci
A couple of years ago one of them smacked the other one in the car (both sitting in back). After the initial Mom outrage, I proposed switching seats with one of them, and the one on the receiving end asked that his brother swap with me. The aggressor said to me, "You can't make me." My response was "You're right. I can't." After a minute or two of silence, he did. And I left it at that, because we want way more out of both our sons than compliance. We want each of them to have more from his brother than just what his Mom or Dad made him do. But I'll tell you something, it was a trust fall. Trust in the way we've treated them for years, trust in them, trust in what they feel for us and one another . . . and it turned out to be a good call. Maybe not the best, maybe not the "right" one, but something with reasons I could point at with a feeling that I've tried to respect everyone involved.
But just remember, as your child grows and matures, you will have cycles where it feels like you are right back to the beginning. You are. you've got to remember that you succeeded before and trust that you will again. The psychological growth spurts are surely a test, but we're growing humans, it's an intensely amazing job that is worth more than anything else I can imagine.
Just to clarify, I don't have 'easy' kids. My son has been physically aggressive since he was a fetus, kicking me so hard the furniture shook. HE has explosive anger and sensory issues.
I think the thing that has helped me the most is the Daily Groove.
On one hand, we are totally gentle and non-punative.
At the same time, my kids aren't always right and I can draw that line. Some things just aren't tolerated and them being happy every second isn't a big priority of for me. They know they are very special, but no more special than anybody else.
I'm deeply concerned with what is going on with them and how they feel, but I know that sometimes they need to move past how they feel.
We've had routines and expectations, but made an attempt for that to be joyful rather than burdensome. I tried to set them up to be *good* and tried to figure out what the triggers were for *bad* behavoir.
We went through a phase when they were preschool age when they were driving me bonkers, so my Dh and I made a list of simple rules with little pictures. It was pretty basic -- like they need to sit in their chairs during dinner.
For the most part, I'd say my kids are turning out OK. They are 12 and 13 and sometimes drive me crazy, but they are nice kids, kind to others, and they generally try their hardest. Other adults like them, and they enjoy reading and taking care of their things.
but everything has pros and cons
I found that reducing the number of things that everyone has to do each day really helped. My kids have never had much in the way of extracurricular activities on weekdays until they were 9 or 10 years old. (My kids go to public school, so that might make a difference for you.)
I also have found that I have a personal link between money and commitment. It took me awhile to realize that just because I had paid for something for the kids to do, it didn't mean the kids had to do it. That was big for me. Now I find teenagers to teach music lessons for $10/lesson instead of signing the kids up for 10 months of lessons for $600.
We also avoided adding stressful paraphenalia like gaming systems, cable TV and internet access for the first few years.
* We are considerate of others because other people have feelings just like we do, rather than avoiding hitting a sibling when mom is around because she'll give me a time out.
* We all pick up together after a meal because that's part of being in a family and it's not fair for one person to do all the work, not because if we do the dishes each day mom will give us $5 at the end of the week. It's just different.
It's far easier to deal with teens who have internalized the REASONS for doing certain things.
but everything has pros and cons
The think about GD is, there are so many different ways to GD. In my opinion, even time-outs can be GD if they are implemented in a loving, non-shaming way. So I would definitely encourage you to read widely and trust your instincts about your children's needs, rather than feeling like you have to stick to a certain philosophy no matter what.