I have read so many books and tried many different ‘types’ of discipline in the seven years that I have been a mama. Early in my mothering journey I even used punishment . After much trial and error I am proud to say that our family now practices gentle discipline and we are a happier, more attached family because of it.
When I discuss discipline I like to point out that there is a difference between discipline and punishment. I found the following at Mothering Magazine:
Discipline: to teach, to instruct, to guide. It is not harmful, painful, or shaming to either party.
Punishment: to inflict pain, physically, mentally, emotionally, to belittle, outcast, ignore, or coerce in order to manipulate another to behave/do what you want them to.
My family chooses not to use punishment we use discipline, gentle discipline. Through gentle discipline the love and respect in our family has blossomed. Practicing gentle discipline promotes respectful, loving relationships between parents and their children. It creates stronger bonds and better behavior from children (and parents).
I would like to share the following information about gentle discipline from La Leche League (a wonderful parenting resource).
Gentle discipline means, quite simply, placing empathy and respect at the very center of your parenting.
Why gentle discipline?
(1) Safety. We want our children to feel safe with us, so that we can be trusted resources for our children to turn to throughout their lives.
(2) Partnership. Gentle discipline is a way to forge a partnership between parents and children
(3) Building better options. By looking for the positive intent behind our children’s behavior, we can build better options for the next time—an infinitely more positive approach than simply eradicating unwanted behavior
(4)Self-discipline. We want our children to develop their own sense of inner discipline
(5) Nurture respect and empathy. Gentle discipline allows us to protect and nurture the human elements in our children that more traditional discipline methods tend to gloss over.
What does gentle discipline look like? I will tell you what it looks like in our family.
Ava was having a super grumpy day. She was tired from her first soccer game and a night of little sleep.
Ava followed me into the kitchen. She laid on the floor and grabbed my foot. She wanted to pinch it as hard as she could, I could see it in her face. I proceeded to move around the kitchen making dinner and she scooted around the floor holding on to my foot. Ava was in need of my love and understanding. I chose gentle discipline.
I stopped cooking and sat down on the ground near Ava. I asked her if she wanted to fight or if she wanted to cuddle. She told me that she wanted to fight.
She was laying on the floor by the dishwasher sucking her thumb. I told her a story about me holding her in the same spot in our kitchen where she was laying when she was just a new little baby. I told her how I had to have the dishwasher running, the sink dripping (I know horrible it was a horrible waste of water and power but it worked) and the lights dimly shinning for her to fall asleep. My story caught her interest. Ava crawled over and laid her body across my lap. We were snuggled on the floor together.
Ava was glancing at our word caterpillar hanging on the wall. She asked me what the words spelled. I spelled each word and told her a loving sentence using each word…
“s-e-e- , see, I see my amazing daughter”
She then asked me to sing the ABC song. I sang. Still cuddled on the kitchen floor Audrey joined us. Ava scooted over to share my lap so that Audrey could breastfeed. Ava wanted to count to 100. She did it. Twice.
I could have put Ava in a time out when she was laying on the floor wanting to pinch my foot. I could have sent her to her room. I didn’t. I chose gentle discipline.
I would also like to add that I am not a perfect mama. I loose my cool and sometimes I raise my voice. When I make a mistake I say I’m sorry……just like I hope my kids would do.
To read more about my journey of peaceful parenting please click here.