Baby Dust Diaries

A Life Less Ordinary

Category: Gentle Discipline (page 1 of 2)

In Defense of “The Meanest Mom”

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the “meanest mom” a mom who’s account of a trip to Dairy Queen with her three kids (eight years and under) went viral. Here’s is her follow up where she explains her rationale.

The vast majority of people have rallied behind her. She’s a “parenting hero” and if more parents were “like her” the world would be a better place.

Unfortunately, literally all of the research on child development and parenting practices say the exact opposite.  What she did isn’t open to interpretation like we try to pretend parenting choices are. All current research on human development, psychology, and brain plasticity studies show without any doubt that what she did was damaging to her children and will  have the opposite effect on her kids. She demonstrated bullying perfectly. She embodied adultism in a way more clear than any article I could write. (This isn’t going to be *that* post with all the links to why this is wrong. I talk about that constantly and you can google scholar just as well as I.)

The minority of people pointing this out – that you absolutely can NOT teach kindness by being a bully – rightfully point out that this is, in fact, emotional abuse. Just imagine a husband doing this to a wife and it is easy to see how abusive it was.

Here’s the thing though: this mom, despite being wrong and woefully uneducated on child development, is not a bad person. She is a good person, with good intentions and not a single cultural belief system in sight to help her accomplish her goals.

The social messages about parenting are clear: control, power, obedience, adultism (adults matter more than children), and punishment (including shame and embarrassment) are what parenting is all about. She never learned about child development in school or through public education programs (like the ones so stringently trying to force crib-sleeping, funded by crib manufacturers). She never saw examples in her life or on TV that showed consensual, respect-based parenting. She sees cultural stories that say kids are “out of control” and “lazy parents” are making them that way.

Of course she didn’t want to be one of “those” parents. She sees bullying and disrespect for the working class (see any argument that fast food workers don’t deserve a living wage, for example) as a huge problem. Hooray! She wants to raise humans that are kind and respectful. Hooray! It isn’t her fault she’s been given exactly ZERO tools for doing so by her culture.

So, in her valid and worthy attempt to raise good humans, she ploughed head long into exactly the wrong methods. Of course she did! How could she do otherwise? She’s following the path laid out for her by her culture.

I wish I could spend an afternoon with her. I’m sure she’s a nice person and a conscientious mother. She’s been failed by her culture. Her kids have been failed by their culture. She is clearly intelligent and desiring to be a good parent.

But her culture exists to breed unkindness and violence, disrespect and marginalization of “less than” groups like children, obedience and deference to authority. This is reinforced by schools that work solely on the model of hierarchical control and obedience and profound, deeply rooted adultism.

The woman behind the counter was probably parented the same way. She was a teenager apparently which means, unless she’s unschooled, she is daily subjected to poor treatment and lack of autonomy at the local high school. If she continues to work at fast food places as an adult she’ll be well primed by her opinion not mattering for 18 years to have her livelihood denigrated by her culture through lack of respect and poor pay.

Mean mom herself was probably parented the same way. She associates parenting with being bullied and hurt. She sees her children’s emotional pain as proof she’s given them a “lesson” that will “last”.

And she’s right. Her children have learned that might makes right. That people bigger (or with more “authority”) can take from you without your consent. That the people who love you the most will hurt you when they can if you don’t conform to their expectations. That “natural consequences” means bigger people hurting you.

We all have to accept responsibility for parents creating bullies while ostensibly trying to teach them to be kind. We are this culture too and we have to be diligent in what type of culture we are creating.  The culture set up specifically to support capitalism (which requires that some people matter more than others) and hierarchy of authority (like patriarchy and white supremacy taught in schools) NEEDS you to parent in this way so your kids will be habituated to it by the time they are adults. Then they will quietly accept their lives of marginalization, debt, poverty, and purposelessness.

She’s the meanest mom in the world. Which means her culture applauds her good job! While her children internalize this (mean to children = good) insuring they’ll perpetuate it when they’re adults too. A cycle of abuse with no end in sight that exists to support the hierarchy of society.

Hurt people hurt people. I feel for this mom who wants so much to be a good person raising good people but is stymied by her own hurt and harm done to her by our culture.

It always fills me with so much sorrow when I see people parent this way. Knowing that there is another way. That parenting can be joyful and your relationships with your kids don’t have to be ruled by power struggles and tears. That kids will grow to be compassionate, thankful humans because they see their primary relationships model compassion and thankfulness. That you don’t ever have to bully your kids. That hurt does not EVER need to be part of you parenting.

IToto-1‘m so sorry, Mean Mom, that you’ve had this very natural truth about humans obscured by cultural belief systems rooted in violence and control. I hope that one day you see behind the curtain of our culture and find another way.

 

I’ll be over here like Toto jumping up and down and pointing behind the curtain screaming, “Look! Look!”

Are Parents a Friend or Foe?

1010206_802204776492736_3804007470436320531_nThe meme was making its way around Facebook yesterday to a chorus of “hell yes” and tagging teen offspring so they know you’ll “hunt them down.”

I’d like you to try a thought experiment with me (suggested by my friend Ginger). Replace parent with another relationship in your life like your husband/partner.

I am your husband.
I will stalk you
Flip out on you
Lecture
Drive you insane
Be your worst nightmare
Hunt you down when needed
Because I love you.

Does that sound like a healthy relationship? When someone says they love you is it ok for them to treat you like this meme suggests? Of course not! We recognize if your “love” holds such control and conditions that it is not in fact love at all.

For children we throw all the normal rules of healthy relationships out the window. This is a particular crime because kids learn how relationships work from watching their primary caregivers and the way the treat others.

As parents we model relationships for our kids. Everything they take into adulthood about how relationships should be come from their earliest formative experiences with the adults in their lives. Do you want this to be the message your kids hear?

This meme isn’t about loving your kids. It is about controlling them, wielding power over them and teaching them that life is a hierarchy and they need to submit to those above them and force submission from those below them. This meme is about a non-consensual relationship where the object of “love” has no say in their treatment. It is one sided.

There is another way. And guess what? It works better. Lectures? Anyone who has a preschooler knows lectures work about as well as spanking. Which is to say it may cease the behavior but it never lasts and carries the scars of knowing mom only loves you if you “behave”.

Luckily Joni over at Tales of a Kitchen Witch created a much better version of this meme.

11026039_921735471180943_1973685582210676202_nNow replace this one with “partner” or “spouse”. Does that sound like a relationship you want your daughter to have one day with her significant other?

Instead of stalking, lecturing, and being a nightmare how about we listen, guide, and be a cheerleader.

That is the definition of love I want my kids to see when they think on our relationship. I want them to know from this example that ANYONE who treats them like an object by lecturing, stalking, and hunting them is a predator and they should not have a relationship with that person because they deserve unconditional love and always a consensual relationship.

How to Not Potty Train in 3 Easy Phases

 

I’m deep in walk training right now.  Yesterday my kid got 3 stickers for walking across the kitchen but today he’s been crawling all day!  I keep admonishing him that we don’t crawl anymore and I make him get up and walk for 10 minutes every hour.  This is exhausting!  I can’t wait till he’s walk trained!

Sounds funny, huh?  We don’t walk train or talk train our kids so why do we potty train?  Kids learn to walk and talk because we walk and talk and they become ready to imitate us.  Why isn’t the same true for learning to potty?

Now, I acknowledge that outside influences might force you to “train” your child to use the potty (daycare).  If you do need to potty train check out Elizabeth Pantley’s No-Cry Potty Training Solution.  But, let’s admit that any potty training we do is for our (or another adult’s) convenience.  Using bribes or threats to get your kid to use the toilet benefits YOU in that you don’t have to buy diapers (or wash diapers) or spend time changing them.  I don’t believe there is any benefit to the child of potty training.  

Bodily Autonomy

In fact, I think there is great benefit in letting them lead the way.  Why?  To teach bodily autonomy.  Bodily autonomy means knowing that you are in charge of your own body.  The concept of bodily autonomy is so important to raising kids that respect their bodies and do not allow others to abuse it.  There are several ways to teach bodily autonomy but I think the biggest way is to LET THEM HAVE BODILY AUTONOMY.  That means they are in charge of what they wear, eat, and do with their bodies within safety guidelines.

What does this look like?  Well, my kids are naked a lot because what they wear in the house is not worth my trying to control.  Of course they have to be dressed to go outside but they can wear what they want.  My kids are not perfect little cuties in perfect little clothes (well, to me they are.)  It means I don’t force my daughter to have pigtails if she says no (although I do insist on a daily brushing).  It means they have access to food when they want and aren’t forced to eat something when I want them to.  It means I make bedtime enjoyable but they can go to sleep when they’re ready.  And it means that I am willing to change diapers until they don’t want me to anymore.

By 12 months old people (cough, Mom) started asking me about potty training.  Because Aellyn was “smart” she was clearly “ready”.  What they meant by that is she clearly had the communication skills and understanding for me to use behavioral conditioning to make her use the potty.  Behavioral conditioning (also called Operant conditioning – think Pavlov’s dog) is training someone to do something based on a consequence.  For example, use the potty and get a sticker or have an “accident” and get punished.  At this point, parents begin putting baby on the toilet often, asking if they have to go often, and giving rewards if they use the potty.

Since I had decided to not train we tried hard to ignore the naysayers.  This is hard!  I was often worried that she WOULD be the 18 year old in diapers!  But, I calmed down, trusted my instincts, and waited for Aellyn to be ready.  Here’s how it went.

Phase 1: Observation

Aellyn sees mommy and daddy use the potty often.  Some people are very private but I don’t think that serves well with kids.  My kids see me naked, see me shower and get dressed.  It isn’t like “now I”m going to show you how to sit on the potty” but just casual observation of how people do things normally.  Like walking and talking, kids want to do it because you are.

By 2.5 years old she was often saying “When I grow up I’ll go on the potty like mommy and daddy.”  She would also tell me BEFORE she went poop.  So, I’d ask calmly if she’d like to go on the potty.  She’d say “no” and go off to poo in her diaper and then come to me to change it.  She clearly had knowledge and control of her urges (the pressure to “train her, train her!” became stronger) but she said no and I respected that.

Phase 2: Responsibility (and Waiting)

I don’t know if this contributed to her finally going on the potty but I”ll put it in here in case you want to try it.  By 3 she could dress herself so we bought pull ups and she became responsible for changing her own pee diapers.  She was excited about this and I wouldn’t have done it if she had shown resistance.  She took off her own wet diaper, threw it away, got a new diaper and put it on.  When she had poops she came to me to change her.  During this time, since she’s often naked, she would run around “accident free” naked and then go get a diaper when she wanted to pee.  I would again ask her if she wanted to use the potty and she said no.  (I can literally hear my Mom saying “OMG TRAIN HER!”)

Phase 3: Click!

One day, when Aellyn was 39 months (3 yr. 3 mo.) her friend Caelan was visiting and she went potty on the toilet.  Aellyn watched.  After Caelan left Aellyn wanted to pee on the potty.  She did.  A few hours later she pooped on the potty.  I put a diaper on her that night and the next morning let her put on panties.  That was it.  She never wore another diaper.  Day or night.  She’s had 3 accidents.  She pooped once in her underpants and cried!  That was after we moved to the new house so I think she was holding it.  And twice she’s woken up wet; and really just a little wet and then she goes potty.  Better yet, she doesn’t need me at all.  She goes potty on her own and I never ask her if she needs to go.  She wipes herself and I decided not to intervene or “check” and a few times she had an itchy butt and we talked about wiping good and once she had an ouchy vagina and we talked about front to back and getting dry.  I’ve just been completely hands off about it.

Honestly, I’m not exaggerating!  It was in her time so when she was ready there was no training, or transition, or anything.  It was like walking – one day she did it and then she always did it.

I’m so glad we trusted her timing.  I had promised myself not to get worried until 4.5 years old (and I had to remind myself again and again).  Clearly, seeing a peer use the potty was her catalyst but I’m sure something would have eventually played that role if not Caelan (Thanks Caelan!).

(note: this post refers to traditional diapered kids and potty training.  I don’t consider Elimination Communication to be the same as potty training.  To learn more about EC check out these great posts.)

Carnival of Gentle Discipline Call for Submission on ParentingGently.com

Call for Submissions for the 3rd Annual Carnival of Gentle Discipline

I’m so excited to say that the Carnival is in its third year!  This year we have more great gentle parenting advice, great giveaways, and wonderful bloggers.

Well, at least I hope.  That’s where you come in!  If you are a blogger or writer please consider writing an article for the 3rd Annual Carnival of Gentle Discipline.

The 2nd Annual Carnival of Gentle Discipline will take place June 27 through July 1.

How can you participate?

There are lots of ways!

  1. Original Posts – Submit an original post on a Gentle Discipline topic (see below for ideas) to be posted on your blog during the week of the Carnival.  This should be a well-written, unpublished piece submitted by June 18th using the submission form. You will receive instructions on when to post and header/footer information to include in your post.  I will be grouping posts by topic to debut on different days through out the week so you may submit multiple posts and they will be listed on a different day between June 25 and June 29.  The deadline for submission is Monday, June 18!
  2. If you are not a blogger: please email me at parentinggently AT gmail DOT com and I will find a blog to host your post.
  3. Discussion – Last year we had great discussion around many of the posts from bloggers and readers.  In the end this is the most valuable part of the Carnival!  I received several emails from people thanking me for opening their eyes to another way (perhaps you did too?) and that is the heart of this Carnival.  Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr – let the world know that gentle discipline works!

Oh, yeah, and PRIZES!

A Carnival and a Crusade

Carnivals are, of course, fun but this one can be so much more.  Getting the word out about the dangers of punitive discipline and about the valuable alternatives that exist can make a difference in the life of children everywhere.  You can use your blog posts and the Carnival posts to spread the word!  Tweet the Carnival (#CarGD) post it on Facebook and get the word out.  The more people who read about Gentle Discipline the more likely that we can change on child’s life for the better.

Post Ideas

Please take a look at last year’s topics for ideas.  You don’t have to consider yourself an “expert” on GD!  Writing about struggles/doubts makes GD more real to those unfamiliar with it!  You can write about any topic related to Gentle Discipline (GD) but here are some ideas;
  • Your childhood experience with/without GD
  • Why you choose GD with your kids
  • GD during difficult situations
  • Societal/family pressure to spank or give time outs
  • Permissiveness – the slippery slope and how to avoid it
  • Creating a “yes” environment
  • Using time-in instead of time-out
  • The dangers of praise
  • Respecting children’s feelings
  • Discipline through play
  • Sex differences in GD (apply differently to boys/girls? is this desirable?)
  • “The Hardest Part of GD is…”
  • Sibling “rivalry”
  • Dealing with teachers and caregivers

This is just a sample.  Feel free to post on any related topic!  Topics prohibited include spanking, corporal punishment, love-withdrawal, positive conditioning, parent-forced time-outs, withholding of basic care such as food, etc.

Please spread the word about the Carnival!  The more participants we have to stronger the cry for Gentle Discipline!  I’m a tiny blog in a big pond!  Help me get the word out!

Gentle Discipline Warrior

… But here were educated, loving parents who were making a decided choice to hit their children as part of an overall parenting strategy that wasn’t neglectful or abusive


Continue reading

Carnival of Gentle Discipline Wrap Up

What a wonderful Carnival! Thanks to all the bloggers who wrote so eloquently from their hearts and a huge thanks to all our readers and commenters.

Next Steps

If the posts this week resounded with you and you are or you want to strive to be a gentle parent there are several things you can do:

Show the world that you are a Gentle Parent!

If you have a blog or website or you post on message boards you can add the Gentle Parent Badge to your site/signature.  Please keep the link back to the Carnival so anyone who sees your badge can read the wonderful bloggers from this week.

Copy and Paste this code into your blog (an HTML widget usually works):

<a title="Carnival of Gentle Discipline" href="http://babydustdiaries.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/mmas21.jpg2010/04/carnival-of-gentle-discipline-call-for-submissions-now-with-100-more-button/"><img src="" alt="Gentle Parent - art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/" width="120" height="120" /></a><br />

If you are on a message board that does not allow html you can copy this code into your signature:
[url=http://babydustdiaries.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/mmas21.jpg2010/04/carnival-of-gentle-discipline-call-for-submissions-now-with-100-more-button/][img]http://mudspice.wordpress.com/[/img][/url]
There are two other pledges that you can take that are beautiful.  Edenwild has a Pledge of Gentle Love that says “I don’t believe in tough love.”

I also like Holistic Mom’s Declaration – Mindful Mama: Authentic Self.  This declaration is beautiful because it focuses both on being gentle to children and to yourself.

Parenthood is a gift.
I have many passions.
My child is my heart.
I am a multifaceted being.
My child’s needs come before my own.
Not ‘in place of’ my own.
Nothing is a sacrifice.
I choose to do from love.
I am there when my child needs me.
I take space for myself.

Keep Learning

In asking for submissions from writers for the Carnival I also asked them to nominate some of their previously published posts for a Creme de la Creme list of the Best of the Blogosphere on Gentle Discipline.  Enjoy these wonderful articles to help you enhance your repertoire of parenting techniques.

Carnival of Gentle Discipline crème de la crème post 2010

A Chance to Choose Nurturing Instead of Punishment
Arbitrary discipline
Children As Dogs
Chrsitian Child Discipline:  Is Spanking Biblical? No!
Dysfunctional
Focusing on Children’s Needs
Gently Responding to a Baby’s Bite
I Found The Instruction Manual for Raising Children
Improv and Saying Yes
Intentional Parenting with Grace
Is Spanking Necessary? My Answer from Experience is a Definitive NO
Letter on Christians and Spanking
My Kid is in So Much Trouble!
Respond With Sensitivity – Why Yelling Is Wrong And How You Can Avoid It
Riders on the (Tantrum) Storm
Spanking as just kinda creepy
Staying Patient
Swatting students
Teaching Patience
Tearing a Child Down Will Not Build Him Up
The Tyrannical Toddler: Beyond Power Struggles to Choice, Reason and Negotiation

Vote!

Last but not least @Birthgoddess of Wild Mother Arts was so kind to donate a $25 gift card to the blogger with the post voted best for the Carnival and we want you to vote!  I know there are 17 amazing posts and it is hard to pick just one, but if you could take a minute and vote for your favorite over on the right that would be great! Wild Mother Arts is beautiful fertility, birth, and nursing jewelry made by a doula, breastfeeding counselor, and mother of 3.  Visit her on Facebook or Twitter.

Final words:  I’m so proud of how this Carnival turned out.  Carnivals are fun and generate great conversation but if even one person learned a new technique to help them treat their child with a gentle heart then it was worth every second of labor.  I said on day one that I think gentle discipline changes more than just a parent and a single child.  It really has the power to change the world. So, I leave you dear reader with these words of wisdom that are over 2,000 years old.

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.


If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.


If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.


If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.


If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.


— Lao Tzu (570-490 B.C.)

Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All

Did you know that there is an online “Terrible Two’s” calculator?

You have 652 days – 4 hours – 41 minutes – and 9 seconds until your child is out of the terrible twos phase.

I find it so disturbing that we talk about children in this way.  I’m sure most parents don’t mean it with any malice but words are more powerful than we sometimes give them credit for.  If we talk about something as “terrible” and we are counting down the days until it is over how can we honestly be present in the moment?  I don’t think toddlerhood is something to be endured or to learn to cope with but something to enjoy.

That isn’t to say it isn’t a challenge.  But, remember that egocentric trap?  If we step back from that and imagine toddlerhood from your toddler’s perspective:

I’m a toddler and,

  1. I have trouble explaining myself because I don’t have a good grasp on language
  2. I *want* (really bad) to do everything myself but I’m not always capable
  3. I don’t have much experience with my emotions
  4. I have a hard time caring about other peoples’ feelings because I’m just grasping my own
  5. I’m learning that I’m separate from you and I have my own opinions (mostly? NO!)
  6. I’m learning that I get pleasure out of things (like a toy) or activities (like the park) and I have a really hard time letting go (sharing) or saying goodbye
  7. It seems like everyone over 4 ft. tall gets to make all the decisions!  It isn’t fair!

Can you imagine how some of these things would make you feel?  I think this is an area where parents need a change of perspective.  Imagine each of those toddlerisms with a positive spin,

  1. Every day my child is learning new words and how to express themselves
  2. My child has amazing perseverance and is learning how to do very complex tasks every week
  3. Every day my child is learning how to identify and express their emotions
  4. I know every time I name my child’s emotions or my own they are learning about empathy
  5. When my child says no it isn’t about me but evidence that he’s processing his thoughts and opinions and communicating them
  6. My child is learning about his preferences and how to care for his things
  7. By letting my child make some decisions he can learn high order thinking (and when I make the decisions I can explain why so he can see)

See?  It is just perspective!  Our writers today have some great tips and tricks to share as well.

The Terrible Two (and Two Parenting Strategies to Replace Them)

Dionna at Code Name: Mama (guest post on Good Goog) defines the terrible two’s for us,

Terrible Twos
Pronunciation:’ter-uh-bul’tüz
Function: noun
1. An annoying alliteration used to describe the emotional breakdowns that occur (in both toddlers and parents) when parents spend more time attempting to control behavior and engage forced cooperation than they do in nurturing their toddlers’ natural growth, independence, and curiosity;
2. A self-fulfilling prophecy.

She tells us that the real terrible two is spanking and yelling which are counterproductive, depriving your child of valuable expression.

Allowing your toddler to fully express his feelings has both short and long-term benefits. In the short-term, he will recover more quickly from emotional and physical hurts if he feels that he has been heard and acknowledged. In the long-term, allowing your toddler to experience his full range of emotions will help him “become emotionally resilient and capable of facing and resolving difficulties. [Children] must experience living with emotional storms if [they are] to master them[1. Aldort, Naomi, “Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves”].”

She has a great technique that will be a salve on your frazzled nerves (teehee, play on words  – trust me go check it out)

Gentle Parenting Ideas from a Toddler’s Perspective

On her own blog, Dionna also has a moving letter in the voice of her toddler.  This reminds me of Rambling Rachel’s article about Cry-it-out – if our kids could tell us what they think our parenting might be vastly different.  Dionna’s toddler gives us pointers on six common “issues” for parents.  One example, is his advice about dinnertime,

Sometimes I get overwhelmed sitting in my booster seat when all I want to do is run around and celebrate the fact that papa is home from work. And sometimes I’m just not that hungry – I am learning about my body’s hunger cues, so it’s probably best not to force me to eat. It’s nice when I have the option of eating at other times, and grazing is a great way to keep me on an even keel all day.

There’s a tear jerker in there too (for me at least) so take a hanky and go hear the little guy’s perspective.

A Positive View on Tantrums

Lisa at Edenwild tackles the big fear with toddlers …Tantrums.  She points out that although tantrums are normally seen in a negative light they are actually good.

I see [tantrums] as a good thing. My child is expressing himself, and I have an opportunity to listen. My child is upset, and I have an opportunity to let him know that I am there for him. I can show him that I will always be there for him, regardless of his mood, or how he behaves, or even if he is angry with me. I know he is not being naughty. On the contrary, he is doing something he very much needs to do–he is releasing his emotions. In a society where men are suspected of dying younger than women because they are better at bottling up their emotions, I see a healthy emotional release as a very good thing. And, when he has gotten it all out, he feels better than he did before the tantrum occurred. Isn’t that a good thing?

I think viewing tantrums as an opportunity to be seized rather than a problem to be endured is a great idea!

Gentle Parenting During Toddler Tantrums

Krista at Typical Ramblings, Atypical Nonsense continues on the same vein with parenting during tantrums.  She points out that we treat our babies with respect by

spend[ing] countless hours responding to their cries and talking them through their cries “It’s okay baby, your diaper is wet but mommy is going to change it” or “Aww you’re a hungry baby! It’s time to nurse you again”.  Gradually our babies start to tell us or show us what they need and the crying becomes less.

And yet when they are toddlers we suddenly expect them to understand without explanation.  What if instead we remembered that they do need help.

We can give them the words they are lacking. Just like we did when they were infants “I know it’s frustrating for you when the toys don’t work like you want. Would you like some help?

Krista has several great examples for working with your child through a tantrum or avoiding them altogether.

I have often heard that parents are most likely to spank children under 5 because by 5 years old the child is better able to understand and control themselves and thus listen and obey.  How awful is it that we are spanking a child because they are developmentally unable to understand and control their emotions.  Aren’t these the children that most deserve our patience and understanding?  I hope today’s posts gave you some great ideas for embracing toddlerhood – tantrums and all!

Tomorrow is the last day of our carnival and we have some special surprises and the poll will be opening for you to vote on your favorite post this week!  One of our wonderful writers that have shared so much with us to promote gentle discipline will win a $25 gift certificate at Wild Mother Arts.  Wild Mother Arts is beautiful fertility, birth, and nursing jewelry made by a doula, breastfeeding counselor, and mother of 3.  Visit her on Facebook or Twitter.

So, please stop back tomorrow to celebrate a wonderful week of gentle parenting!


Gentle Parent - art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/Welcome to the Carnival of Gentle Discipline

Please join us all week, April 26-30, as we explore alternatives to punitive discipline.  April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the USA and April 30th is Spank Out Day USA.  In honor of this we have collected a wonderful array of articles and essays about the negative effects of punitive discipline methods, like spanking, and a myriad of effective alternatives.

Are you a Gentle Parent?  Put the Badge on your blog or website to spread the word that gentle love works!


Day 1 – What Is Gentle Discipline

Day 2 – False Expectations, Positive Intentions, and Choosing Joy

Day 3 – Choosing Not To Spank

Day 4 – Creating a “Yes” Environment

Day 5 – Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All


Creating a “Yes” Environment

A no-no environment or a YES environment?

This week we’ve talked about what what gentle discipline is, how to choose joy in parenting, and reasons not to spank.  Today we are talking about creating a “yes” environment.

Before I had kids I thought child-proofing your house was such a stupid idea.  I mean kids die every year from drowning in the toilet[1. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml02/02169.html]!  I always thought outlet covers were just an excuse to be a lazy parent.  Now, I feel quite different and I think today’s writers explain why.

Parenting a Toddler with Loving Guidance

Sheryl at Little Snowflakes explains the benefit of “baby-proofing”

At a year he was too young to understand the repercussions of his actions.  So quickly we babyproofed our house and installed gates, locked cabinets and toilets, and removed all clutter.  What a difference it made!  I no longer had to follow him closely telling him no all the time.  He was free to explore our house and I could relax.

This goes back to Tuesday’s posts about choosing joy.  Sheryl could follow her son around so that “he learns” but what would the mood and the environment be like?  I couldn’t find a reference[2. GASP!  For shame.] but I read somewhere that parents of toddlers say “no” on average nine times every 15 minutes.  That seems like it would create a very tense environment and tip the balance toward frustration for the parent.

Sheryl lists several examples and some great books for further reading.

A Tiny Word with a Powerful Impact

Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog let’s us in on a wonderful parenting secret word:

It’s one that stops tantrums in their tracks, brings you closer together and makes yours and their lives a whole lot nicer.  It’s free, available to anyone and you don’t need any training. You can teach others to do it, in fact you’re already a master at it, but perhaps you’ve forgotten …It’s fun, uplifting and you’ll feel like the best parent in the world!

That word is ‘yes’.

By saying yes even when you are busy/irritable/late/overwhelmed, helps your child and you.

I guarantee it will turn your mood around in an instant and it will stop any escalating feelings of anger or sadness on your child’s part and irritability or stress on yours.

Mrs. Green has some great examples!  Go check them out!


Gentle Parent - art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/Welcome to the Carnival of Gentle Discipline

Please join us all week, April 26-30, as we explore alternatives to punitive discipline.  April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the USA and April 30th is Spank Out Day USA.  In honor of this we have collected a wonderful array of articles and essays about the negative effects of punitive discipline methods, like spanking, and a myriad of effective alternatives.

Are you a Gentle Parent?  Put the Badge on your blog or website to spread the word that gentle love works!


Day 1 – What Is Gentle Discipline

Day 2 – False Expectations, Positive Intentions, and Choosing Joy

Day 3 – Choosing Not To Spank

Day 4 – Creating a “Yes” Environment

Day 5 – Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All


Choosing Not to Spank

Today’s feature posts cover a hot topic in gentle discipline – the choice not to spank.  I’ve talked before about some of the scientific research against spanking. There are a lot of logical arguments that could be made but I think these writers captured a much more subjective and emotional view of this choice.

50’s Childhood

Connie, is a guest poster here at the Baby Dust Diaries who also happens to be my mother.  It wasn’t until she was 56 in the office of a therapist (for cardiac rehab after my Dad’s surgery) that she learned the impact of spanking:

The therapist had us close our eyes and imagine ourselves alone and standing in a spot light on a stage. Then we were to turn into the child we once were – as young as we could remember – and tell our parents what we most wanted to say.   To my astonishment I was transported back in time to the scene with my parents and sister having popcorn in the basement celebrating the new play area mom had painted for us. I hadn’t thought of that for years and suddenly I was crying and telling my Dad that I was sorry I didn’t listen to him,  that I thought the bowl would fall to the floor and break if I let go, that I loved him and forgave him for hitting me……………………It was very powerful.

Perhaps it is because I know the people involved but this bring tears to my eyes.  My mom had what most people would call and idyllic childhood and yet this one event left an emotional scar that brought tears to her eyes 50+ years later.  Read her amazing story here and answer her question – what will your kids remember?

I Have the Urge To Spank But Choose Not To

Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite admits that she has the impulse to spank – I think this is an important admission because society tells us spanking is “the” way to raise kids, so how could we not struggle with this urge?

I have horrible guilt around my urges to hit my child. I used to wonder what happened to my saintly patience. Was it just a state of mind? Where did it go?

I admit that when I’m particularly tired or upset about something else I feel angry when Aellyn pushes my buttons and I can feel why parents resort to spanking.  So how do you overcome the urge and make the choice not to spank?

I don’t want my kids to grow up remembering those feelings of confusion, hurt, betrayal and helplessness like I did. I want my kids to grow up with a mom they can dance with when the music is right. Who will touch my arm when they speak to me, slap my knee in amusement and hug me without effort because hugs and kisses come second nature to who they are.

Beautiful sentiment.  Dance when the music is right.  She has several questions and would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

Mistakes

Alexandra at Breastfeeding Momma also shares with us a recent circumstance where she thought about spanking.  I’ll let you read her story but her conclusion is poignant,

This was the turning point in my thinking about discipline. I had never been big on spanking before, but after this I am totally against it. It made an already bad situation worse, when all my son was doing was expressing feelings that he couldn’t tell me with his words. He was feeling sad and replaced by his sister. And we spanked him for it. Even now writing it down I am cringing. I never want him to feel like I don’t care about his feelings and that is what I did.

I applaud Alexandra for sharing something with us that is difficult to talk about.  I know that her ability to be honest and self revealing will have a real impact on readers and if it only stops one parent from spanking then we all owe her our gratitude.

Undermining General Beliefs about Corporal Punishment

Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting provides a very good argument for why spanking is abuse.  In the US most people who would be aghast at “abuse” will defend hitting a child under the euphemism “spanking” (or others I’ve heard: swat, smack, pop, etc. anything to lessen the reality of hitting a child),

Something – probably having been spanked themselves – makes people believe in the delusion that a small evil won’t harm, that it might possibly even do tons of good.

She lists several of the fallacies that spankers tell themselves and sums it up in no uncertain terms,

Spanking hurts, physically and mentally and it leaves scars, wether or not they are physical. It might be the worst crime in history, because the perpetrator is the one the weakest and most defenseless person in our society trusts the most. Corporal punishment is a lie you have been led to believe by our society based on violence and by the fear of denouncing those we hold dearest, our own parents.

If you need some good arguments to counter many of the justifications that spankers use – Mamapoekie’s post is a great resource.

Choosing Gentle Discipline

Liz at Hybrid-Life leads us on her journey to choosing gentle discipline.  She and her partner, like me and perhaps many of you, were spanked as a child by, for all accounts and purposes, good parents.  Her journey led her to realize she wanted a different paradigm for her parenting,

I don’t know if there was any one specific occurrence that pushed me firmly down the path of gentle discipline; instead it was a very slow process. Many pro-spankers firmly believe that spanking is the only way to ensure a well disciplined child and that didn’t sit well with me.  Some of these people seemed to equate “discipline” with children being seen and not heard. I read books such as Raising Cain and Unconditional Parenting that really challenged behaviorism and culturally accepted ways adults treat children. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I did not want to teach my child that “might makes right.”

Additionally, as a Christian, Liz disagrees with many Christian leaders that promote spanking as biblical,

I believe that spanking is totally inconsistent with the way that Jesus treated children and with the way that God treats his children. I don’t believe there is any grace in a “you did wrong, now I will hurt you as a punishment, then I will show you forgiveness.”

She also offers some resources for further reading.

Wow, today’s posts offered some great reasons to choose not to spank.  I really applaud today’s writers who were very willing to share their hearts with us for a cause they believe in.

Join us tomorrow when we’ll look at creating a “yes” environment for our kids.


Gentle Parent - art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/Welcome to the Carnival of Gentle Discipline

Please join us all week, April 26-30, as we explore alternatives to punitive discipline.  April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the USA and April 30th is Spank Out Day USA.  In honor of this we have collected a wonderful array of articles and essays about the negative effects of punitive discipline methods, like spanking, and a myriad of effective alternatives.

Are you a Gentle Parent?  Put the Badge on your blog or website to spread the word that gentle love works!


Day 1 – What Is Gentle Discipline

Day 2 – False Expectations, Positive Intentions, and Choosing Joy

Day 3 – Choosing Not To Spank

Day 4 – Creating a “Yes” Environment

Day 5 – Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All


50’s Childhood

This post is written for inclusion in the Carnival of Gentle Discipline hosted by Paige @ Baby Dust Diaries. All week, April 26-30, we will be featuring essays about non-punitive discipline. See the bottom of this post for more information.

This is a guest post written by Connie.  If you are a reader of my blog you’ll see her post comments as Mom – that’s because…she’s my mom! 🙂  I found her submission for the carnival (her first since she isn’t a blogger) to be very moving.  Enjoy.


When I was around 3 years old I was smacked on the cheek (slapped across the face seems a little harsh) by my father because I wasn’t doing what he was telling me to do. I was holding a large bowl of popcorn with buttery hands and it felt like it was slipping when my dad told me to give it to my bigger sister. My sister put her hands on the bowl, but I was not letting go after being told 2 or 3 times to do so……….and my Dad wanted to teach obedience.  Well  I let go of the bowl and climbed up on my mothers lap to cry, I think I felt humiliated…..I remember being able to tell that my dad felt bad about doing it but felt that the lesson learned was important.

Now I love my Dad dearly – he has always been my hero – the most honorable and dearest man I have ever known.  I was never spanked or hit ever again…and all my memories of my parents are of gentle teaching, love and respect.  So I tell you this memory because of another event that has made me think differently about the whole incident ever since.

When I was 56 years old my husband and I were in a Cardiac Rehab Stress Management Therapy session with a wonderful Psychologist at a community hospital.  The therapist had us close our eyes and imagine ourselves alone and standing in a spot light on a stage. Then we were to turn into the child we once were – as young as we could remember – and tell our parents what we most wanted to say.   To my astonishment I was transported back in time to the scene with my parents and sister having popcorn in the basement celebrating the new play area mom had painted for us. I hadn’t thought of that for years and suddenly I was crying and telling my Dad that I was sorry I didn’t listen to him,  that I thought the bowl would fall to the floor and break if I let go, that I loved him and forgave him for hitting me……………………It was very powerful.   It bothers me that I didn’t remember the time we all went sled riding on the biggest hill ever and climbed on our bellies on the sled – dad on the bottom, mom on top of him, my sister on top of mom and me on top of my sister and went heads first down that hill laughing all the way, falling off in the snow at the bottom and climbing the big hill to do it again. Why didn’t that come to mind or the many other great times we had together?

I do believe that we need to teach our children, but I ask you…. What will your child remember?


Gentle Parent - art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/Welcome to the Carnival of Gentle Discipline

Please join us all week, April 26-30, as we explore alternatives to punitive discipline.  April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the USA and April 30th is Spank Out Day USA.  In honor of this we have collected a wonderful array of articles and essays about the negative effects of punitive discipline methods, like spanking, and a myriad of effective alternatives.

Are you a Gentle Parent?  Put the Badge on your blog or website to spread the word that gentle love works!

Links will become available on the specified day of the Carnival.

Day 1 – What Is Gentle Discipline

Day 2 – False Expectations, Positive Intentions, and Choosing Joy (coming Tuesday, April 27)

Day 3 – Choosing Not To Spank (coming Wednesday, April 28)

Day 4 – Creating a “Yes” Environment (coming Thursday, April 29)

Day 5 – Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All (coming Friday, April 30)


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