Baby Dust Diaries

A Life Less Ordinary

Category: Gentle Discipline (page 2 of 2)

False Expectations, Positive Intentions, and Choosing Joy

Welcome to day 2 of the Carnival of Gentle Discipline.  I hope you got a chance to read the wonderful articles yesterday about the basics of Gentle Discipline.  Today we are going to look at one of the pitfalls that can trip parents up and how to make a different choice that will change your outlook!

Expectation and Intentions

Two ways that parents can fall into a negative pattern with their kids is through false expectations and intentions.  Having unrealistic expectations, for example expecting your toddler to sit quietly during dinner for an hour, sets parents up for frustration – thereby undermining gentle intentions.  Imagining malicious intention can be even worse.  Imagine your 11 month old throwing food off of their tray.  If you imagine she is doing it intentionally to annoy you your reaction will be very different than if you imagine she is having a great time learning about her power over objects.

David Elkind, in his book The Power of Play, calls this the egocentric trap.  He says, “This trap, which all parents slip into on occasion, is looking at situations entirely from our own perspective and failing to take the child’s point of view.”  In order to take your child’s point of view into account it is important to understand, from a developmental, perspective what your child is actually capable of.  Can an 18 month old sit quietly for an hour?  It is also important to relate to your child with empathy.  It is ok if these ideas don’t come naturally – practice makes perfect.  I recommend Elkind’s book and Baby Hearts by Susan Goodwyn.  Both books will help you change your expectations, assign reasonable intentions, and enjoy parenting.

Baby Hearts: A Guide to Giving Your Child an Emotional Head Start The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally
Baby Hearts: A Guide to Giving Your Child a…
by Susan Goodwyn Ph.D.
The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Natu…
by David Elkind

Assuming the Best Intentions

Lauren at Hobo Mama looks at the intentions we assign to children’s’ actions (and even adult’s actions) and how they usually says more about us than about them.

There’s a tendency to see misbehavior in any behavior that inconveniences us as adults…We’re not immune from taking this attitude even into our adult relationships. Ever had a partner or roommate leave the toilet paper roll empty? Was your first reaction righteous indignation and an assumption that it was done on purpose to spite you?

By taking a moment to step back (and out of Elkind’s egocentric trap) we can honor the impulse behind the behavior,

Is he running away? He’s connecting with me through play and seeking attention. He’s also showing his trust that we won’t truly lose him.  Is he making a mess? Children are messy creatures. They need to be free to experiment with objects and materials if they want to learn.  Is he being loud? He’s finding his own voice and honing his musical skills.

Lauren provides several great examples and resources for learning how to better assign intentions to our children.

Choosing Joy

Arwyn at Raising My Boychick provides us a great tool for checking if our expectations are reasonable,

Helping him meet our expectations means making sure that they’re reasonable, that there aren’t any impediments, and that he has the tools and guidance that he needs. Reasonable expectations take into account the world he lives in, and his abilities — both his limitations and his strengths (for children are often far more capable than we think). When he’s tantruming on the floor over his popped balloon, we consider that possibly he’s in HALT TOT (HALT TOT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, Thirsty, Overstimulated, or in need of a Toilet), and seek to rectify that and address the underlying problem.

She also reminds us that checking our expectations has a positive effect for us as parents – it feels good!

[G]iven the choice, I would rather feel good. I would rather look at my child and smile because he’s being rambunctious and learning about his body than tense up and get ready to yell because he’s being wild and tearing through the place. I would rather take the time to find creative solutions that leave us all satisfied than waste hours feeling angry and resentful and listening to him cry and be grumpy. I would rather practice finding joy in chaos than create frustration trying to control that which is not controllable.

Her post reminds us that every day is a choice.  Why not choose joy?

Making it Fun – The Power of Play

Shana at Schmoopy Baby has definitely got choosing joy down pat!  She gives us some great examples of parenting through bringing out your inner goofball. Being silly can go a long way with kids, as she shows in this example,

Is it important to you to have dinner together as a family at night, but sometimes your little schmoo is more interested in tossing around his books in the living room at dinner time? Try bringing out a few pieces of a yummy dinner-friendly snack (grapes are my little one’s temptation) and pretend you’re a train taking the grapes to the kitchen table. Be sure to include lots of fun sound effects and dance around a bit as you make your way.

Could I pick him up off the floor and storm into the kitchen while yelling, “I said it’s dinner time. That means you come when I call you. I’m your mother and you better learn to respect me and do what I say!”? Well yes, I suppose I could. I could put up with a lot more crying and screaming and anger and frustration. But why would I choose screams when I can get giggles? And how would that contribute to the positive family vibe I am trying to create by having dinner together in the first place?

Giggles or screams?  I choose giggles.  Go read her post for some great examples of playful parenting (including some silly songs!).

I hope you enjoy today’s posts.  Join us tomorrow when we’ll talk about Choosing Not to Spank.


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


Welcome to the Carnival! What is Gentle Discipline?

I’m so excited and honored to be hosting this carnival.  Promoting gentle parenting is so important to me not just because it can have a huge impact on children and parents, which it can, but because I honestly believe it can change the world.  This whole week I’m going to be featuring some amazing voices in parenting talking about different aspects of gentle parenting.

What is Gentle Discipline?

Gentle discipline is often seen as a short-cut for “not spanking” and while that is certainly part of what it means it has so much more to offer.  Let’s look at some of the definitions of Gentle Discipline:

dis·ci·pline

http://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/d/g/speaker.swf [dis-uh-plin] noun, verb,-plined, -plin·ing

If you read the various definitions at Dictionary.com you’ll find references to punishment, training, rules, behavior, and other terms that, frankly, give me the willies!  I would rather look at the origin of the word –  Discipline comes from the Latin, disciplina meaning instruction and related to discipulus (“pupil”) from discere (“to learn”).  I like Wikipedia’s take that “In its most general sense, discipline refers to systematic instruction given to a discipleTo discipline thus means to instruct a person to follow a particular code of conduct.”  At this level I agree with discipline as my job as a parent.  I hope to guide and help Aellyn discern (“to learn”) about the world.

Wikipedia goes on to say “Usually, the phrase ‘to discipline’ carries a negative connotation. This is because enforcement of order – that is, ensuring instructions are carried out – is often regulated through punishment.”  This is a connotation that has been added to the word over years because of its conflation with punishment.  So what is punishment?

pun·ish

http://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/d/g/speaker.swf [puhn-ish]

–verb (used with object)
1.to subject to pain, loss, confinement, death, etc., as a penalty for some offense, transgression, or fault: to punish a criminal.

2.to inflict a penalty for (an offense, fault, etc.): to punish theft.

Reading this does not inspire me to incorporate punishment into my parenting repertoire.  But, to be fair, maybe this word has also been twisted over the years from its original meaning?  According to Wikipedia, “The word is the abstract substantivation of the verb to punish, which is recorded in English since 1340, deriving from Old French puniss-, an extended form of the stem of punir “to punish,” from Latin punire “inflict a penalty on, cause pain for some offense,” earlier poenire, from poena “penalty, punishment of great loss”. Latin punire possibly was inspired by the Phoenician method of execution by means of crucifixion. Therefore the Carthagian crosses were called signae poenae “signs of the Phoenicians”.

It is hard for me to get off the word “pain” in there but you know what the more significant term is?  Inflict[1. definition of inflict: to impose as something that must be borne or suffered: to inflict punishment.  to impose (anything unwelcome)].  I don’t think that inflicting is something you do to someone you love.  When I get home late from work without calling and my husband is upset at me I don’t want him to inflict anything on me.  I want him to share with me how he feels and work with me to come up with a mutual solution.

Doesn’t my child deserve the same respect and empathy that I want for myself?  This is the heart of Gentle Discipline.  To guide with empathy and respect.

Gentle Discipline 101

Michelle at The Parent Vortex talks about Gentle Discipline in this way,

[G]entle discipline focuses on helping children work through difficult emotions and frustration in a supportive and empathetic environment and using discipline as a method of teaching children instead of simply punishing them for misbehaviour and rewarding them for good behaviour. Gentle discipline does not primarily aim to control children through external motivators such as rewards, praise or punishment, but rather aims to teach children how to control their own behaviour based on their own judgement and motivation.

Michelle also offers a variety of wonderful resources for learning more about gentle discipline.  But watch out!  You might find, as she did, that learning about gentle discipline can change the way you think about everything.

Golden Rule Discipline

Alison at Novel Mama builds on the concept of treating children with love and respect as you would also want to be treated by looking at Jesus’ call to follow what we call the Golden Rule.  She points out,

We would never dream of telling an adult to go sit in time-out and think about what they’ve done, nor would we consider one adult slapping the other as an acceptable way of teaching anything. (And implying that God condoned that slap would be considered by most to be spiritual abuse.) Yet we have no problem banishing children to a corner or a room to sit, alone, rather than getting to the root of their behavior, and many people see no problem with deliberately causing a child physical pain to “get a point across.”

She also asks what effect this has on a relationship,

Do you trust people who deliberately hurt or belittle you? If your husband or wife slapped you or shamed you or sent you off alone every time you exhibited poor behavior, what would your relationship look like?…At the heart of the Golden Rule is the concept of grace. We want it extended to us–why should it not be extended to children as well?

Her article is very well written and speaks to parents regardless of their religious affiliation.

The Power of Praise

Marcy at Mighty Marce talks about the power of praise and reminds us it might not be what you think.

Children instinctively want to please adults, and giving lots of very enthusiastic praise can cause them to start doing things in order to please and get that praise, rather than because they truly want to do them (to use creativity in art as an example, they may start making the kinds of drawings that tend to get them lots of praise, rather than what they may want to draw for their own enjoyment).

In this way, praise, can become another tool of control that we inflict on a child to gain something we want.  Marcy offers some pointers from her experience with the Montessori method and some additional resources for learning more about the power of praise.

Today’s feature posts are a wonderful primer to rethinking the way society tells us to think about discipline.  Throughout the week we will have posts that talk about specific ways to incorporate gentle discipline into your daily life.  Please stop back and visit our feature posters!


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


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