I threatened and punished my children for too long. Now, I am learning to parent respectfully.
“Three more bites or no dessert”. “Do what I say, or I will take away your favorite toy.” I said these things for too long. It was stressful. It was tense. It created anxiety and confusion. Not just for me, but for my children.
I was introduced to another way; an alternative view of my children. It encourages me to listen to my kids and learn about what they like and what makes them comfortable. It reminds me to see life through their eyes, just as I try to do with my husband and sisters and friends.
The struggle for power between my children and I is eliminated when I think this way, along with arbitrary responses and the need to remember which step in a discipline plan comes next. Now when I am in a challenging moment with my children, I am thinking about what makes sense for my child, what will alleviate their discomfort, what will make them feel better.
“How will they learn how to act?” many ask. “You put them in a bubble” others remind me.
It is not my experience that my children act inappropriately or unkindly, or that they cannot handle disappointment or change. Instead, I see that they are adjusting more easily and hearing what is said. I see that their trust toward me is increasing and I witness all of the good thing that come from this.
Life is simpler, and time with my children is more authentic. Rather than the space between us being filled with demands and punishment, it is being taken up with attempts to understand and improve. What am I doing that is different? Instead of threatening time-outs and banning favorite toys, I try to understand what is causing such big emotion. Rather than forcing another bite and not allowing dessert, I realize that sometimes people are not hungry.
I am learning to see my children as people, with feelings and thoughts and emotions, just like anyone else. I am trying harder to listen to them and consider what they are sharing. I am getting rid of arbitrary rules and regulations. This does not mean that our existence is defined by chaos and bedlam. In our experience it has been quite the opposite. We are calmer, more understanding and compassionate. We have more consideration for each other and the world around us.
Now, we are simply living. Just as I do with everyone else who resides in the world. I no longer accept that my children need to be trained. Rather, I understand that they are deserving of love, compassion, understanding and acceptance- just as they are. I treat them as I would want to be treated. Except with more love and affection.
Click here for Gentle Parenting Resources, and here to read 5 Changes I Have Made For My Children.
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