Thursday, January 17, 2013

Does Peaceful Parenting Mean Permissiveness?

Some animals have babies who are fine on their own from day one. Some animals, including humans, need their parents for a great deal of their first couple of decades living. Human babies need food, to be carried, sleep, closeness with a caregiver, and more. We do not leave our infants unattended, nor do we assume a five year old can drive a car on his own. A child has only had a few years on this earth, yet the adult has had decades of experience int his world.

In light of this common knowledge, it always surprises me when anyone thinks a child should automatically know what is expected of them and bend to a parent's rules. Often the parent rules have nothing to do with safety and are specific to the parent's preferences. For example I prefer not to have screaming in the house because it gives me a headache, yet my husband is fine with loud noise as long as it is not during his work day. Either I leave the room if he is engaged in loud play with the children and it bothers me or we head outside to be loud there. There may be a time when I remind the children that it is not yet time to be so loud because their father is still working upstairs and they calm their voices.

I am not big on punishment at all. I prefer to show my children what I do, tell them what I expect, and repeat myself when necessary. Many people think peaceful parenting means your kids can do whatever they want whenever they want. This is not true. This type of parenting means you work together as a family unit to help everyone have a peaceful life while learning about compromise, safety, and helpfulness. The truth is that if you are proactive rather than reactive, your children will respond more positively over time than if you do the opposite. I look for ways to help my children handle stress and energy in a positive way before those issues become too much for the child to bear and he or she acts out in a way I find irritating or unsafe. Keep in mind that nothing happens automatically. Humans need time to process, think, and learn. Mutual respect, modeling choices, and patience can go a long way.

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