Should you stop shout­ing at your tod­dler and em­brace this par­ent­ing style that’s all about pos­i­tiv­ity and re­spect? DR RICHARD C. WOOLF­SON shares how it’s done.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

Is peace­ful par­ent­ing the right dis­ci­pline method for you?

You may be at­tracted to the ap­proach of “peace­ful par­ent­ing”, which is based on pos­i­tive prin­ci­ples and mu­tual re­spect be­tween par­ent and child. But you are afraid that this means let­ting your child do what­ever he wants.

Rest as­sured – al­though it is a non-con­fronta­tional way of in­ter­act­ing with your child, it does not mean giv­ing him free rein. Nei­ther should it be con­fused with ne­glect­ful par­ent­ing (“I don’t care what you do”) or in­dul­gent (“I want you to do what­ever you want.”)

Here are the key prin­ci­ples of peace­ful par­ent­ing:

Un­der­stand­ing, not re­act­ing

Your two-yearold’s be­hav­iour is his way of ex­press­ing his in­ner needs. Peace­ful par­ent­ing sug­gests that in­stead of re­act­ing im­me­di­ately to, for ex­am­ple, his de­mand­ing be­hav­iour, you pause to con­sider why he is be­hav­ing that way.

Maybe it is be­cause he is bored, or per­haps he wants your at­ten­tion.

By manag­ing him from that per­spec­tive, you are more likely to reach a peace­ful so­lu­tion than if you sim­ply re­act by rep­ri­mand­ing him.

Self-dis­ci­pline, not pun­ish­ment

When a child thinks about the ef­fect of his ac­tion on other peo­ple, he is less likely to act im­pul­sively, ag­gres­sively and selfishly. In­stead of pun­ish­ing your tod­dler for his mis­con­duct, peace­ful par­ent­ing sug­gests that you en­cour­age him to think about his way of be­hav­ing: Why did he do so? How did that af­fect your or his sib­lings? What could he have done dif­fer­ently?

By do­ing so, you en­cour­age him to de­velop self-dis­ci­pline, and you stop re­ly­ing on pun­ish­ment and re­wards to han­dle him.

Good com­mu­ni­ca­tion, not com­mands

When you shout at your child, his in­stinc­tive self-pro­tec­tive re­sponse is to stop lis­ten­ing. Peace­ful par­ent­ing sug­gests that you stay calm and be in con­trol of your own emo­tions at all times.

To help your tod­dler be­have, en­gage his at­ten­tion. Sit him be­side you and gen­tly touch him so he feels safe and loved. Then, ex­plain clearly how you want him to con­duct him­self. Com­mu­ni­cat­ing with him this way makes it more likely that he’ll ac­tu­ally lis­ten to you.

Clear lim­its, not con­fu­sion

Your tod­dler re­sponds best when he knows ex­actly what he can and can­not do, so peace­ful par­ent­ing sug­gests that you set very clear lim­its and that you calmly ex­plain these to your child be­fore and af­ter he shows poor man­ners.

When he un­der­stands why he isn’t al­lowed to do some­thing – for ex­am­ple, you won’t let him climb on the kitchen ta­ble be­cause he could fall and hurt him­self – he starts to con­sider the con­se­quences of his be­hav­iour. Chil­dren are more at­ten­tive to rules when they un­der­stand them.

Re­mem­ber: It’s up to you to choose the par­ent­ing ap­proach that best suits you and your fam­ily.

Co­op­er­a­tion, not con­trol

A rule-based par­ent­ing ap­proach can set par­ent and child in op­po­si­tion to each other, so peace­ful par­ent­ing sug­gests that you and your lit­tle one work co­op­er­a­tively to solve dif­fi­cul­ties to­gether.

For ex­am­ple, if you see that he is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly frus­trated and his anger is build­ing, calm him down. Sit to­gether and try to find out what is caus­ing him to feel so dis­tressed. This type of dis­cus­sion, based on re­spect for your child, puts con­trol to one side in pref­er­ence for co­op­er­a­tion.

“Do as I do”, not “do as I say”

If you tell your child that he can’t do some­thing, and then a few min­utes later he see you do­ing ex­actly that, he’ll be con­fused. He may think to him­self: “If it’s good enough for Mummy, then it must be good enough for me.”

Peace­ful par­ent­ing sug­gests that you al­ways set a good ex­am­ple for your tod­dler to model. It helps you show him what he should do rather than rep­ri­mand him for what he shouldn’t do.

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