Respectful parenting is all about working together as a team with your children. Our goals are to have children who are invested in being cooperative and helpful because they feel heard, understood, and respected. They feel internally motivated to contribute to the family by helping with chores and taking responsibility for themselves. They feel empathy towards others because it has been shown to them. We do not use physical violence, we do a LOT of talking about feelings, and we work tirelessly on effective communication during conflict. Is it always perfect? Ha! Parenting is hard no matter how you try to do it. We don’t want to reward or punish children, but we sometimes resort to these tactics. We sometimes lose our tempers and yell. And then later, we demonstrate humility. We apologize for our mistakes and discuss what we wish we had done differently. We try to model the types of behavior we hope our children will grow up to display as adults.
Just as my daughter was the catalyst for my interest in healthier eating, she is also the reason I abandoned my notions of old-school parenting (time-outs, sticker charts, grounding) in search of a better, more effective way of guiding her that would preserve the deep connection between mother and daughter. I was flabbergasted that gentle discipline was actually much more effective for a hyperactive, strong-willed, “spirited” child than time-outs and rewards ever had been. Turns out, children respond much better to connection over coercion. Is it easier? Heck no. Is it a worthwhile investment in developing a child’s empathy and problem-solving abilities? Yes, every time yes. Do people often disagree with the way I parent, or at least think it’s not something that would work with their kids? All the time. But has the extra effort I’ve put into this type of parenting given me a better, deeper relationship with my kids? 100% yes.
Learn more about respectful parenting and gentle discipline at these sites:
Aha! Parenting– Gentle discipline advice from Dr. Laura Markham
Happiness is Here: An Australian family living their principles