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    38 Alternatives to Punishment





    Starting on my parenting journey years ago, I found this list* of alternatives to punitive discipline, printed it out, and hung it where I could see it every day. It's not perfect, but it's a good place to start. If you want to stop spanking, if you want to parent more peacefully, if you want to feel more connected with your kids, you CAN. Let go of the need to punish, let go of that feeling of having to "teach a lesson" when your child does something you're not fond of. A little empathy, trust in the natural human learning process, and a lot of love goes a long way. I hope this helps you move along your own peaceful parenting path.


    ALTERNATIVES TO PUNISHMENT

    Use positive reinforcement.

    Create a positive environment.

    Say yes as much as possible.

    Save no for the important things.

    Use natural consequences.

    Use logical consequences.

    Use restitution.

    Leave it up to your child.

    Compromise.

    State your expectations, and get out of the way.

    Give specific instructions.

    Give a reason.

    Offer help.

    Give a choice.

    Redirect your child.

    Remove your child.

    Make positive statements.

    Give in occasionally.

    Give your child time to agree.

    Simply insist.

    Make rules.

    Ignore some behavior.

    Avoid nagging and threats.

    Distract your child.

    Use humor.

    Make it a game.

    Be willing to admit your mistakes.

    Stop and think before you act.

    Don't make a big fuss over little things.

    Stick to routines.

    Don't hurry your children too much.

    Get to the root of the problem.

    Correct one behavior at a time.

    Give yourselves time.

    Use the golden rule.

    Model appropriate behavior.

    Think of your child as an equal.

    Always keep your love for your child in mind.

     

    *from the book, Natural Family Living by Peggy O'Mara

    Posted: Dec 18 2013, 09:56 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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    How to Stop a Tantrum






    When a child is having a tantrum, is it really our job as a parent to physically stop that tantrum or punish a child for having one? I say no. Our job is to acknowledge the tantruming child’s upset, to give them words for feelings they may not have experienced before (or just don’t know how to express), to help guide their anger or frustration or extra energy in a productive way, and to keep them and those around them safe in the process.  But those emotions - expressed as a temper tantrum - they BELONG to your child, not to you. You aren’t responsible for your child’s feelings, and It isn’t your job to stop them emoting. You are responsible for keeping them safe, but curtailing or punishing expression of emotion isn’t healthy in the short or long term!


    A tantrum is an expulsion of energy and emotion from a child who doesn’t yet have a full understanding of the range of human emotions, nor the knowledge or control to express them in a reasonable manner. Sometimes a tantrum comes from a child wanting to say something, but not having the right words. Sometimes they are overstimulated. Sometimes, they’re just plain tired. Kids are NEW to all of these things - excitement, fear, large groups of people, boredom, jealousy, anger, frustration, feeling super tired but not being in their bed… and the list goes on. Children are new to the WORLD! They are still learning - everything.  

    Of course, tantrums aren’t fun. And they usually aren’t convenient. But they are normal, and can be awesome learning experiences!  Here are some ideas to help you help your child navigate a tantrum:


    1) Practice patience. Both for yourself, and for your child. Seeing you calm in the midst of her storm is an awesome lesson to be teaching. Remember no tantrum lasts forever; this storm will pass - so it’s really okay to allow your child room and to express themselves. As long as they aren’t in danger of being hurt, or hurting someone else, there’s no harm in kicking the floor for a bit. If it’s upsetting to you, give yourself some space. If you’re worried about your child getting hurt, gently move them to a safer spot, or if they’re bigger, suggest they move themselves (this is something that’s great to be talked about ahead of time - when things are calm - choosing a “calming spot” or a place that’s okay to kick around in).


    2) Acknowledge their feelings. Let them know you understand through your words & actions (and in doing so, you’re giving them words to describe how they feel) by describing what you see:

    I see you are upset because I didn’t let you have a cookie.

    I can tell you’re really frustrated because the game didn’t end up the way you wanted.

    I know you’re not feeling great right now because your friend can’t come play.

    I hear you are really angry because I changed my mind about our plans.


    3) Empathize. When you’re not feeling good, it helps to know you’re not alone. Let your child know you’ve been there:

    I know how it feels to be mad; I get mad sometimes too.

    It isn’t fun when we have to stop playing; I don’t like to be interrupted either.

    It stinks to feel left out.


    4) Accept them. Let them know it’s okay, emotions are normal, and that no matter what happens, you love them:

    It’s okay to feel bad sometimes, and it won’t last forever.

    It’s alright that you’re upset, that’s normal to feel that way when something happens that you don’t like.

    It’s okay to get angry at me, I love you even when you’re angry.


    5) Wait. You DON’T have to teach anything in the middle of a tantrum. You can wait it out. Once the storm has passed… THEN you can talk about what happened. Or, you can leave it. Sometimes a kid just needs a release, and moving on can be in everyone’s best interest. A hug, a high five, or a pat on the back, then continuing with your day may be just what’s needed. Another time, apart from the emotional event might be a better point to discuss what to do next time.


    If and when you do choose to talk about the tantrum, here are some ideas:


    1) Remember the good stuff. Don’t hang on to the bad feelings or even the why’s of what happened, instead, bring up what they did right.  If your child used words you’ve been working on, praise them for that, if they took themselves to their quiet area without being reminded, let them know you appreciated that:

    I heard you say that you were really frustrated. Thank you so much for using those words, I really understood what you were feeling!

    I noticed that when you were so angry, you went up to your room. I bet you felt proud to recognize your feelings and choose to move yourself to your calming spot.

    I saw you kicked your pillow instead of your sister. That was really good self control, thank you for not hurting anyone.


    2) Suggest alternatives. If your child tends to be destructive during a tantrum - throwing or breaking things or kicking, think about some things that they could physically do that would be OKAY with you, like (suggesting SOFT stuff ahead of time may help direct their behaviors towards those things):

    Hitting a pillow or punching a punching bag

    Lying on the bed or couch & kicking

    Tossing/kicking stuffed animals into a laundry basket


    3) Talk about prevention. It’s amazing to see a child recognize they are getting angry or upset, and refocus their energy BEFORE they have a tantrum. It is possible! Giving your kids some ideas for getting their feelings out without hurting themselves, others, or damaging things around them. Let them know those feelings are real, but they will pass, particularly if they are able to focus them onto something else. Some ideas:

    Building a fort with pillows and blankets

    Rolling, pounding, sculpting clay or playdoh

    Drawing - can be about how they feel or not - just the action of drawing can help

    Weaving potholders or rainbow loom rubber band bracelets

    Stacking blocks or building legos

    Acting out how they feel or what happened to make them feel angry/sad with dolls/Barbies

    Meditating or reading


    When we are tired as adults, we take ourselves to a place we can rest. We we are frustrated or angry, we say so. When we’re overstimulated, we say goodnight, and leave the party. ;) We’ve had years and years of practice at recognizing how we feel, and learning how to curb it, act on it productively, or express it without hurting others or ourselves - emotionally or physically (and sometimes, we even fail). Your kids are new at all of this. Give them the tools to succeed and... give them time to figure it out. Work with them to find solutions, and things will get easier.

     

    Peace.

    Posted: Nov 25 2013, 23:45 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    National Spank Out Day - Alternatives to Spanking





    Today is National Spank Out Day!

     

    What does that mean? It's a day devoted to NOT using physical punishment with your kids. Now, not spanking doesn't mean not disciplining. But what can you do instead of spanking, especially if you have spanked in the past? Some ideas on how to discipline gently:

     

    1) Breathe, stop a moment, focus on yourself before responding to your child. Think about the message you're about to give. Will it help your child? Will it come out in a way you'll feel good about later? Say what you want to say in a way that YOU would want to hear it.

    2) Give a hug or a gentle touch; or just get down on the floor with your child - being at the same level can be calming & give you perspective.  We adults can look really big - and scary - when we're standing up.

    3) Acknowledge big feelings: "I understand you are VERY frustrated right now". And your own, too: "I'm feeling angry too". Empathize with the feelings, and demonstrate how to move through them gently, without force. You are your child's first and best teacher. How would you WANT your child to act when they are angry? Act that way.

    4) Offer a choice, instead of an ultimatum: "Do you want to put your toys away yourself, or would you like some help?" Choice is empowering and motivating.

    5) Distract & redirect. Get everyone out the door for a walk, take a bath, make cookies. You don't need to be in "behavior correction" mode all the time. Give yourself and your child a break.  When you're back to feeling good, being connected, then you can talk about the behavior that happened earlier in the day.

    6) Fake it. Gentle discipline and mindful parenting in the face of a temper tantrum can be really REALLY hard; but it's very worthwhile. But, sometimes you have to fake it to make it. Pretend the "best parent in the world" is watching; what would you like them to see? Do that. The way you feel afterwards - knowing you were just a superhero in the face of a really difficult situation - will give you the power to do it again next time, without having to pretend.

    7) Forgive. Be gentle with yourself, as you'd like to be with your child. You won't always "get it right"; but you're trying - and your child will see that. Forgive yourself, and move on. Next time, you'll do better.

     

    I hope you'll use today to try an alternative to spanking. Keep in mind that whatever lesson you want to teach can be more effectively communicated when you are BOTH calm & connected. Cool off, calm down - you'll be more creative and your child will be more responsive.  Connection is what good relationships is all about. When you connect with your child, helping correct behaviors will be so much easier.  You can do this!

     

    Peace to you.

     

    Sit With Your Anger





    I read a book with my son last night, Anh's Anger (written by Gail Silver; illustrated by Christiane Kromer), that was absolutely wonderful.  It's about a young boy, Anh, who is stacking blocks when his grandfather tells him it's time for dinner. As many young boys who are in the middle of playing, he didn't want to stop playing. He gets very angry, and knocks down his tower, which makes him even more angry (anyone ever experience this with young boys? Yes, I thought so) . His grandfather acknowledges that he's upset, then gently requests that he sit with his anger, then rejoin him when he's calm. While on his own, Anh meets his anger in the form of a big red snaggle-toothed monster. They bang around a bit, vocalize, dance, and then sit and breathe. And as they sit and breathe, anger gets smaller, and Anh gets calmer. They talk about who anger is and why he's there, and how they can help each other. And once Anh is calm, he and his grandfather reconcile, and life continues on.

     

    Sit with your anger.

     

    What amazingly simple, perfect advice. Something that I don't typically do; I'd venture that's true MOST people. I'd say more often than not, we act on our anger right away - which can result in doing or saying things we wouldn't have otherwise done or said, and consequently, feeling badly afterwards. When you can acknowledge your anger, work with it creatively, and try to understand it, it's far less scary. You can become an observer, analyzing, considering, and then releasing.


    (image credit: amazon.com)

     

    So what does sit with your anger mean to a child?

     

    In our post-reading conversation, my nearly 6 year old was able to recognize Anh's monster was not a "real" thing, but rather a representation of the feelings we get when we are angry. He understood the message was that it's okay to FEEL angry, but that you shouldn't act out in anger towards someone or something else - even when you felt like it. He said that it was okay to express your anger in ways that didn't hurt anyone (even yourself) until you were calm enough to think a bit about it; in other words, to have a conversation with your monster. And then, once you've had the conversation, to breathe in, breathe out, calm, and come back to being yourself. He really enjoyed the book as we were going through it, and it inspired some fantastic post-read discussion as well.

    (image credit: gailsilverbooks.com)

     

    The illustrations are bright & simple - charcoal, paint, and collage elements. At ~30 pages (of words & illustrations), I found it just the right length for a bedtime story (and plenty of conversation afterwards).

     

    We all struggle at times with our anger - and our children, who are so new in this world, can often find anger frightening and overwhelming. Heck, so can adults. This book is the perfect springboard for talking with your kids about creative expression of anger - without shame, without punishment - you just might find yourself examining your own ways of dealing with anger. And that can only be a good thing for everyone.

     

    Peace to you.

     

    Go to Your Baby





    Don't stand unmoving outside the door of a crying baby whose only desire is to touch you. Go to your baby.

    ~Peggy O'Mara

     

    The latest article from Time magazine on baby sleep has me upset. (Of course, it does seem that's what they're aiming for recently. Remember the skerfuffle they caused over the "scandalous" breastfeeding cover?) The thing with this particular article however, is that it goes a step further than just ruffling feathers, or causing a stir. I'm afraid it may take what many parents may be on the edge of doing, and give them that little push over. What am I talking about? 

    Crying it out.

    Crying it out, or controlled crying, is the practice of leaving your baby to cry herself to sleep - usually at gradually increasing timed intervals - in an effort to "train" her to sleep on her own. Forced independence. There are myriad books and websites and doctors and parents and websites that will help steel you against your babies cries, encourage you to "be tough", and "not give in", leading you to believe that overriding your natural, instinctual NEED to GO to your crying baby, is the right thing to do... in order to "prevent spoiling your baby".

    (photo source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/iskir/)

    Have you ever listened to your baby cry, when you couldn't get to her? Maybe you were in another room, helping an older sibling, or driving your car. It's uncomfortable, physically difficult, painful even. If you're breastfeeding, your breastmilk may letdown, you start breathing faster, your heartrate picks up, you sweat, feel nervous, uncomfortable, unable to focus or settle down. You have those responses because you NEED to go to your baby - it's biologically part of your make up, that connection with your infant. She needs to communicate, just like you need to listen. She's not manipulating you, and you're not giving in, you're both just doing what you're supposed to do to help this tiny human thrive and survive. Without that inadvertant response, our species might be in danger. So, why does this Time magazine article suggest that it's OKAY to leave your baby to cry?

    Because I believe as a society we've come to lose faith in ourselves as baby interpreters. We don't trust our baby's ability to communicate, nor our ability to respond. We don't believe that they'll learn how to sleep unless WE  "do something" to get them there. And yet… we don't actively TEACH our children to talk. We don't TRAIN our children to walk. We trust they'll come to do that on their own. I believe it is time to start trusting that our babies will learn to sleep just as they learn to walk and talk - with gentle encouragement, empathy, guidance, honor, and love.

    It comes down to trust. It's time to start trusting yourselves again, parents. Trust your baby. She knows how to communicate, and you know how to listen to her. You know deep down what FEELS right. Honor that feeling, don't ignore it! You WILL learn each others' language, and baby WILL sleep; it doesn't take training or timers or turning a deaf ear.

    (photo source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/dianabeato/)

    Believe me: this short time when she's not sleeping as much as you'd like…It WILL be gone in a flash. And you will feel SO GOOD to know you LISTENED to her when she cried for you, that you HONORED her feelings, that you TRUSTED yourself AND her. Don't let "studies" sway you.

    You want to go to your baby. So, go to her.

     

    Posted: Oct 23 2012, 23:39 by kelly | Comments (12) RSS comment feed |
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