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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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    Expert Parenting Advice





    I’m an expert in parenting - in a way. Not  in the official documented degree-in-a-frame-on-the-all kind of way; but rather in the nine-years-two-kids-countless-bedtime-bathtime-tantrum-growth spurt-milestone-and-birthday party-kind of way.  So in that way, here is my “expert” parenting advice.


    1) Have patience. For your kids, yourself, and the process of parenting and growth.  The tantrums or sleepless nights or biting or talking back you’re dealing with right now will go away - with time. Have patience; trust the process of time and change.  Your kids - and you - are never stagnant and every day is different.  You’re always changing, learning, growing, getting better at life. Sometimes some things just take a little longer than others.  Have patience. Whether it is patience in the moment (this, too, shall pass), or patience in the long run (okay, “this too, shall pass” also applies here), not fighting the process of time and change, just letting things flow, makes parenting - and living your life - so much easier.  


    2) Choose love. In every parenting decision, choosing love is always the path to take. When you act from a place of love - for yourself, when you decide to step away from the chaos and take that much-needed coffee break, or for your kids - when you hug them in the midst of a breakdown and say, “I understand,” (even if you don’t, quite) instead of sending them to their room, you’ve made the right choice from love.  Kids feel love, speak love, deserve love - and you do too, even if you didn’t get enough of it (especially if you didn’t get enough of it) in your own childhood. Choose love, it’s never the wrong choice.


    3) Be kind. This goes along with number two. Kindness in word and tone and deed - to yourself and your children - makes a big difference in how you and your kids feel. We parents have a tendency to beat ourselves up about decisions we’ve made. Stop doing that. Be kind to yourself, remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can. Be kind to your kids; they learn from - and become - what they see and hear.


    Madame Vigée-Lebrun et Sa Fille by 
    Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun, oil on canvas, 1789.

     

    Have patience. Choose love. Be kind.


    It works for everything, really.

     

    Peace.

     

    Posted: Nov 21 2013, 13:26 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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    Parenthood Elevated to Transcendency





    [Teaching children] the fundamental principles of a moral life is important whether there is a god or not, but especially if not. If this is all there is, and if there is no one out there keeping score, then parenthood is elevated to transcendency.

    ~Michael Shermer, PhD

     

    I try to reassure my children - regardless of the existence of the unknown - what is most important in life is what they do NOW - while they're HERE, living in the present. And, if the unreal becomes real, there will be nothing to worry about when they've acted with love and compassion throughout their lives.

     

    I am okay with not knowing.

     

    I encourage my children to act and react with kindness and empathy to the people and animals around them; to love the earth and tread lightly on it. I try every day to be a bit better than I was the day before, to act always from love (and hope they follow my lead). I help them to have presence; to be present. I want them to feel comfortable with a goal in life of improving their surroundings, for themselves and others with whom they share the world so that when leave this life, they can feel confident in knowing they've left it better than they arrived in it.

     

    And I want them to do these things --- only because they are the right things to do. Not to please me or anyone else. Not because of promised or hoped for reward. But simply because acting from love - doing and being these things - empathetic, improving, kind - are the right things to do. And when you do right, it feels right, inside. I want them to trust that feeling of rightness that comes from acting out of love - it comes from inside, not out.

     

    Regardless of belief, shouldn't we all inspire our children to keep living and improving in their present moment? Because the rest - the past we can't change and the future we don't know - it is all beyond our control.

     

    We can only TRULY know what we can do NOW. And we can do so much.

     

    Unknowing - it isn't frightening; it's amazing. Because we can HAVE peace with presence. Heaven on earth.

     

     

    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.