Thursday, April 30, 2009

Permissive parenting v. gentle discipline

This is going to be a little blurb. I'm not up for a huge blog entry today. But I know that some are concerned that not using spanking and/or time-outs seems permissive. Let me be clear. There is a difference between permissive parenting and gentle discipline.

In a permissive household, parents tend to avoid conflict at all cost. Discipline and limits are often missing.

Here's a simple example. Child has been given two cookies for dessert. Child wants more - big suprise there. Child wines, stomps feet, and cries "cookieeeeee." A permissive parent would give the child another cookie in order to avoid the conflict. A parent who uses gentle discipline would let the child know that they can't have another cookie. Personally, I would keep it simple and say something like, "I know you want another cookie. I'm sorry. No more cookies." I'd probably repeat "no more cookies" a couple of times while my little one cries for "cookie." I might try distraction. Although, I've found that once my little one makes up his mind for another cookie he's nearly impossible to distract. If he won't be distracted then I may simply remind him "no more cookie" and turn my attention elsewhere. It doesn't take long for him to get over it. I don't try to reason with him, persuade him, etc... He's not even two - that would go nowhere! I just let it be and he's over it quickly.

Now granted, there are a lot of parenting issues that come up that seem larger than this cookie situation. But gentle discipline can be used in all kinds of situations to set limits. The difference between gentle discipline and permissive parenting is that there is a limit and the parent is willing to set it.

Another example is a toddler who repeatedly stands on the coffee table when that's not allowed in this house. Some might view this as outright disobedience and spank after they've had to remove the child several times - this would be more authoritarian in approach. Personally, I would not feel the need to punish as toddlers routinely test boundaries and also routinely forget instructions. It's part of their developmental level. However, the limit is still there. What this means is that I personally must get off my butt everytime the toddler is on the table and physically remove the toddler from the table. Usually I pair this with a verbal reminder of "feet go on the floor." I also look for ways to distract toddler and get the toddler involved in something other than climbing back onto the coffee table. A permissive parent would let the toddler stand on the table in order to avoid the conflict.

Anyways, I didn't expound as much as I'd like to, but I'm just a little tired this week. But I did want to write something about this as I know that gentle discipline is not permissive in nature.


  1. Great post! We use the same "piggies on the floor" when she is climbing up somewhere she shouldn't be.

  2. Piggies on the floor - that's cute. I like that!