Thursday, April 21, 2011

Consequences as Punishment

What's Wrong With Consequences to teach kids lessons?

I really enjoyed this article. This is something I'm working hard on and it doesn't come easily to me. Perhaps it's because so much of my life I've been thinking "I'll never spank and because of that I will have a different style of parenting." I think I've spent so much time feeling wonderful that we are a non-spanking household that it's taken me awhile to realize that punishment is punishment whether it's spanking, time-out, consequences, loss of privileges, etc...So while I entered parenthood firmly set against one style of punishment, others were allowed to sneak in like wolves in sheep's clothing! This has been a frustrating realization for me.

I do have positive discipline tools in my toolbox, but I often neglect to use them in favor of a control-based approach that yields quick results. This has been true the more pregnant I've become and the closer to four years old my child becomes. I think positive discipline is much more of a no-brainer when a child is two or younger. It definitely became more challenging at three and has become very very difficult at nearly four. Either that or it's the pregnancy hormones. Either way, I don't want to allow myself to slip into bad habits that will likely be hard to get out of later on.

Perhaps my personal need to feel in control works against my ability to use positive discipline with my child at times. There's also a certain amount of trust in positive discipline because children aren't as apt to respond with immediate compliance as they are with methods that are fear-based. So it's easy to feel like this isn't "working" in the moment. But I plan to hang in there, even if it feels like it's by a toenail at times. I do believe that the benefits of avoiding punishment will be seen in the long-term as I watch my children turn into young adults and make their way in the world. It's just going to take a whole lot of trust!

Lest anyone be confused, I'm not talking about a style of parenting called permissive parenting.

What's Wrong With Permissive Parenting

I absolutely believe in setting limits, saying no to children when it's necessary, and allowing them to experience some not so pleasant natural consequences of their behaviors. I think positive parenting can feel like a line sometimes. I don't want to fall to one side or I'll be using that controlling, authoritarian parenting style that is associated with all kinds of poor psychological and emotional outcomes for children. (Parenting Styles and its Correlates) I don't want to fall to the other side or I'll be using a permissive parenting style that neglects to guide and teach my children.

I will continue to read books and articles that challenge me to be better and hope that someday the lack of punishment and the use of positive discipline in our household becomes more automatic and natural for us as a family.

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