Friday, January 20, 2012

What I Do Instead Of Punishing My Kids

In Why I Don't Discipline My Kids, I talked mostly about what I don't do. I don't use punishments and rewards of any kind to correct or change my children's behavior. It's easy to see why if you can imagine that a child learns any skill in the same way as he learns to walk. It's self-motivated, it doesn't require manipulation.
My children are now (almost) three and five years old. They both know how to walk and run and jump and climb. But before my children learned these things, I carried them or strolled them everywhere. I didn't expect them to get anywhere independently, and I didn't expect them to avoid dangers or get around obstacles without my help. I took full responsibility for keeping my children safe.

Now, I do the same kinds of things for them while they are learning social skills. I take responsibility for their actions to see to try to prevent them from hurting themselves, hurting anyone else, or damaging another person's property.

These are some of the things I do:
I am present with my children as much as possible. I am there to help them handle difficult situations, to navigate around obstacles.
I remove major obstacles from their paths. I keep lots of things around the house that can be played with freely. I put away a few special things that I most want to keep from being broken or lost.
I hold their hands when they need me to. I say please and thank you to others for my children when they forget do so.
I make suggestions for resolution of conflict. I physically stop them from hurting another person when they are unable to stop themselves.
I apologize to my children and to others when something goes wrong. I am truly sorry when I fail to prevent an injury or an insult, or some other kind of damage. I acknowledge that I am only human as well.
I anticipate what their needs will be. I watch for signs of unmet needs. I try to take care of their needs as soon as I can. I offer comfort when I can't do so right away.
I plan for doing things I think my children will enjoy. I cancel or postpone plans when my children indicate they are not up for something I had planned.
I provide plenty of opportunities to rest in between busy times. We spend many days completely and happily in the peace of our own home.
I expect that things will not always go smoothly according to plan. I expect that my children will make choices that are different than mine would be for them.
I let my children have control over their bodies. I give them the freedom to choose how and where to spend their time.
I assume my children are doing the best they can at any given time. I show compassion when the best they can do is not what the world expects of them.
In our house, there is no need for punishment, shame, or manipulation. Instead there is a safe space for mistakes, growth, and learning for all of us.
This post was originally published on a friend's blog: Heart Rockin' Family.