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Your child doesn’t need punishment to learn how to behave

As Peaceful Parents we don’t punish, lecture, manipulate or teach children “a lesson” in the traditional way when it comes to setting limits. At the same time, we who practice Respectful or Peaceful Parenting know how important it is to our children’s well-being and happiness to set clear boundaries and limits. To feel securely rooted, children need limits.

Like Janet Lansbury says so well in one of her blogposts – “Too much freedom actually makes our children feel the opposite of free, and they often express their discomfort through limit-pushing behaviour”

“But how do children learn if we don’t punish them?” “How will children know the difference between right and wrong?” “Don’t all children need to be disciplined if they misbehave?”.

These are common questions that people have that don’t practice respectful or peaceful parenting. People are often shocked or they’ll even laugh in disbelief when I tell them that I believe there is no reason to punish your children, be stern, manipulate, or “teach them a lesson”. You can quite simply set any limit and hold any boundary necessary without raising your voice, shame or punish, and no – our children will not become out of control – just the opposite!

Growing up in this environment

Parenting specialist Dr. Laura Markham, best selling author and founder of AHA Parenting, has for the last 10 years, re-published yearly what she says is her most vide-read article to date. In the article she interviews her two grown children about some of the effects that her peaceful parenting approach had on them (which did not include any punishments).

When the children are asked how they learned to behave if they were never punished for bad behaviour their answer was clear:

“Why would punishment teach you to behave? That just makes kids dislike their parents, and disrespect them. Why would kids follow someone they don’t respect?”

When asked to explain what they meant by “follow” her daughter answered:

“You know, doing what you say.  I know so many kids who had a bad relationship with their parents so they lied and rebelled as soon as they could.  But I didn’t want to break your rules.  I saw the sense in them.  Why wouldn’t I follow what you tell me?”

This interesting article gives us unique insight into the mindsets of young adults that have been brought up in an environment where trust, respect and connection is the platform that the parent-child relationship is built on. A strong relationship with deep connection.

Using the Respectful Parenting approach we set children clear limits with empathy and understanding. We are calm and secure and we trust in the child’s ability to learn life-lessons when allowed to experience natural consequences. We acknowledge the child’s feelings when they are upset or having a hard time at the same time as we hold the limit that we already set. Lastly, we are not scared or intimidated by our children’s big emotions or strong reactions that can be expressed when we set the necessary boundaries and limits.

What are our longterm goals?

Adopting the principles of Respectful or Peaceful Parenting will help your child to grow into their authentic self and helps us raise kids who:

–  Have good self-control and accept limits more easily

– Are able to make the right choice in all kinds of situations, because they want to do the right thing and they want to follow our directions (not only so they won’t get punished)

– See the sense and fairness in our rules and limits and will choose to cooperate

– Who trust us 100% and know that we will always be on their side, with their best interest in mind and willing to see their point of view.

– And lastly, children that who can handle disappointment, are not scared of negative emotions and know how to work through their big emotions in a healthy way.

These are only few things we support in our children when we set empathic limits without the use of punishments or bribes. Then, when parents start seeing the change, when they feel the difference in their own being, in their child’s behaviour and overall happiness there really is no going back to shaming, bribing, punishing and controlling.

Not only do we see that there truly is no need for that kind of communication but more importantly we see that if anything the mainstream method of shaming a child to learn was only working against us.

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