Many parents these days are learning how to be more peaceful, gentle and understanding with their children.
Learning about peaceful parenting is a great thing, because not only is it a better way of raising children into adulthood, I believe that a more peaceful world begins at home and in the way we are raising our kids.
But for the beginner, or a parent who is new to peaceful parenting, it can be a real challenge trying to learn how to raise children peacefully, because there is so much to unlearn and so much conditioning to undo.
It’s Time To Unlearn The Old Parenting Paradigm
The old conventional paradigm, which a vast majority of parents are still following, says that you must get tough at times, and that you have to get physical and teach kids a lesson they won’t forget. And how does this old-school authoritarian approach say to teach them this unforgettable lesson? By being violent and abusive with them in some form or another.
Unfortunately, because that’s the way most of us were raised, it’s not always easy for a parent to switch from the conventional approach to more loving, understanding and peaceful strategies.
10 Things for Every Beginner to Peaceful Parenting to Know
Whether you are a parent, a grand-parent, a caregiver or in any capacity helping with raising children, here are the top things I believe every beginner to peaceful parenting should know.
1) There will be times when it seems like it isn’t working
You will have moments where you’ll doubt peaceful parenting. Especially if you’re completely new to this, and if you’re surrounded by naysayers and doubters.
It’s ok to question and have doubts, but my recommendation is to stick with it. Consider joining my Facebook group Peaceful Parenting Community (and other gentle parenting groups) for support and to have any questions answered.
I had some doubts early on as a parent. After all, I was just a new father at the time, and who was I to question or challenge all the conventional and established practices being handed along to generation after generation? But I stayed with it, and I am glad I did, as I now see clearly how much better it is for my son, for his family, and for everyone he interacts with.
2) Peaceful parenting is better for your children than conventional approaches.
Peaceful parenting is a better approach than the conventional, authoritarian ways, and the research backs this up.
Children raised without the stress of an angry, hostile and physically punitive parent grow up happier, more self confident and with greater emotional intelligence, among other positive aspects.
But children who are raised with spanking and yelling and more adverse childhood experiences are more likely to be depressed, to be less self assured, and even to have a greater chance of various physical sicknesses in their lifetime.
The research is there, and that’s why you should stick with peaceful parenting.
3) Peaceful parenting really is peaceful.
Peaceful parenting is completely non-violent. Which means no spanking, no slapping, no smacking, and no hitting or any form of physical punishment at all. It wouldn’t be called “peaceful” parenting if there was any kind of violence going on.
Being peaceful can also refer to being peaceful with words and with how we treat our children in general. So we also avoid threats, harsh judgments, put-downs or other unkind criticisms.
4) Peaceful parenting is not permissive parenting.
Just because there is no spanking or hitting or physical abuse going on, doesn’t mean that limits can’t be set and lessons can’t be taught. It just means that there are others ways of teaching lessons and showing children what is considered appropriate or inappropriate behavior.
Peaceful parenting doesn’t mean we simply remain calm and gentle, and then just let our kids have their way and do anything and everything they want to do.
Peaceful parents are very involved in setting limits, showing where boundaries are, and what behaviors are acceptable. It’s just not done with any violent behavior or tough, aggressive attitudes.
5) It is possible to teach children without getting tough with them.
For many parents it just doesn’t seem possible sometimes that peaceful, gentle parenting can actually work. Or, they doubt their resolve to remain gentle and calm. There is a belief that at a certain point, parents have to get tough with their kids, otherwise kids will never learn.
It’s never necessary to get tough with your kids. I’ve written an article just on this topic alone.
Getting tough might teach your kids to be afraid of you, and by doing so you might gain momentary compliance with them. But in the long run, being mean and getting tough always does more damage than good. Stay peaceful, stay calm, stay understanding.
6) Parenting is often more about the parent than it is about the child.
Parenting is often more about yourself, and what you need to work on. To become the kind of person that can be more peaceful and more understanding, and less triggered and less reactive with your children.
Sometimes, instead of trying to fix our kids, we need to turn inward and see what needs fixing within ourselves.
When we can fix the issues and heal the wounds within ourselves as parents, we are better able to help our children deal with their issues and their hurts.
7) Connection with our children is the most important thing.
Kids need to feel connected with us. When they don’t feel connected is when they begin to act inappropriately or get defiant towards us.
Many parenting coaches refer to acts of inappropriate or unacceptable behavior as “disconnected” behavior, as a reminder of the fact that the unwanted behavior is really indicating feelings of a loss of connection.
Keeping the connection strong preserves the parents strong influence with their children, and as a bonus, it gives parents a superpower-like ability to get compliance with kids when needed. I say “superpower-like ability” to refer to the fact that it can sometimes seem surprising at first, when children actually just go and do what you’ve asked them to do, simply because they are feeling close and connected with you. Yes, even when they don’t want to (such as pick up their toys after playing with you for awhile).
8) Empathy is the #1 go-to technique when things aren’t working well.
When things seem to be blowing up, when kids refuse to listen or are struggling with doing the thing you ask them or need them to do, empathizing is the approach to take.
In every situation, whether it’s trying to get your kids to brush teeth, or to get out of the house on time, or to do anything they don’t want to do, empathize with their feelings, instead of arguing and battling with them.
Saying “I know you don’t want to” or “I understand how you feel” are great ways of showing empathy and understanding.
There may be times when it seems like empathy isn’t working or doesn’t help. Those are often the same times when deep and genuine empathy is needed the most. When your children are so upset and frustrated over something, it’s important to not let yourself get just as upset and frustrated.
Pull your child into your world of calm and understanding, instead of letting yourself be pulled into their emotional turbulence. How to do that? With empathy and a strong connection.
9) Be gentle with yourself.
Your own calm, loving, understanding and compassionate presence is not only great for your kids, but it’s good for you too.
Forgive yourself for the mistakes you make, apologize to your kids when needed, learn to let things go and move on. It’s important to not dwell in any kind of negativity, particularly when it’s a bad attitude towards yourself.
Keep in mind that most of us weren’t raised with peaceful parenting, which means we don’t know how to do this, day in and day out. We often don’t have the example to remember in our minds of what the peaceful approach would be. It’s important to not beat ourselves up for making mistakes, and for not knowing what to do in every situation.
10) Perfection is not the goal.
If your goal is to be a perfect parent, it’s not going to happen. Nobody is perfect and everyone will make mistakes.
So if not perfection, than what is the goal? Here are a few to consider:
- Progress. One alternate goal I suggest is progress instead of complete perfection. To be more peaceful and loving with our kids, knowing that it will give them a greater chance of happiness and fulfilment in their lives.
- Learning. Another goal could be to learn something new every day, about ourselves and about our children. Having an attitude of curiosity and openness, instead of stubbornness and disinterest.
- Self acceptance. I suggest self-acceptance being one goal, because we can be more accepting of our children (and their imperfections and inadequacies), when we are more accepting of ourselves.
- Forget about goals entirely – and just focus on doing the best you can with your kids.
And there you have it. 10 things every peaceful-parenting beginner should know.
If you have any questions, or a suggestion of your own for something a beginner to peaceful parenting should know, please leave a comment below.
For further reading and information, have a look at my top recommended books on parenting.
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I’m also on Twitter at twitter.com/EricDGreene
– Eric @ 1 Awesome Dad
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