I had an interesting discussion with some mama-friends a few days ago, as their almost two year olds are beginning to leave ‘baby’ behind, and welcoming toddlerhood. We discussed permissive parenting, and how it differs from conscious or positive or a word I really like, mindful parenting, and I wanted to share with you a resource that I found particularly helpful in understanding the desire in my heart – which is to gently parent my daughters – and balancing that against the fear of a thousand voices in my head, telling me I was going to ruin my children by ‘giving in’, by not ‘controlling’ and by treating them as equals. Or in other words, how I could parent them gently without being permissive.
One of the first things you learn as a parent is that what you thought you knew about having children and parenting and what you actually know about them are two different things. One of the biggest lessons for me in parenting has involved ‘shifting paradigms’ and changing my preconditioned ideas to a manner that suits my children better.
In this eBook and accompanying audio-session, Lori Petro discusses Conscious Parenting, what it is, why it matters to children, and looks at some myths about Conscious, Gentle or Positive parenting – the biggest one I’m confronted with in my own life being that these styles are ‘permissive’. (They are not).
Conscious Parenting is a love based philosophy that doesn’t use punitive or ‘reward’ style parenting.
To me, it’s a follow on from Attachment or Natural parenting, and is pretty much the same thing as Gentle Parenting or Positive Parenting.
This audio class isn’t about changing your mind or telling you how to parent, but about equipping people who want to try a different model of parenting – one of love based parenting. It’s not a set of rules for you to follow, and it’s less ‘hippy’ than most people assume, because it’s actually confirmed in a lot of science and research about child development, the developing brain, and how either traditional or conscious parenting affects a young brain.
Parenting isn’t done to a child, it’s a relationship, based on mutual respect and understanding and developed bond.
Lori talks about the two ‘paradigms’ of parenting, the traditional and conscious.
We all know what traditional paradigm says is ‘right’ but in conscious parenting, we work on through empathy, and use guidance instead of control because control breeds resistance. Conscious parenting isn’t about coddling children but about teaching them how to manage their emotions and respect other people by respecting the child.
Speak to your children the way you would to your friends. Parenting without punishment requires connection.
Lori talks about how brain science has really exploded in the last twenty years, and how we now understand so much more about the developing brain, and how it informs so much of our lives – like for instance the fact that car insurance drops at 25, because we’ve (most of us) developed beyond the irrational and impulsive phase that starts in toddlerhood by age 25.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for parents, I think – in our home, at least – is having appropriate expectations. I so often hear my husband say ‘she’s x-years old, she should be able to… ‘ and it’s something we argue about, because you can’t determine development by chronological age, which is something the ABC’s of conscious parenting addresses beautifully too.
Whatever kids experience is what they will give back
A big lesson for me in this talk was about identifying the need that is causing the behaviour. Behaviour being a child’s way of communicating. Lori says, “Start to see behavior as a form of communication and a strategy to meet a basic human need and you’ll begin to find it easier to stay in a place of compassion.”
Finally, this talk also looks at how we can approach the compassionate form of communication with our children, things like empathy, listening and also looking at our own pasts, and dealing with any painful memories from our own parents, so as to build emotional intelligence.
The difference between traditional and conscious paradigms of parenting lies in this: we want children to have an authentic drive to be caring, compassionate, kind etc, rather than to be those things because they are afraid of punishment. That’s where the difference comes in… the focus on behaviour only or the focus on relationship, which leads to desired behaviour.
Lori also gives you five ‘tools’ that you can use, if you want to, to ‘guide’ yourself through difficult interactions with your child.
It’s interesting to me, as I sit here evaluating my own behaviours as a parent, knowing exactly at which moment I have a choice as to whether I’m going to shout or going to follow the non-violent communication model, which I would use without question with students in my adult-classroom, back before children! So now, it’s just about changing my paradigm, and treating my children the same way as I would another adult, in terms of dealing with behaviour. I sure couldn’t lean over a student shouting at them, and mostly, they wouldn’t accept it either. So why, oh why, would it be okay or acceptable to do it to my children.
Taking a little over an hour out of my day to listen to this talk by Lori Petro has given me a lot to think about, and reminded me of some of the areas in which I could do to take a breath and try again.
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