This I Believe: Gentle Discipline

Welcome to the October Carnival of Breastfeeding! This month writers submitted essays in conjunction with the “This I Believe” project. Here’s my essay, followed by links to the other participants.

Gentle Discipline

I believe in gentle discipline. The term “discipline” comes from a word that means “to teach.”

With a baby and young toddler, gentle discipline was relatively easy. I hid away breakable or dangerous items. The “terrible twos” weren’t so terrible if I could anticipate my child’s need for food, rest, or snuggles.

When my older child was three, she turned the tables and taught me that I needed to re-think my discipline techniques and that different things work for different ages. I initially gave her “time out” for a few minutes on the stairs to remove her from a bad situation and give her time to think about what she had done. I soon realized that all she thought about was how mad she was at me! I talked to a friend who used what she called “time in.” Time in involved getting down on my daughter’s level and holding her if she wanted that, and talking about the kind of behavior that was acceptable and not acceptable. I realized that many times when my child was acting up, she was really looking for more attention from me. It was a lot better for both of us if I gave her positive attention in the first place, and refrained from negative attention like yelling and shaming. Clearly, we were both learning and growing!

I still face challenges every day as my children change and grow. Right now I have a hard time with the whining, that grating and annoying, “Mom! Give me that! But I want it! Pleeeease can I have it? Why can’t I have it?” When I am able to be patient, I model the tone and words I would like to hear. “Mom, may I please have that?” When I make a mistake and raise my voice, I apologize to my child. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. Sometimes moms make mistakes too.” It’s not easy, but that’s probably one of the most important things I can teach my children.

I have taken a lot of comfort in the fact that each day is a new day, and each day I can choose to use gentle discipline. I can start over again if I don’t quite achieve my goal, and I can learn new and improved methods of gentle discipline from my children and my friends.

Other Carnival Participants (updated throughout the day)

Breastfeeding Mums: Breastfeeding Education
Half Pint Pixie: Breastfeeding Is Natural But Not Always Easy
The Lactivist: The Things Worth Doing in Life are Hard
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: I Believe in Instinct
Ashley Benz: You Do Not Have to Be a Breastfeeding Mother to Support Breastfeeding
Crunchy Domestic Goddess: Trusting My Parenting Instincts

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    • Half Pint Pixie

      I like the concept of “time in”. Littlepixie is fast approaching one, and I’m finding myself thinking about all this now. I think gentle discipline will be our path, I can see her teaching us just as much as we teach her!

    • Sinead@BreastFeedingMums

      Gentle discipline is such a lovely way to try to bring up your children.

      As parents we have to try to learn how to get the balance right between being too strict and being a walkover!

      I love your “time in” solution and will try that approach next time my children need to be disciplined… It sounds so much more appropriate than “time out”. Thanks Angela.

    • Ashley Benz

      I LOVE the idea of time-in! I often wonder when I see an adult yelling at a child what good they think they are doing.

    • tanya@motherwearblog

      Oh, I wish I had your patience! Gentle discipline is definitely what we aspire to…

    • Isil Simsek

      Thanks for this inspiring post!I also loved the idea of “time-in”.

    • Crunchy Domestic Goddess

      great post. i like the idea of a time-in too. we tend to alternate between the time-in and time-out, depending on the situation and what works at the moment. i think so much of parenting and discipline is about being flexible and doing what works.

      thanks for sharing this. :)

    • MomOnTheGo

      It’s good to learn what other people have in their discipline toolbox. I’m not convinced that time outs are a panacea but could see a time in working.

      By the way, I wrote a “This I believe” post today. I would have done it yesterday but fell asleep nursing my daughter.

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