Why We Chose Peaceful Parenting

There are many factors that contribute to the way we choose to parent our children. We are often influenced by our own upbringing, as well as by societal factors and pressures. My husband and I are hesitant to openly discuss what we have chosen as our parenting style because when we do, we receive a lot of negative feedback.

I spanked my kid and they are fine.

I was spanked and I turned out normal.

Your kid is going to walk all over you.

Holding your child during a tantrum is just reinforcing it.

If your child bites, bite him back.

We have decided to take a more peaceful route of parenting. Our parenting style may change over time and may change with future kids. I know that what works for us now may not work forever, or in every situation. However, physical punishment has never made much sense to me. I don’t hit my husband when he angers me. Additionally, hitting is one of the undesirable behaviors in our children. So, why would we hit them in an attempt to “correct” them? I always think of the ironic example of spanking a child for hitting a sibling. It just doesn’t make sense to me. So, I’ve decided not to do it.

The biting example is a big one as well. If I had a dime for every time someone told me to bite him back I would be rich. I am not biting my child. Bottom line. My son bites because he is not verbal yet. He is also experiencing a lot of teething pain and often sees flesh as a reasonable teether. He has no way to express himself other than physically or with the occasional grunt. I however, am a grown adult. Thus, no need for biting to get my point across.

Tantrums… oh the tantrums! Whoever coined the term “terrible twos” obviously forgot to include the fact that this stage really lasts from about 12 months-4 years old. My son has just recently begun the tantrum stage but boy did it come on full-force. When one arrives, we let it ride its course, acknowledge his feelings, and help him calm down. Again, he is not talking yet so tantrums are another way for him to express himself. When he is tired, frustrated, annoyed, etc., sometimes the only way to convey that is through a tantrum. If I get worked up, angry, or anxious, he is going to notice. Toddlers are surprisingly perceptive. If we want our kids to learn how to react in an emotionally appropriate way, we have to model that!

We are attempting to adopt a more gentle type of discipline. Now, don’t get me wrong — we make mistakes in our discipline daily. It is a constant learning experience and we have to continually remind ourselves and each other of peaceful alternatives to yelling, getting angry, spanking, etc. I am definitely a very reactive person and it is difficult for me to not discipline out of anger. My son’s daycare has actually helped me a lot with this because they employ a lot of positive discipline techniques and they encourage the kids to learn how to react and adjust appropriately to things that upset them.

I think that one of the most important habits parents can adopt is giving your child room to experience their feelings (i.e. don’t say things like “stop crying,” “suck it up,” “only babies cry”), validate their feelings, acknowledge that their feelings are normal, empathize, and then offer some alternative solutions to dealing with those feelings. When children feel listened to, they are much more likely to cooperate — just like adults!

Our toddler is beginning to display several very challenging behaviors including:

Tantrums

Biting

Defiance

Ignoring “NO”

We receive a lot of “advice” on how we should be dealing with those behaviors. When any of those behaviors occur in public or in front of friends and family, I can always feel a few judgmental glances in response to our choice of dealing with the issues. I know we will make mistakes. Sometimes it takes several different techniques to divert the undesirable behavior. Every child is different, and what works in one family may not work in another. The most important thing to remember is that {for the most part} people are doing the best they can. Giving dirty looks, giving unsolicited advice, or making snide or judgmental comments doesn’t help.

I remember several years ago, I saw a child {probably around 3 years old} throwing a huge tantrum at a park because his mother told him it was time to leave. I remember being so appalled when she just sat there calmly every now and then saying something to the child like, “take a deep breath.” Why didn’t she just spank him and throw him in the car? Is she not embarrassed of the scene he is making?

Now that I have a toddler, I am extremely impressed with the patience she was displaying by not feeding negatively into the tantrum. She knew that yelling or threatening physical punishment would probably just escalate the tantrum. Instead, she just calmly waited it out. Eventually he stopped and she said, “Okay, are you ready to go now?” She picked him up with no objection and he laid his head against her as she walked them to the car. I was not educated on the subject at the time, but looking back, I know that she was definitely employing peaceful parenting techniques. The easy route would have been to divert a public scene, yell, or spank, and leave. However, she decided against the “quick fix” technique and I greatly admire her for that.

Parenting

If you are interested in more information on Peaceful Parenting techniques check out these resources:

When Things Get Physical: Hitting, Throwing, Kicking & Biting

No Drama Discipline

Aha! Parenting

Should I Spank My Child?

Positive Strategies for Better Behaved Kids

Positive Parenting: What Really Helps Children During Tantrums

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12 Responses to Why We Chose Peaceful Parenting

  1. Charlotte Velasco June 15, 2015 at 9:53 am #

    Awesome article, Sarah!

    • Sarah
      Sarah June 15, 2015 at 10:04 am #

      Thank you Charlotte!!

  2. Sandra Lagunas June 16, 2015 at 10:51 am #

    Am going through some toddler tantrums… ( hitting ) is the main one at the moment ..
    Love the Article….

    • Sarah
      Sarah June 18, 2015 at 10:48 am #

      Whew I feel ya!

  3. Sarah R June 18, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    I am so pleased to see this article on a local page! I often feel like I’m in the minority as a peaceful parent in this area. Thank you!

    • Sarah
      Sarah June 18, 2015 at 10:49 am #

      Thank you for reading!! 🙂

  4. Rhonda June 24, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    Although I do not completely agree, I am so super impressed with anyone who can maintain their cool when kids are tantruming. My first was not hard to deal with until she got really emotional at about 3.5 years old. When she would start to escalate, I would find myself escalating too. I’m really trying to be more calm, but it’s very hard. I now have a very reactive daughter who is 5 and has a very strong disobedient streak. It’s so hard to not feel emotionally charged when a 5-year-old stares you in the face and says “No!”. A 2-year-old doesn’t fully get it, but at 5 they should know better. Agh! Any tips on disengaging from the emotions? I know they would listen better without me yelling or lecturing. Please don’t judge, I’m doing the best I can.

    • Becky K June 28, 2015 at 9:23 pm #

      Rhonda, I hear you. Same thing going on here! If it helps at all, it is super frustrating for us parents but actually developmentally appropriate for 4-6 year olds to be experimenting with control in that way. Best book I have had recommended to me (by a play therapist who really knows her stuff) is “Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline” by Becky Bailey. It’s a whole new way of thinking so you have to be open to it. Really working for us.

    • Sarah
      Sarah June 30, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

      Rhonda,
      This mothering thing is so difficult! I struggle with being super reactive as well. I think we are all doing the best we know how– we all need to support one another! I know it sounds simple, but I really try to just pause for a couple of seconds and take a deep breath before I react. Then, I ask myself, “in the grand scheme of things, how significant is this?” It helps me a lot to put things into perspective!

  5. Jamie June 25, 2015 at 11:17 pm #

    Yes! This is for the most part what I am doing with my 2yr old. As a result, he knows what it means to “use his words” rather than whining. One tactic I employ is when he becomes impatient while waiting we count until we are ready.

    • Sarah
      Sarah June 30, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

      Jamie-
      That sounds like a great idea! Thank you for reading!

  6. anna b June 29, 2015 at 12:59 am #

    Things are not always what they seem, parents often act one way in public and another at home in private especially with all the spanking shaming and off the wall cps calls….I rarely would I spank my child in public if I felt it was absolutely needed, I have seen another parent remove child to bathroom for a spanking and I felt that was appropriate depending on the behavior. I have found Most parents don’t discuss spanking unless they are with a close group of friends it had become very taboo but still very common form of discipline.

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