When I gave birth to my daughter, I never gave any thought as too what kind of parent I would become. Taking care of a baby is easy when you look at the grand scale of raising your kids. But when my daughter turned 18 months old, the game changed. She started having tantrums, became stubborn, and strong willed. No longer was my only worry was if she were to sleep through the night or not. Now I had think about what I would do if she was kicking and screaming on the floor because she was too engaged in her play when it was time to go to the store. Or she just bit me for forcing her to brush her teeth. Now it became evident that I needed to figure out what kind of parent I wanted to be. It was either that, or start saving for her therapy sessions when she became an adult.
I knew that spanking or hitting wasn’t my cup of tea. I knew that yelling at my child or telling her she needed to “do as I say” without reason, wasn’t my style as well. I knew I didn’t want to parent her as my mother parented me. She was a fine parent, however I never felt truly connected with her. I lived more in fear of punishment if I were to fuck up vs a feeling of full acceptance no matter what. I wanted to raise my daughter in a way that developed trust, connection, respect, and understanding. I wanted to learn how to understand her behavior and why she was acting out, so I could get to the root of the problem, vs reacting to her behavior. And god willing, I would love to have a relationship as an adult with her, where she would call me when some douche bag broke her heart, or she wanted advice as to what job offer to take.
In my research of different parenting philosophies, I discovered Positive Discipline. So the “Type A” mom I am, I started reading books, taking classes, and joined parenting support groups to figure out what this whole parenting method was all about. And I loved what I discovered.
Positive Discipline is about understanding my child through her eyes. It is about mutual respect by modeling firmness with kindness. It is about communication by listening to my child, understanding, and then teaching her valuable life skills. It is about focusing on solutions vs punishment. Basically it is the idea that kids do better when they feel better by giving encouragement and natural consequences when she stumbles.
Positive Discipline is not about passive parenting. It is not about allowing your children to walk all over you without any consequences to their actions. And it is not about being your child’s “friend”. It is about understanding why your child is acting the way they are, addressing the root of the issue with natural consequences, and creating a level of respect and connection to establish your relationship that will form over the years.
I don’t believe in spanking. I don’t believe in telling your child “no hitting” and then hit them back. It sends mixed messages and forces your child to fear you. I personally don’t want to be forcing her to respect me fear. I want earn her respect, as she earns my respect. I don’t believe in “because I said so”. And I don’t believe in timeouts without talking about the situation afterwards.
Positive Discipline is fucking hard work. There are many times where after a total breakdown (and I mean me breakdown), where I realize how I had reacted to the situation was totally not cool. Do I break down and lose my cool sometimes? Yes! I have been known to have my own tantrums right in front of her. She pushes my buttons as all kids do. But in the end, I really enjoy the idea of Positive Discipline and feel it has created a close connection between my daughter and I, that will take us way beyond her teen and adult years.