Some Thoughts on Gentle Discipline

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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Gentle Discipline is something I’m continuously working on.
For some reason people associate the world Discipline with spanking or yelling, not so. Discipline is to Disciple. To teach, model behavior that you want to see in your children. Don’t focus so much on the negative behavior, praise the positive that you want to see more of.

Trust me, I know it can be hard to remain gentle when your child is in the midst of their 10th tantrum that day, and you’re in the checkout line to top it off. Or all of your kids are melting down at once. You may feel like throwing a tantrum yourself.  The one thing that has worked consistently for us is Naomi Aldort’s S.A.L.V.E Method. I love her book Raising Our Children Raising Ourselves.

I have seen how validating my children’s feeling has worked. I feel like I understand them more. Don’t we all like to be validated? Just because they are smaller than us, and have not walked this earth as long as we have doesn’t mean their feelings are not valid.

Now when they get upset and the crying and possible tantrums begin I explain that I understand they may not be ready to leave. I’ll tell them about a time I was doing something I enjoyed with my friends and had to go.

I like to share books that I’ve read, like the one above. I  enjoy reading articles, and blogs about what’s going on in the natural parenting community. Then I pass the information on to my community via Facebook, Twitter and my Blog.

I remind myself to be mindful in our day to day lives. I remind myself that my children are not out to get me. They have feelings and needs just like I do. They come to me because they know I’m the safe place. That is so flattering!

I also read articles from the Natural Child Project like this one. Emotions are Not Bad Behavior.
And this one from API about Responding with Sensitivity. I speak out about my own Spirited Children.
I read articles like this one from The Root on Black Child Abuse Statistics. I wonder what more can I do as a black parent?

 I am happy to say that I’m a much better parent now because of the community and support that I have in my life.
I encourage mothers to build their own villages. It really does make a difference.
I love having mama friends to talk with about the different parenting challenges we face. I also love having friends who model gentle discipline, none of that not walking the talk around these ladies. I love having friends like this, real  friends.

This post was a little hard for me to write because I feel I’m still finding my way through gentle discipline.
I do hope that I provided some food for thought.

If anyone has links to blogs and articles on gentle discipline feel free to share them in the comments.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Natural Parenting Advocacy by Example — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her blog, Twitter and Facebook as her natural parenting soapbox.
  • You Catch More Flies With Honey — When it comes to natural parenting advice, Kate of The Guavalicious Life believes you catch more flies with honey.
  • From the Heart — Patti at Jazzy Mama searches her heart for an appropriate response when she learns that someone she respects wants his baby to cry-it-out.
  • I Offer the Truth — Amy at Innate Wholeness shares the hard truths to inspire parents in making changes and fully appreciating the parenting experience.
  • Advocating or Just Opinionated?Momma Jorje discusses how to draw the line between advocating compassionately and being just plain opinionated. It can be quite a fine line.
  • Compassionate Advocacy — Mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting writes about how to discuss topics you are passionate about with people who don’t share your views.
  • Heiny Helpers: Sharing Cloth Love — Heiny Helpers is guest posting on Natural Parents Network to share how they are providing cloth diapers and cloth diapering support to low income families.
  • Struggling with Advocacy — April of McApril still struggles to determine how strongly she should advocate for her causes, but still loves to show her love for her parenting choices to those who would like to listen.
  • Compassionate Advocacy Through Blogging (AKA –Why I Blog) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how both blogging and day-to-day life give her opportunities to compassionately advocate for natural parenting practices.
  • A Letter to *Those* Parents — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how to write an informed yet respectful reply to those parents — you know, the ones who don’t parent the way you do.
  • Why I Am Not A Homebirth Advocate — Olivia at Write About Birth is coming out: she is a homebirth mom, but not a homebirth advocate. One size does not fit all – but choice is something we can all advocate for!
  • Why I Open My Big Mouth — Wolfmother from Fabulous Mama Chronicles reflects on why she is passionate about sharing parenting resources.
  • Watching and Wearing — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life advocates the joys of babywearing simply by living life in a small college town.
  • Compassionate Advocacy . . . That’s The Way I Do It — Amyables at Toddler in Tow describes how she’s learned to forsake judgment and channel her social energy to spread the “good news” of natural parenting through interaction and shared experiences.
  • Compelling without repelling — Lauren at Hobo Mama cringes when she thinks of the obnoxious way she used to berate people into seeing her point of view.
  • I Am the Change — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro describes a recent awakening where she realized exactly how to advocate for natural parenting.
  • Public Displays of CompassionThe Accidental Natural Mama recounts an emotional trip to the grocery store and the importance of staying calm and compassionate in the storm of toddler emotions.
  • I will not hide behind my persona — Suzi Leigh at Attached at the Boob discusses the benefits of being honest and compassionate on the internet.
  • Choosing My Words — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares why she started her blog and why she continues to blog despite an increasingly hectic schedule.
  • Honour the Child :: Compassionate Advocacy in the Classroom — Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree shares her experience of being a gentle and compassionate parent — with other people’s children — as a classroom volunteer in her daughter’s senior kindergarten room.
  • Inspired by the Great Divide (and Hoping to Inspire) — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis shares her thoughts on navigating the “great divide” through gently teaching and being teachable.
  • Introverted Advocacy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she advocates for gentle parenting, even though she is about as introverted as one can be.
  • The Three R’s of Effective and Gentle Advocacy — Ana at Pandamoly explains how “The Three R’s” can yield consistent results and endless inspiration to those in need of some change.
  • Passionate and Compassionate: How do We do It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the importance of understanding your motivation for advocacy.
  • Sharing the love — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about how she shares the love and spreads the word.
  • What Frank Said — Nada at miniMOMist has a good friend named Frank. She uses his famous saying to demonstrate how much natural parenting has benefited her and her family.
  • Baby Sling Carriers Make Great Compassionate Advocacy Tools — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shared her babywearing knowledge — and her sling — with a new mom.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Who needs Superman when we have a community of compassionate advocates?! Dionna at Code Name: Mama believes that our community of gentle bloggers are the true superheroes.
  • Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices — MrsH at Fleeting Moments waits to give advice until she’s been asked, resulting in fewer advocacy moments but very high responsiveness from parents all over the spectrum of parenting approaches.
  • Peaceful Parenting — Peaceful parenting shows at Living Peacefully with Children with an atypical comment from a stranger.
  • Speaking for birth — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud soul-searches about how she can advocate for natural birth without causing offense.
  • Gentle is as Gentle Does — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how she is gently advocating her parenting style.
  • Walking on Air — Rachael at The Variegated Life wants you to know that she has no idea what she’s doing — and it’s a gift.
  • Parenting with my head, my heart, and my gut — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares her thoughts on being a compassionate advocate of natural parenting as a blogger.
  • At Peace With the World — Megan at Ichigo Means Strawberry talks about being an advocate for peaceful parenting at 10,000 feet.
  • Putting a public face on “holistic” — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, but it takes some delicacy.
  • Just Be; Just Do. — Amy at Anktangle believes strongly about her parenting methods, and also that the way to get people to take notice is to simply live her life and parent the best she knows how.
  • One Parent at a Time… — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that advocating for Natural Parenting is best accomplished by walking the walk.
  • Self-compassion — We’re great at caring for and supporting others —from our kiddos to other mamas — but Lisa at Gems of Delight shares a post about treating ourselves with that same sense of compassion.
  • Using Montessori Principles to Advocate Natural Parenting — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how she uses Montessori principles to be a compassionate advocate for natural parenting.
  • Advocacy? Me? — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers that by “just doing her thing,” she may be advocating for natural parenting.
  • Feeding by Example — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip shares her experience of being the first one of her generation to parent.
  • Compassionate Consumerism — Erica at ChildOrganics encourages her children to be compassionate consumers and discusses the benefits of buying local and fair trade products.
  • The Importance of Advocating Compassionately — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood acts as a compassionate advocate by sharing information with many in the hopes of reaching a few.
  • Some Thoughts on Gentle Discipline — Darcel at The Mahogany Way shares her thoughts and some tips on Gentle Discipline.
  • Compassionate Advocacy: Sharing Resources, Spreading the Love — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares how her passion for making natural choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting have supported others in Dominica and beyond.
  • A journey to compassion and connection — Jessica at Instead of Institutions shares her journey from know-it-all to authentic advocacy.
  • Advocacy Through Openness, Respect, and Understanding — Melissa at The New Mommy Files describes her view on belief, and how it has shaped the way she advocates for gentle parenting choices.
  • Why I’m not an advocate for Natural Parenting — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog delivers the shocking news that, after 10 years of being a mum, she is NOT an advocate for natural parenting!
  • Natural Love Creates Natural Happiness — A picture is worth a thousand words, but how about a smile, or a giggle, or a gaze? Jessica at Cloth Diapering Mama’s kids are extremely social and their natural happiness is very obvious.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy — Even in the progressive SF Bay Area, Lily at Witch Mom finds she must defend some of her parenting choices.
  • A Tale of Four Milky Mamas — In this post The ArtsyMama shares how she has found ways to repay her childhood friend for the gift of milk.
  • don’t tell me what to do — Pecky at benny and bex demonstrates compassionate advocacy through leading by example.

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17 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Gentle Discipline

  1. My childhood had a lot of bad in it but it also had good. It took em getting past all of the effects of the bad to realize I shoudl also look for the good memories which there were many, more of when we were smaller and still in Illinois. Since my childhood I have had many other hardships, loosing a daughter (S.I.D.S), then catching my first husband with another woman two weeks after loosing our daughter then making him leave, his lies, ect. It crushed my heart and my soul. I wasn't really even allowed to mourn, "they" didn't like it. My self esteem never has matched my looks, meaning I look prettier than I think I am or so I have been told. My strength comes from honesty and perseverance. I have had times where I wish I wasn't alive but somehow I made it through. I had my son near 3 years later and I went through many learning stages while I was raising him. Our kids go through them with us, sometimes we tend to forget they are there watching us and from anyone who is around and they are learning from it. They do see and feel our emotions. If you want your children to grow up with a sense of fairness and a gentleness that respects others we must treat them as such and behave likewise. When we are young we tend to be self centered in a way that we do not think about how we effect others or what we influence. At this point we are still accustomed to being the kids ourselves. We want to be the adult we think we are but we do not have the wisdom that comes with age. I would like to add that not all kids are ready to leave the nest at age 18. I have seen several kids, mostly boys, who have parents who made them go right after they turned 18. I do think this is more of a masculine approach, forcing them into adulthood. I believe it is not the age but the level of maturity. A shy kid might take longer than one who is more outgoing and experiencing things faster. I agree that violence and harshness begets violence and harshness. Also those who smack hands, I am not totally against this but I will say that its not how hard you hit (not necessary to hit really, just tap) its how consistent you are with them. Consistency and following through with what you say will make a difference and listening to what they have to say will help them be less frustrated. Sometimes they just want to be heard and sometimes they need to be held and/or reassured. When I scold… if start off a bit strong I will always soften up and then discuss it. I have BOYS (not all are mine but I am a mentor and some have lived or still do live with us), sometimes I have to be very headstrong because they are all bigger than me (5ft5, 130 lbs). They do not realize that some of those hits I take go straight to the heart and are more hurtful they they realize. If they are in denial I have to get past the denial first then get to the teaching part. Always make sure they know that you love them, especially when they are REALLY wrong. Give the love after the lecture not before because they are too busy thinking about what is to come to focus on that at that time. Get to the scary part, get that part over with, then show the love. I am not an expert as far as a degree is concerned, I just know what we do here. It truly is hard to be a parent. I wish you all the best and have you hugged your kid(s) lately?(every day). I know I will miss him when he moves out, the house will be so quiet. The one thing I know for sure… I will always be his Mom ❤

  2. I love meeting other moms who know the Naomi Aldort book. She sent me 100 of her business cards and I hand them out to anyone who asks about my unschooled children.

  3. I love your thoughts and your wise and gentle perspective on discipline. I really want to use the SALVE method more consciously, because I think it would really help me be a more mindful and less reactionary parent.

  4. @KellyNaturally – I tell everyone who will listen about that book. It's a fantastic book. It touched me so much that I had to stop reading it at one point, because it brought up some pretty deep feelings from my own childhood.@Zoie – Thank you! I absolutely believe that our children will do better because we did better. They will have a different confidence about them.@Janis – Thank you so much! It's funny because I was turning into one of those "because I said so" parents when my first daughter was around 2. I'm so glad I got out of that way of thinking.@Lauren – That is they key, moving beyond reacting. It's hard to do because that is how so many of us were raised. It's a good thing we get to practice day to day and moment to moment.

  5. Huh – really thought I had posted yesterday but for some reason it isn't here. Can't remember all of what I said, but I do think that some of it had to do with thank you for the reminder about The Natural Child Project. I've been meaning to order their parenting cards for years and should get on that :).Rereading it today I was also struck by this statement "I remind myself that my children are not out to get me." – I think culturally this is something that we need to look long and hard at. children's TV (Disney, N, and the like) introduces the idea to children that it is parents vs kids and everyone is out to get everyone. By the time someone starts paying attention to the "adult" meme we are told that even from birth babies will "manipulate" adults to "get what they want". This is a very difficult cultural pull to fight against, even when a person truly wants to.

  6. Huh – really thought I had posted yesterday but for some reason it isn't here. Can't remember all of what I said, but I do think that some of it had to do with thank you for the reminder about The Natural Child Project. I've been meaning to order their parenting cards for years and should get on that :).Rereading it today I was also struck by this statement "I remind myself that my children are not out to get me." – I think culturally this is something that we need to look long and hard at. children's TV (Disney, N, and the like) introduces the idea to children that it is parents vs kids and everyone is out to get everyone. By the time someone starts paying attention to the "adult" meme we are told that even from birth babies will "manipulate" adults to "get what they want". This is a very difficult cultural pull to fight against, even when a person truly wants to.

  7. My daughter is still under a year old, but I am trying to validate her feelings already, because I know that it will all get more challenging as she grows. Thank you for sharing your journey!

  8. @KellyNaturally – I tell everyone who will listen about that book. It's a fantastic book. It touched me so much that I had to stop reading it at one point, because it brought up some pretty deep feelings from my own childhood.@Zoie – Thank you! I absolutely believe that our children will do better because we did better. They will have a different confidence about them.@Janis – Thank you so much! It's funny because I was turning into one of those "because I said so" parents when my first daughter was around 2. I'm so glad I got out of that way of thinking.@Lauren – That is they key, moving beyond reacting. It's hard to do because that is how so many of us were raised. It's a good thing we get to practice day to day and moment to moment.

  9. I still have such a hard time with the stop/separate step! Even when I do succeed, I'm beginning to think that my middle one needs something else. He just screams and won't stop. Anyway, like you, I'm feeling my way around gentle discipline, trying to figure out what works for my kids and is respectful of each of them. I'm glad you've found such a great community for support!

  10. I love your thoughts and your wise and gentle perspective on discipline. I really want to use the SALVE method more consciously, because I think it would really help me be a more mindful and less reactionary parent.

  11. Darcel~ you are such a good Mama. I suspect we would have been good friends having the opportunity to know each other. Although my Babies are adults now, my resources may have been different, but i used the same concepts. I always believed you must show respect and reasoning with a child was more productive than the, I said so thats why! attitude. have a blessed day♥

  12. Thank you so much for these resources – my daughter isn't quite old enough for discipline, and it's something I am actually afraid or…my model was so bad growing up, and I know I have that anger within me. I love hearing the stories of gentle discipline that work (and the reality that while it's not exactly easy, it's worth it). Looking forward to checking out these books and articles!

  13. Great CarNatPar post! I like how open you are about feeling your way with gentle discipline. I feel like I'm doing the same. I wonder if it will be easier for our kids having been raised with the model of gentle discipline. I can only hope. I think, like you, modeling it for out children along with building and sharing our communities for support is one of the best ways to advocate for a gentle lifestyle. Put the information out there, be available to softly guide, and step back to allow them to choose what they will.aside: And if you're looking to exchange resources, I am an avid reader and share (too?) many on my personal facebook page (feel free to send me a friend request, if you want) and my google reader. I'm always intrigued by what people share.

  14. I don't have Naomi's book… but I've heard it mentioned so many times, I really should get it! Gentle discipline can be a real challenge – when you're not feeling particularly gentle or peaceful yourself – but it's SO worthwhile, as I've seen with my own children as well. Thank you for the reminder, Darcel.

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