Thursday, February 5, 2009

Discipline in Attachment Parenting

Discipline has long been a challenge for me. Since I first considered having a child, I have thought long and hard about what I would do. I do not have all the answers... obviously... and I am reading Dr. and Mrs. Sears' The Discipline Book to better understand how to discipline my two year old in age appropriate, attachment parenting friendly styles. In the book, the Sears' address not only how to discipline, but the developmental stages of children and what they can and cannot understand. They do talk about Christian principles and the adage of "Spare the rod, spoil the child," and I agree with their application of scripture. (See #6 on this list for a basic summary. If there is more interest in how I got where I did regarding Biblical teaching and the use of a rod, I can post separately on it.)
The first book I read on discipline was Elizabeth Pantley's No-Cry Discipline Solution, which by the way does include crying, but also a lot of techniques to prevent melt-downs, tantrums and crying.
First and foremost, I do not spank or hit my child-- especially his hands. For young children, hands are a tool of exploration, and instead of slapping his fingers, I redirect them to activities that are acceptable. I have noticed that if my son becomes bored, he starts touching things that are not to be touched-- even in our own home. As such, when he starts "getting in to things" that I would prefer he did not, I redirect him to an appropriate activity.
In my opinion, and the opinion of many researches and authors, hitting does not teach respect, even in households where parents spank with love in their heart and soft hands, and while it might teach consequences, there are many other positive ways to teach consequences of actions (or inactions).  Spanking does teach fear, and I do not want my child fearing that I will hit him if he does something wrong. I want him to know he can come to me, and while there are consequences, violence is not one of them, and we can and will work it out together.
I respect my child, and he respects me back. That's not to say that he does not test the limits, because he does, but by using more positive discipline techniques, we continue to build a bond through attachment parenting rather than violence and threats. A lot of times this includes matter-of-a-fact statements on my part, and in the worst cases some time in time-out to think about what happened.
Many misconstrue this in to the idea that we do not discipline or have rules/boundaries at all, which is completely false. There are rules and boundaries and expected behaviors, but in shaping those behaviors, we do not use violence or threatening language (verbal violence).  Different situations call for different discipline, but our primary focus is on time-out, communication, and confirmation statements for positive behavior (i.e. He says, "I did it." I reinforce-- "You did do it!").
I am amazed at what my two year old can understand. For example, we were having some issues with couch jumping. Rather than spanking or threatening him, I reminded him for a few days that couches are for sitting.  It was a simple statement, and after a few days,  he climbed up and told me "couches are for sitting." On the other hand, I have to be patient as well. Two year old children move considerably slower than I do, and I must remind myself that he does not need to be disciplined or "have a talk" for taking an extra five minutes to pick up all the toys or an extra minute to lie down to have his diaper changed.
Do I make mistakes? Yes. I slip up, but I also apologize to my son just as I would expect him to apologize if he makes a mistake.
Non-violent discipline is NOT the easy way out. It is truly a learning experience-- for parent and child-- and requires a lot of creativity. However, attachment parenting does make non-violent disiciplining easier, and I spend a little extra time setting The Boy up for success, so that he has opportunities to learn in a setting that is appropriate for his development level.

If you are interested in learning more on this style of discipline, Dr. Sears has some great information available free online, including 10 Reasons Not to Hit Your Child.


Rebecca said...

What a great post. Thanks for the positive reinforcment for your child AND for us parents.

ANHD said...

Wow, what a coincidence! Henry and I took a road trip today and we were talking about this very topic. We are still working on coming to an agreement on discipline that works for us both. Great post!

Maria said...

My only advice-- leave some wiggle room for discussing once the child is born and to revisit techniques at various stages of development. Dealing with a two year old and a ten year old require different techniques, IMO, but in my house-- never spanking. :)

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