Whew, several folks have asked this and this is such a big subject to even attempt to cover in one post, but I will try. I think actually the first thing to start with is to give yourself permission to be learning, to be human, to be imperfect. I find that when parents start to learn about gentle discipline, they feel as if they did everything wrong in the past and feel guilty. Please don’t. You were doing the best you could at the time with the information you had and that is where you were in your parenting journey. I congratulate you for making a commitment to move forward and toward parenting in a different way, perhaps in even a more mindful way than before.
The second thing, I think, is to explore what gentle discipline brings up for you. Does it bring forth fears that there will be no boundaries for your child? Does it seem as if you have no tools to replace yelling at your child? Does it seem like you chronically lose your temper with your child, and you aren’t sure how gentle discipline is going to help? I think these are things to explore and think about.
Third, look at how you view the small child. If your view of the child is that the small child is a miniature adult, that they think and rationalize and intellectualize things the way you do, that all they need is information and to be treated by you the way you would want to be treated, then I would say you probably will be disappointed. Not because children are “bad” or “defiant”, but because they are learning! It takes a lot of effort and repetition to guide a child! Yes, children need to be treated with dignity and respect and warmth and love; they deserve this and they will imitate what you do! Actions speak louder than words! However, a small child, to me at least, has a completely different consciousness than an adult and I think you need different tools to access this and guide this rather than just your voice. How many times do you say the same thing to your child over and over and over? Try something different, try movement and physically guiding and fantasy and play and humor and less words and you may be surprised at how well that works!
Fourth, how well do you know traditional developmental stages? Each stage has different things that come to light from both traditional viewpoints and anthroposophic viewpoints. If you know, in general, what the ages of disequilibium are and how that typically manifests, it really helps. If you know realistically what age a child typically starts to dress themselves or pick up their rooms, that helps. I find realistic expectations are often a strong key to controlling parental anger. Are you creating a battle with your child in your mind over things that should not be battles?
Fifth, it is not just about your child; it is about you. Parenting will make you stretch and grow in so many ways; it is like a yoga pose you cannot move out of sometimes! What kind of baggage are you carrying around from your own childhood and are you trying to check it into your child’s luggage? How is anger and other negative emotions dealt with in your home? How are you and your partner? How is the rhythm of your home- is that a help or a hindrance in guiding your child? How much outside time are you getting? Is the tone of your home generally warm and calm or chaotic or cold? How is your attitude? Where is your own inner work? Is your house a visually cluttered place with too many things? Where is the beauty?
If you look on this blog, you just might find a few things to start you down a different path.
Hope that helps!