Gentle discipline is the mainstay of parenting life, because it encompasses guiding and validating the authentic spiritual being that is every human being and child. It is a mindset to live by and parent by, and if you can master some of these techniques, you will find yourself even having more positive communication and conflict resolution with other adults.
I have wanted to do a round-up of techniques by age, and here it finally is beginning. I hope it will be helpful to you, and do please feel free to add your own thoughts or experiences to this list.
Today we are focused on birth through age 4. The mainstay of gentle discipline for these years begins with our own inner work and development, as discussed in Part One of this series.
The overall picture of development for these ages I think is two-fold. This time is the child learning about their own bodies as their first physical space on earth, which requires protection of the senses, warmth and physical activity that is unstructured in nature and in the home. The second part of this time is that the emerging child is building trust in a secure caregiver, a good world, and learning to ask for help from trusted caregivers whilst exploring his or her world. Therefore, parents must work hard to believe in their hearts that the world is a good place, that they are good people, that the world is full of hope and love. The smallest of children can often sense this so strongly in a place of religion, the outward beautiful expression of spirituality.
That is the beginning picture. Toward the latter part of this stage, a child of three years or so is beginning to have an emergent sense of self noted by use of the word, “I”. The use of the word, “No!” also has a place and gift in this time as the child uses “no” as a beginning of separation, but not as a disobedient act.
These are our tools for gentle guiding of the smallest child: Continue reading