During this forty days of renewal, re-commit yourself to gentle discipline!
Look at your child as this small being who has a completely different consciousness than an adult and work with that child to guide that child and leave everyone’s dignity intact. Small children really don’t look at things the same way that you do as an adult, because they do not have logical reasoning. No matter how verbal they are, they still have a different consciousness than you do as an adult if they are small.
You are the leader, the guide, on this journey because you have more years of living. Commit yourself to looking at discipline as guiding instead of punishing. You are trying to raise a capable, responsible, loving, compassionate adult. Please do not give them a childhood that lands them distanced from you, please do not give them a childhood where they feel badly for being a child and being immature and making mistakes because that is what all children are and that is what all children do.
Think of connection and attachment as your number one key to discipline. There are going to be rough spots, places of disequilbrium as your child grows. Your child is not you, your child is not the psychological extension of you, and this can be painful as your child grows. But please don’t mistake the fact that a child can have their own mind, their own will, as something that is horrible that should be broken. You are there to guide and work with this child, not to break this child!
Here are your helpers in the guiding of a small child under the age of six: (these are in no special order).
1. Connection and attachment
2. A good rhythm with lots of outside time – hours of outside time a day!
3. A healthy diet and rest and sleep.
4. Low stimulation
5. Less words on your part, more action, more imaginative phrasing than just a direct verbal command. I wrote a post on using your words like a paintbrush to paint a picture just a few days ago: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/04/01/talking-in-pictures-to-small-children/
6. Having the child make restitution for their mistakes if it is fixable
7. Having realistic expectations for the child’s age.
8. Warmth toward this child on your part – the more the child is acting out of sorts, the more you need to connect with this child.
9. The setting of boundaries that are not movable. You can still be gentle and set a boundary. They are going to push against the rhythm, against the boundary, and you can still be gentle.
10. A parental time-out when you need it.
11. Time-in when they need it. There are quite a few posts on this blog about time-in.
12. You taking care of yourself! A frazzled mommy cannot effectively and gently guide their small child. Take a breather and slow down.
13. The ability to forgive yourself and start over the next minute if you need to. It is never too late to start over, to collect your child and connect to your child.
What would you add to this list? Leave a comment in the box below!
I appreciate this so much today, ready to put into action! Thanks.
Thank you for this post Carrie. Do you have any posts on the 6-7 year change? I’m really struggling with the intense emotional outbursts my daughter has been having the past few months. I find myself either wanting to retreat when she does this or fight back, neither of which is working at all.
Marianne – there are a ton of posts on that, just try the search engine. Every developmental age is covered from twelve months to nine years….(including the six/seven year old change, and the nine year old change)
Thank you. Tears welling up inside because of what you wrote. Your words are a regular beginning to my day. I strive to be gentle with my daughter who is two and beautiful and intense at times. I’ve observed that when I’m gentle with her it also helps me to be gentle with myself. I think like most women I tend to be hard on myself.
Thank you for writing this post. It came to me at exactly the right time, because I needed your words in my head this afternoon. I even did a blog post about it!
I have been following you for about a month now and I must say that you are a true inspiration to me. Thank you for your presence on the web.
Thank you for your kind words and for reading!
Carrie- I, too, find this post so very helpful for where I am right now. I think that I need to pare down how much I’m reading online and focus myself for my girls. I have a 4 1/2 year old and a 1 1/2 month baby. My big girl is so wonderful but I am so, so fragile right now and having such a difficult time with this new transition. Thank you so much for all of the thought and energy that you put into your writing. Each post is such a great help.
Oh Emily, that is so wonderful…be present.
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I really needed to read this post tonight! Thank you so much for writing this. Lots of reminders to help me renew my spirit in the endeavor of gentle parenting. It’s so easy to forget some of these things – my role as a guide and the fact that my child does not have the same logical thinking skills as I do yet. I need to write those things down on notecards to bring out as reminders during the hard moments!
Glad you liked this! I used to post things around my house to remind me – children are not little adults. They have a completely different consciousness! Blessings, Carrie