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.
First of all, we cannot talk about gentle discipline and guiding without talking about parenting as the spiritual and inner journey of the adults involved in raising children. Whether you are mother, father, helper – it is a spiritual journey for you and spiritual practice for you! Your own techniques for inner development:
- Your spiritual journey. I have found my spiritual journey in Christianity and in being part of the Anglican Communion specifically. Find your place and start to grow spiritually.
- Sort out the baggage you are carrying around from your past and HEAL it. It is not enough to know what your triggers are from your past experiences; you have to start to learn to control yourself in response to those triggers. We must all be moving forward, not just mired in the past of what was.
- Restraint. This is a hard one since many of us were raised by parents of the 60s generation who showed little restraint in their own lives. You most likely will need to go less, do less, do more by hand, talk a whole lot less and follow through in your parenting life. These skills take practice.
- Listening skills. I like Nonviolent Communication Skills for adult practice or Sacred Listening. In order to practice listening and really hearing the other person, you must calm your whirling thoughts and tongue. Prayer, meditation, and in the Christian tradition, psalmody, is a big aid in this endeavor.
- Know yourself. What works for your friend Mom A or friend Mom B may not work for you at all. Know who you are, what your values are, what your family culture is and work with it.
- Work with the other adults in your house to create your family culture.
- Learn about childhood development. I am partial to Waldorf Education’s view of the child in seven year cycles and what that entails; it may be something different for you. Own what resonates with you and quit flip flopping around.
- Leave guilt and perfectionism behind. You cannot create a “magical” childhood for your children – this implies you are some sort of mini –dictator of your children’s world. You are all spiritual beings growing together. There will be ups and downs.
- Ho-hum, ho-hum, ho-hum. There is so much anxiety amongst mothers of this time and place. When you find yourself getting anxious or upset with your child or about something in parenting, try to pull yourself back to a ho-hum.
I started writing this blog in 2008 because I felt as if I was trying to re-create the parenting world without any models from my own childhood and I didn’t want any other mother to feel that way! I also felt as if I was exploring new territory within my family and within myself. How does one journey into breastfeeding, attachment and connection, but still maintain oneself through boundaries? How does one journey from being selfish to being selfless in the family but not a martyr? How does one have a balance? How does one slow down? How does one honor marriage and still raise children in a place where most of us are isolated from any help? These are all important questions that mothers are facing in this day and age.
The future posts in this series will explore gentle discipline for the child ages infant through thirteen.
PS> Just a gentle reminder that all posts are copyrighted! Thank you…….