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Old 02-19-2010, 04:28 PM   #1
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If you don't punish....

then what do you do? I have been seeing posts here and elsewhere about UP, and I'm still not sure what that stands for, lol. But it seems that they don't use timeouts, grounding etc.

I can't wrap my head around this, lol. I feel like I've been indoctrinated or something, lol.
It intrigues me. I think back to my own childhood and wonder how tense it would have been if my parents hadn't tried to control me all the time. I became VERY sneaky. I mean, not to brag, but I was good at sneaking.

I guess I kinda feel like a doctor who wants to give a c-section, or intervene all the time because I feel like I should be doing something....when maybe it would be better for all involved if I just supported nature's course and stopped trying to fight the current.

But what do you do??? If your child bites you, or lies, or runs away in a parking lot?

Is there a book? a website?

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Old 02-19-2010, 07:34 PM   #2
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Re: If you don't punish....

UP-Unconditional Parenting, a book by Alfie Kohn.

While I do not subscribe to his teachings, I do not use punishments. I allow natural consequences, sometimes impose logical consequences, and model model model. I (because of my Christian beliefs) use instead GBD, which stands for grace based discipline. It's based on the bible of course, and the word discipline being used as 'teaching' and not punishing. I follow Jesus' example of teaching, He lead, He modeled, He talked talked and talked some more. He allowed for natural consequences, He was gentle and firm. He stood His ground without forcing anything on anyone.

Ok, so what are the things I DO? Here is a list:

1. Prevention. Being tired, bored, hungry, or lonely is the root of MOST behavior problems, especially in younger children. I try to make sure everyone is rested, fed (healthy!) and occupied. I put my kids to work early on. My two year old makes her bed, feeds the dogs, puts laundry away, and helps me vacuum. My 4 year old does that and more. When they are busy and feel needed, kids feel important!

*The next 5 are taken from a wonderful book- Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves

2. Separate myself from their behavior. This is a HARD one for me. Basically, do not take their behavior as a personal slight on you. When kids are crying, tantruming, or destroying your house, it has NOTHING to do with you. It's so easy to get caught up in their upset, and that usually makes a parent want to stop it. I allow feelings to happen. They are what they are.

3. Attention. Ignored kids are more likely to get into trouble or act out for attention. I'm not saying you have to put on a carnival show for them everyday, but involve them in your life. Make them a priority, over the computer tv, phone, or whatever else. I know that when I've taken to time to play with or involve my kids on something I'm doing, they are much more likely to play alone while I make a phone call or write an email.

4. Listen. I'm so guilty of not doing this one. I just smile and nod and keep my mental list going. They see through that. I have to stop myself and really LISTEN to them. Sometimes that means I have to look beyond the behavior or words and try to figure out what is REALLY going on. The more in tune I am with them the easier that is.

5. Validate. Like I said before, feelings are real. Positive, negative, pretty or ugly, they are truth. Even though I don't always understand why they are feeling the way they are, I can always validate them. Just knowing that they are being heard makes all the difference.

6. Empower. I try to get out of their way and let them solve things on their own. Of course I am there if they need help, but stepping in too often or too quickly tells a kid they are not capable. As often as I can, I let them figure things out.

7. Positive Time Out. This is a nice, comfy, completely voluntary place the kids can go to cool off. We have a bean bag chair in front of the bookshelves. It's not in a room by itself, it's right in the middle of the house. The point is NOT to isolate the child or make him feel bad by 'thinking about it'. The point is to help the kid recognize that when they start feeling out of control of their bodies/words/actions, they have the power to go cool off. It's a positive, pleasant experience, akin to an adult taking a breather. When the weather is nice, I open the sliding glass doors and the quiet spot is outside.

8. Redirection. Works best for younger kids, but can also work for older kids as well.

9. Redo. If my dd1 is rude or disrespectful, I let her know as much and ask her to redo. She can try again in a kinder, more respectful way.

10. GOYB parenting. Get Off Your Butt. Taken from the website that goes by the same name. I say it once, repeat if I think they may not have heard or understood, and then get up to help. Helping is just that, helping. It's not to be rough or negatively. However, a child not complying is in need of help. So, if I say, "Ok we are going, let's go get our shoes on!" and dd1 does not, I will then say "You need shoes to leave, do you need help or can you do it?" And take it from there. If she gets them on, great! If not, I will put them on for her, or at least start to do so, and she will usually take over from there.

11. Solicit cooperation. "Let's" works much better than "Go do..."

12. Character Training. For us, as Christians, we take a lot of lessons and stories from the bible, but also from other wonderful books. Historical people (fictional or not) and what we think about how they behaved is often the conversation at the table.

13. Keep the important things important, and the other things secondary. Wearing striped pants with a polka dot shirt is not my cup of tea, but in the grand scheme of things, it's no big deal. Neither is cake for breakfast. If they were going to have a piece later on in the day, what's the big deal if they have it at 8 am instead of noon? For me, respecting God, people, animals and property is pretty much it.

14. Relax. Most things are a phase. Honestly, regardless of parenting style, MOST kids will go through similar issues. The difference (which you have pointed out in your OP) is how they are handled and what impact that makes on you as an adult person. A kid who is punished for doing things becomes more sneaky, it's natural to be in the self preservation mode. A kid who knows that he is capable, that his parents will support him, that they believe in him and will allow him the freedom to fix his mistake will more likely come and ask for help if the issue gets too big for him. A 2 year old who tantrums or a 5 year old who steals a piece of candy is not indicative of a sociopath. I stole gum from the grocery store as a kid and my consequence was logical...I had to take it back and apologize to the manager. No further punishment was needed, I learned my lesson well, and now as an adult I am one of the most honest people you know. Like I will drive back to the store if they missed something in my cart honest. My cousin, an amazing, attached mother of 6, gave me the best advice- It's a phase. They grow out of everything. Teach what is right and trust that they will 'get it'. And she is right, most everything I've stressed over was resolved with no further action by me.

15. Set them up for success. Baby-proof. Remove temptation. Be aware of their limits and do not push it. Eventually they WILL gain more self control, but children just do not have it. Even if they KNOW the right thing, they often do not have the self control to stop themselves from doing the wrong thing. Again, it's not indicative of a selfish, self-centered adult. Most adults I know (especially those in the Christian circles who use hitting as punishment) expect SO MUCH MORE from their children than even they are capable of. Perfectly compliant, perfectly happy, perfectly quiet children who do not complain, make a mess, test boundaries, or get in your way. Silly.

16. Give acceptable alternatives. Kid wants to throw their food on the floor? That's not ok, but how about throwing a ball outside? Kid wants to dump water? Again, that's not safe, but how about helping mom wash plastic dishes. Honor the impulse.



So, if you made it through THAT, for your specific instances, if your child:

Bites. Say "Biting hurts! Do not bite me/baby/friend!" And either move yourself or move your child. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Lies. The natural consequence of lying is that those close to you loose their trust. Explain that to the child, using age appropriate terms. When you loose trust, you must be more mindful of the child, therefore revoking some of the freedoms they once had. This does NOT need to be negative. For example, my dd1 went through a 'dig in mommy's bathroom drawer and get in to every lotion, deodorant, hair product, make up, and soap and dump it out. She was NOT doing it to annoy me, she was doing it because it's FUN! I gave her an acceptable alternative (playing with shaving cream or soap outside in the kiddy pool) and then kept her in the same room as me for a few weeks, until I felt I could trust her again. It was annoying, to have to keep her with me all the time, but it worked, she didn't get into the stuff anymore, and I was able to trust her in my bathroom again.

Runs across the parking lot. When you get to her, tell her in a very scared concerned voice "Running from mommy is NOT safe!!! I was very worried you could get hurt! Hold my hand or hop into the stroller so I can keep you safe." And do not allow that situation to happen again by holding hands/getting in stroller/putting on a kid leash BEFORE going outside. You can also practice "HALT" at home or in a safe place. See how quickly your child can stop when you yell HALT! Make it a game, but at the same time you are teaching a valuable lesson.


My philosophy on discipline is that since the root word is disciple, which mean to teach, I approach behavior like I do math. Explain, model, play games, and allow for mistakes. Try a different approach for different children. Know where your child is, and what is age appropriate so that you are not expecting calculus at age 3! And one thing I try to tell myself when I feel my kids are acting out is "A child who feels good, does good, and vise versa." Making a kid feel bad about doing something wrong is only going to spiral into making the child do worse things because you've added insult to injury. Giving the child loving guidance and the power and tools to resolve his own problems will go a lot further. It is MUCH harder, but hey, who said parenting was easy!? HTH some, and please feel free to ask questions if something I said wasn't clear or if you would like more info!
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Old 02-19-2010, 08:41 PM   #3
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Re: If you don't punish....

mommy2abigail had an amazing post and posted much of what I was wanting to say. Overall, I have found that structured home with parents who model the behavior they are wanting instilled in their children are wonderful ways to prevent many of the normal parenting issues. Another thing I will add is to know your own limits. Step back and take a break if you need to. Don't overwhelm your day with things that get in the way of you being the parent you truly want to be. Keep a calm voice or pause until you can do that. Do not feed into the bad behavior by losing it yourself. Begin each day as a new day, thinking the best of your children and not continually holding them hostage by mistakes they made days ago. I also have a timeout sort of spot called our "cry corner". The kids are not required to stay there for any amount of time but instead they stay as long as it takes for them to calm down and choose a better behavior or attitude. Preventative measures and calm reactions have limited our need for punishment to a very small number of incidents, maybe one every few days. This is also the case with my daycare kids who are normally much better behaved for me than their parents! Lots of good helps listed above! I personally think there are reasons for actual punishments but believe that if you (general you) are punishing your child on any sort of regular basis, perhaps you should rethink your approach and take the time to teach your child what to do instead.
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Old 02-20-2010, 05:46 AM   #4
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Re: If you don't punish....

Mommy2Abigail:bow down:

I actually read Raising ourselves, raising our children and I just couldn't wrap my mind around what she was saying. You explain it much much better.

That is what I want my child to have.

I turned out pretty well, and I have a good heart and respect my parents but for a long time I only did what was right because I knew I would get caught, and now in the last year I'm starting to do what's right because it's right, lol. I want my child to feel as good as I feel now, much earlier than I did.


So basically, just live with, enjoy, and model for your children. Treat them as I would like to be treated.

Or like that quote who I can't remember who said it but "Remember, you aren't managing an inconvenience, you are raising a human being. "
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Old 02-20-2010, 07:10 AM   #5
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Re: If you don't punish....

So basically, just live with, enjoy, and model for your children. Treat them as I would like to be treated.

Or like that quote who I can't remember who said it but "Remember, you aren't managing an inconvenience, you are raising a human being. "[/QUOTE]

Yup! And that's an excellent quote at well...I'll be putting that one next to my computer! It's where I put little reminders to inspire myself.
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Old 02-20-2010, 09:21 AM   #6
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Re: If you don't punish....

subbing. no time to read the great post by mommy2abigail yet. A few book recs:
The aforementioned Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn
How to Talk so Kids Will listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Siblings Without Rivalry (same authors as above)
kids are worth it! by Barbara Colorosso, which is a great combination of practical advice and the WHY of parenting without punishments, some special sections on dealing with teenagers and BIG problems.

You can read a bunch of essays by Alfie Kohn at his website. ex: Five Reasons to stop saying 'Good Job'
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Old 02-20-2010, 08:24 PM   #7
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Re: If you don't punish....

Mommy2Abigail said it all. Excellent. I'm atheist and I have the exact same parenting philosophies. I've never read any books about it. I just discipline according to logic, remember that she's too young to know any better and she'll eventually grow up, and give us both a "time out" when I'm feeling angry and impatient. Parenting with a cool head cuts down on a lot of problems.

It's odd because all of the devout Christians I know (my parents and IL's included) are the exact opposite. They think more along the lines of, "You're my child. I own you and you owe me simply for being alive. Do whatever I want whenever I tell you, or else I'll beat you. If you screw up, even if I don't teach you how to do something, I'll beat you. I have to beat you or else you won't learn. You need to be afraid of me in order to respect me." It's amazing that I became a functional adult. I don't like my mother to this day, and I never respected her. It hurts me to hear people from similar upbringings defend their parents' actions with, "I turned out okay." Does that make it acceptable?

I'm just very relieved to hear a Christian say those things, and I hope the word gets out. I'm tired of the "spare the rod..." rhetoric.
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Old 02-20-2010, 08:40 PM   #8
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Re: If you don't punish....

I learn something everyday. I never knew what I was doing was called "AP"(attachment parenting) or now this, "UP"(unconditional parenting).
I just parent by my gut, what seems right & just.
Misbehavior is definately a learning opportunity. Don't we all learn best from our mistakes? We all want to be loved & validated, kids are no different.
Sure, we all slip up every now & then. Parents & kids. You grow & move on.
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Old 02-21-2010, 05:39 AM   #9
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Re: If you don't punish....

Quote:
Originally Posted by MagicNumber3 View Post
Mommy2Abigail said it all. Excellent. I'm atheist and I have the exact same parenting philosophies. I've never read any books about it. I just discipline according to logic, remember that she's too young to know any better and she'll eventually grow up, and give us both a "time out" when I'm feeling angry and impatient. Parenting with a cool head cuts down on a lot of problems.

It's odd because all of the devout Christians I know (my parents and IL's included) are the exact opposite. They think more along the lines of, "You're my child. I own you and you owe me simply for being alive. Do whatever I want whenever I tell you, or else I'll beat you. If you screw up, even if I don't teach you how to do something, I'll beat you. I have to beat you or else you won't learn. You need to be afraid of me in order to respect me." It's amazing that I became a functional adult. I don't like my mother to this day, and I never respected her. It hurts me to hear people from similar upbringings defend their parents' actions with, "I turned out okay." Does that make it acceptable?

I'm just very relieved to hear a Christian say those things, and I hope the word gets out. I'm tired of the "spare the rod..." rhetoric.
Magic-Yes, it's so sad to me too. As Christians, we are called to be CHRIST-LIKE, and Jesus was the epitome of a gentle teacher. I really don't understand why so many Christians are caught up in the whole hitting being the only way? Spanking as we know it today is never mentioned in the bible, neither is the line "Spare the rod, spoil the child." That is from a poem, by Samuel Butler, titled Hudibras. It's a poem about a husband and wife getting it on in the bedroom, NOTHING to do with children. The fact that it's been applied to children is sickening, as it's roots are in sexual foreplay. In traditional Jewish culture, children are not spanked. There is NO mention of it ever happening in the bible at all. The rod verses in the bible that most Christians take to mean to hit their children are in Proverbs. A wisdom book for sure, lots of great things in there. HOWEVER, there are a few flaws with taking one verse out of context and using that to build a whole parenting philosophy on.



First, Proverbs is a poetical book. A good hermeneutical principle is not to build doctrine on poetic passages. This book is full of symbolism, and not always meant to be read and taken literally. (Interesting though, how most Christians who advocate hitting children as being a biblical truth pick and choose what they want to take as literal from the Old Testament. Only when it suits their lifestyle will they take it as a literal command...if it's too inconvenient or 'out there' they blow it off by saying ''oh but we are under grace now!'' Funny how that never applies to children though?)

The word Rod in the bible appears many times, MOST often meaning a kings scepter or a shepherd's staff. Which would mean that if taken literally, we would need to find a 6 foot long 3 inch round stick to hit our children. Of course, that is not the intent! Rod is a symbol- one of guidance, one of authority, like a shepherd or a king.
Solomon (the author of Proverbs) was a wise man, for sure. However, his children didn't exactly turn out great either...so I'm going to look at his wisdom in light of what GOD and JESUS say in the scripture.

Second the word used for our english word 'child' is naar. Naar MOST often refers to young adult, or someone entering adulthood. They have more responsibility to God, they were also accountable to the government of the day. Naar does NOT refer to a toddler or baby.

Thirdly, as Christians, we are saved by grace. Not because we are well-behaved, not because we deserved it, not because of anything but grace. And as Christians, we are called to be Christ-like, and to model our lives after Jesus. Jesus never hit anyone, in fact, He made sure to call the little children to Him and tell everyone "Whatsoever you do the the least of these, you do also unto Me"

And lastly, even if someone DOES feel that the verse in Proverbs is advocating for hitting on the bottom with a wooden spoon (again, NO WHERE IN THE BIBLE) there are no directives on when, how often, for what offense, or anything like that. MAN has made all those rules up. The whole praying together, hug after being hit is sickening to me. It only teaches that if you are bigger and stronger, you can hurt someone else if they don't do things your way. And that those who supposedly love you the most are going to hurt you if you don't do what they want. That is NOT who God is. He cares SO MUCH MORE about relationship. Hitting destroys relationship, no matter what someone says (I was spanked and I'm fine).
There are hundreds of verses on gentleness, love, kindness, forgiveness, grace, and mercy, and one or two that people use to justify hitting. What about applying the WHOLE bible to parenting? If you apply more than just ONE scripture to parenting, and look ANYwhere else in the bible, you would never have a reason to hit.


I say this as a person who at one point (before children thank God) felt that I would hit, because it was what I had been taught makes a good, godly, Christian parent. I know I'm passionate about this topic, and I hope I'm not coming across as judgmental. I know how easy it is to get sucked in to that teaching, and how hard it is to break free from it. I was so deceived, and I am so thankful that God opened my eyes, and showed me who He really wants me to be to my children. It's my mission in life now, to undo all the punitive parenting that is taught in Christian circles. I hope to someday be able to teach people the truth and a better way than what has been taught the past few hundred years. I hope to be able to bring people back to true biblical parenting.
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Old 02-21-2010, 07:12 AM   #10
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Re: If you don't punish....

mommy2abigail, thank you for your passionate responses. I'm convinced that parenting unconditionally is the best thing to do, but I find it hard to concisely state my reasons short of quoting from the books I cited above. It is disappointing to see so many parents feel they HAVE to "stick to their guns" in order to be taken seriously as an authority figure.

One comparison I love is to look at what people used to say about disciplining wives compared to what some still say about children. I mean, it used to be legally and socially acceptable to "discipline" women by hitting and using physical strength. I don't know a single person who would advocate for corporal punishment for spouses today. Putting yourself in your child's shoes is hard, but without that reflection it is hard to get away from the "doing to" approach and start seeing your child as a partner.
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