“Forget ‘rocket science,’ or ‘brain surgery’ : When we want to make the point that something isn’t really all that difficult, we ought to say, ‘Hey, it’s not parenting!‘” ~ Alfie Kohn

Parenting is hard, and there are no easy answers because there is no one size fits all approach that works for every family or every child or every developmental stage.  As parents, we are constantly needing to adapt and to do our own work to become more conscious and less reactive.  Who couldn’t use some help with that?!  Our children are constantly showing us:

  • when we can’t be present
  • what triggers us
  • what unresolved issues we have from our own childhood
  • what needs to be healed within us

My 4 Guidelines of Parenting:

  1. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  These words of wisdom from Benjamin Franklin couldn’t be more true when it comes to parenting.  Many behaviors can be avoided with a little prevention- good sleep, healthy eating habits, etc.
  2. No punishment.  Punishment teaches children not to do things- but for the wrong reason.  Not doing something to avoid a punishment is different than genuinely not wanting to  do something.  The motivation is extrinsic (external) vs. intrinsic (internal)
  3. No reward. Reward is the flip side of punishment.  It is again using extrinsic motivation rather than encouraging intrinsic motivation.  Another way of saying it:  It’s bribery.
  4. No violence.  Violence erodes the relationship between parent and child.  The parent is in a position of power, and this power should be wielded with the upmost respect.  Violence can be physical, emotional or verbal.

The best parenting resources I’ve found:

Unconditional Parenting, by Alfie Kohn

Alfie does an amazing job of citing research about why traditional parenting methods such as “time out” and saying, “good job!” don’t work.  Read Alfie’s article on 5 Reasons to Stop Saying “Good Job!”

The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary

This book is all about the call to parents to see parenting as a spiritual awakening process, and how this can change the world.

Raising Children Compassionately, and Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg

This book makes an excellent case against traditional punishment and reward, and talks about meeting people’s needs instead.

Click here to read an article I wrote on punishment and reward.

Click here  and here to read articles I wrote about using NVC with toddlers.

Click here to read an article I wrote about meltdowns.

Click here to read an article I wrote on how to teach children NVC.

Click here to read an article I wrote on parenting and mindfulness.