The Girl & I have been at the in-laws since Wed. evening since the Hubby is in Florida for work. Yesterday I was able to get away for five hours of alone time. What did I do, you ask. A mani-pedi? A massage? A little retail therapy? No, I went to a parenting class in Santa Barbara. Because I am a giver. And because I truly feel like I need a lot of help with my parenting skills, as does nearly every mom I know. But VenturaMom, you say, you have mAd muTHR sKilZ. Um, nope. They're not so dope (feel free to hit me for that if you ever see me in real life).
The presentation by Dr. Aletha Solter was an overview of her Aware Parenting philosophy. It is much like the attachment parenting style I have used with The Girl, with the primary difference in the discipline aspect.
Preventing issues that can lead to behavior that is undesirable (ie: coloring on the wall with a Crayon) is one part of it. You are responsible for teaching your child what is the appropriate (we always color on paper, at the activity table). You need to make sure they have the physical tools handy (have paper available for your child) and encourage creativity. This is actually one example that has worked very well for us. We made it clear to The Girl she is only allowed to color on her table in her room. Paper and crayons are always available. She now has an easel as well and knows she cannot move the chalk or markers from the easel tray.
Dr. Solter also covered non-punitive discipline. I am still getting my head around a couple of the concepts. No punishment of any kind - physical, verbal, consequential (ie: time-out). The no rewards or bribes (stickers=bad) part blew me away. She teaches that none of these methods will teach a child to think on her own and become an "autonomous problem-solver." For example, if a child is rewarded with a sticker after every time she goes potty on the toilet, she will come to expect rewards for something she should do anyway. Same goes for a reward system for brushing teeth, household chores, etc. They need to be shown love/acceptance/appreciation constantly, not because they have an artificial goal. According to Solter, children who are punished or rewarded feel controlled, while a democratic approach to parenting includes setting boundaries, teaching acceptable behaviors, and being very aware of the child's feelings (as well as your own) creates a healthy, balanced, peaceful child.
Of course there is a lot more to it. But she did give me a glimpse of the mother I wish I could be. Peaceful is such a big, important word for me. I strive for it, but rarely achieve it. I don't want to threaten to pinch The Girl to elicit cooperation. That makes me a tyrant. I don't want to bargain for a few more minutes on the computer by giving her a lollipop. That makes me controlling. But how do you get that peaceful, cooperative, democratic family? Practice, I guess.
Read up if you like. I know I will.