Raising kids is certainly not an easy task. If you’ve embraced parenthood recently or are parents to a growing child, you are most likely to wonder (and often) how your parents did it. No doubt, you will respect them even more! Once your kids start exercising their independence or throw tantrums, you will have to discipline them. And no, not by yelling or being authoritative. Here’s a method that you should try: it’s peaceful parenting, and no, it’s not an oxymoron. Curious? We’ve covered everything you need to know about peaceful parenting. If you’ve got growing children at home, this method is worth a try!
What Is Peaceful Parenting?
Peaceful parenting is a philosophy developed by the famous clinical psychologist Laura Markham, PhD. Peaceful parenting starts with regulating your own emotions so that you become a more emotionally generous and peaceful parent. In brief, the concept of peaceful parenting she developed can be broken down into three major ideas:
- Connecting with your children
- Regulating emotions as parents
- Coaching instead of controlling
Peaceful parenting starts with controlling your own emotions. The ‘peace’ in peaceful parenting comes from you, parents. As parents, you have to live in the moment of whatever is happening with your kids at home. Moreover, you have to spend some time trying to recognize your previous experiences and honour your own emotions as your emotions might impact the way you respond to your children during certain situations.
The goal of peaceful parenting is to improve the behaviour inside out and create a strong child-parent bond. The main objective is to support kids as they will need to understand and recognize their own emotions. As a result, they will make wise choices when they grow up.
Pros of Peaceful Parenting
Though there is no exact evidence to show that this parenting method is superior to others, there are numbers of pros that children and their parents might see after trying this method of parenting. A few of the benefits include:
- Your children would be happier overall and would be better adjusted. At times, they would even cooperate without having to shout at them.
- You won’t need to yell at your kids.
- Through the act of connecting peacefully, parents and children tend to grow closer.
- When your children grow up, they may become emotionally intelligent adults who will show qualities of diligent self-discipline, keen consideration, and a dutiful sense of responsibility.
- You would also form a bond with your children that you will carry throughout their adult years.
Mindfulness is at the heart of peaceful parenting, and there are various studies that support mindfulness both for parenting and individuals. The advantages of mindfulness also range from less anxiety and stress to improved communication between children and parents. Some other issues it could benefit with are depression, hyperactivity, and improved parenting satisfaction.
Are There Any Cons of This Type of Parenting?
There are not many risks that come with peaceful parenting, especially for children who are above the toddler age. However, the philosophy does increase the attachment of parents with their young babies, which leads to co-sleeping. Co-sleeping may increase the risks of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), so most experts do not recommend this. You can practice various other parts of attachment parenting, like babywearing, and choose safer methods for the infant’s bedtime.
It is important that parents comprehend that there will never be one parenting style that would fit every family. A few areas of peaceful parenting may not benefit your family as it may with another family, but you will never know unless you check it out. If you tried peaceful parenting and it did not seem to work, you could give it some more time.
Examples of Peaceful Parenting
You may wonder if peaceful parenting techniques would apply to your teenager or tantrum-throwing toddler. The key is practice, and you may need to practice a lot if you are switching from more traditional parenting styles. A few examples are given below:
For Toddlers and Preschoolers
Screaming children can get on any parents’ nerves, especially if they are throwing a fit in a public space, like during a flight. During those times, keep the following points in mind:
- While it can be increasingly frustrating and embarrassing if your little one is screaming while in close proximity with a lot of strangers, simply try to be mindful at the moment and stay silent for a few minutes to accept your emotions. Silently count to five or take a few deep breaths.
- Try to understand and acknowledge your child’s feelings and put yourself in his place, while sharing your limit. If your child is throwing a fit because of wanting something, you could say something like “I understand that you would love to have that, but we cannot always get you what you want every time you ask”.
- If your child is still screaming, then give him a hug. Though this may feel like a reward, you are really trying to work on the connection part. You may discover that a hug can reset your child’s mood.
- Now, talking to your toddler or a preschooler about their feelings while they are in the middle of a tantrum would not work as you would it to. You might have to work towards removing them from such situations as soon as possible, but you can still do that without yelling at them.
For a School Kid
If your 8-year old kid just broke an expensive vase even though you told her to be careful:
- Resist the urge to yell at your children about how valuable the vase was. You could even verbalize this by saying your child “I am trying to calm myself down before I talk to you about what is happening”.
- You could give them an opportunity to solve the problem they created. For this, you could ask them something like “You have made a huge mess. Now what should we do to clean this up?”. Then, let them brainstorm with you, and try and come up with a solution together.
- After that, you could bring attention to the bigger issue you have at hand, not being careful around the vase like you told her to. Instead of punishing, explain to her about your position. In a calm yet firm tone, provide some guidance for your rules. You could suggest that she can run around other parts of the home, while the area around such expensive items is off-limits.
Peaceful Parenting Tips and Principles to Follow
Here are a few tips that will help you begin the process of peaceful parenting:
1. Start with yourself
The “peace” from peaceful parenting must begin with the parent, especially from their commitment to realize and regulate their own emotions. This means that when you are upset about something, you should stop, temporarily drop your agenda, and take a few minutes to just breathe. You should refuse to act under the “flight or fight” feeling that makes you angry with your children.
2. Focus on connecting
A connection is important in peaceful parenting. Therefore, before you try and change your child, you should start creating a bond. Otherwise, you will stop punishing your children, but they still would not feel motivated to do the right thing. Therefore, spend some time every day connecting with your child.
3. Explain the situation
Once you feel like you have improved the connection and cooperation between you and your children, start with the discussion. You can explain to your child why you have been yelling less lately, and why you think the punishment is not a good option. You could tell your children how much you love them and believe in them to solve their own messes. Just support your children and promise to be there for them when they need help.
4. Keep setting limits
Though you need to become flexible from your child’s point of view, you will still need to set many limits. The key is to create a limit before you get angry, while you can still empathize with his perspective.
5. Create safety
When your child shows you that he is upset, just stay calm and do not take it personally. The more you stay accepting and compassionate, the more your child will feel safe enough to show you how much he is hurt behind his anger. This will help him share his problems with you and heal.
6. Model apologies
Forcing your child to apologize may lead to resentment. But if you model an apology, then your child will follow your example and learn from it. When something goes wrong, you can show them how to step up and take responsibility.
7. Expect setbacks
You are human, so expect to make mistakes. Parenting is hard, and this kind of parenting is harder when you begin. Some days can be a huge struggle, but it will get easier. Even when it is hard, you are healing your own and your child’s old wounds, and you will definitely feel the difference.
Being a parent is hard work, especially when there are so many types of parenting styles out there for you to try out. However, if any of these ideas speak to you, then do consider taking some time to implement them since it could be the key to a harmonious home.