Thursday, October 14, 2010

What Gentle Discipline is Not

I love how Ezzo describes the attachment parent in Babywise: a total pushover parent with absolutely no boundaries. While this is most certainly true of some people who practice attachment parenting, it is also most certainly true of some "punitive" minded parents.

I love taking my son to the park in the evenings. But sometimes I get so tired of parents who sit on the sidelines and yell at their kids, "stop doing xyz, or you'll be sorry!" Minutes tick by, the child continues his/her behavior, and the parent either pretends not to notice the child, or the parent continues with meaningless yelling. Occasionally, said parent will become incredibly angry, walk over to his/her child, yank them by the arm, and either pop them on the bottom or drag them, parent and child screaming, to the bench on the side. The parent is angry; the child feels that he/she has been treated unjustly. No real discipline is occurring here. My heart cries as I watch parent/child relationships deteriorate in this way.

Gentle discipline takes another approach. The parent sees the child doing something dangerous or harmful to others. The parent walks over to child, and redirects. If the child digs in his/her heels and refuses to be redirected, the parent, kindly and respectfully, yet firmly, holds the child's hand, or picks the child up, steering the child in a different direction. The parent shows the child acceptable alternatives to the unwanted behavior. The parent is willing to play with the child.

I love some of the results I am seeing in my son's life due to this type of discipline. When I will not allow him to do something, yet express my understanding at his frustration, more times then I can count, he comes running to my arms, telling me, "I'm sad..." or "I'm worried about...." or "I wanted to...". Isn't this the way God wants us to respond to Him when He tells us "no" or "later" or "that is bad for you"? He wants us to go running to His arms for comfort!

Well, little man is waking from his nap...I will post more on this subject later.


  1. Great post! My eyes started to mist up at your last paragraph. "Isn't this the way God wants us to respond to Him..." Yes! My parents wanted this from me but could not figure out that their methods of discipline had long ago shamed me into either keeping any feelings that were a liability to myself, or exploding in violence when they were too intense to contain. I responded to God the same way I responded to my parents (though I love them with all my heart), and only in my mid 20's am I just beginning to learn to run to my Papa in Heaven with everything. I'm stumbling along trying to begin to teach my almost-toddler son what I am just beginning to learn. How good of our Lord to set me within a community of parents who can help teach and encourage me along the way! Thank you for sharing. :)

  2. Thank you for your clearly written post! I loved how you said, 'no real discipline is occuring here.' You are so very right!

    I love the title of our blog, too btw. :)


  3. Yet another post I am bookmarking!!! I am so thankful I found your blog. I just wish I hadn't listened to fear based propaganda at the start. Please pray for us as we try, by God's grace to repair the breach.