Guiding kids the hippie way


Do you discipline or punish your child? There is a difference. Good discipline isn't quick or easy. It takes patience, consistency, and love. Half of parents use physical force as punishment. Children are the only people in the world we're allowed to hit. They're most vulnerable and destroyed by hitting, but it's socially acceptable even though the scientific evidence of damage is overwhelming. We forget that kids are people, too. Little people that drive us crazy sometimes, but they're still people capable of the same emotions as us. They have bad days, prefer to do a task their way, get embarrassed, and have their feelings hurt. It's our job as parents to guide them through these tough situations and teach them how to express their feelings without being physical. Positive guidance works better than conditioning with fear and pain. We teach our children hitting is wrong, then hit them when they have undesirable behavior. This shows actions speak louder than words. Being able to control your emotions while finding a solution to a problem will set a positive example. Show children the same respect we show others. Hitting is not the solution. It is the problem.

Spanking is linked to increased odds of mood disorders, depression, anxiety, aggression, addiction, and can even lower IQ. Spanking causes emotional problems as well. Hitting promotes anger and aggression in children from lack of self control that is modeled by the parents. Frustration is taken out on a child with physical aggression which damages trust and bond. Hitting confuses love and violence by teaching violence can be an expression of love. This cycle of violence continues within the home by children mimicking the behavior by hitting peers and siblings. Spanking might seem to work for the moment, but the long last behaviors are negative. Children have been taught how to use physical aggression when someone upsets them instead of asserting self control and using problem solving skills. Spanking is a temporary solution. A child is compliant out of fear, rather than learning a sense of right and wrong.

What's the difference between discipline and punishment? Discipline is used to guide and teach. It promotes development of internal controls. Punishment is used for the purpose of controlling and retaliation. It validates fear, pain, intimidation, and violence as acceptable methods of resolving conflicts. There are alternative ways to discipline rather than spanking:

  • Give children choices. It lets them know what you expect without taking away decision making and problem solving. Recognize positive choices and give praise.

  • Calm Down Area: Set up a quiet area with items that will redirect the child's attention and engage their mind. When calm and the brain is regulated, children are able to internalize what you're teaching. Stress brings the brain to a lower level of function, fight or flight, and needs to be calm to be able to access a higher brain function that is responsible for logical thought and reasoning.

  • Set reasonable limits and make them known by being consistent. Children need clear boundaries.

  • Natural consequences teach cause and effect. If a toy is thrown, a natural consequence would be to put the toy away until the child is ready to play nice with the toy.

Peggy O'Mara, author of Natural Family Living, is quoted, “Effective discipline is based on loving guidance. It is based on the belief that children are born innately good and that our role as parents is to nurture their spirits as they learn about limits and boundaries, rather than to curb their tendencies toward wrongdoing. Effective discipline presumes that children have reasons for their behavior and that cooperation can be engaged to solve shared problems.” Instead of lashing out in anger over a bad decision a child makes, take a deep breath and remember this tiny human is learning and exploring their environment. They love and trust you more than anything in this world. Imagine that world crumbling when you're physically aggressive with them. Instead of training a child with pain and fear, build them up with praise and redirection. Teach them self control and problem solving skills that will guide them through life.



By: Chell Edwards

“Chell, the cloth diaper obsessed mother, who loves coffee and feminist conversations, is an advocate for peaceful parenting. ”