Slow Parenting Discipline?

We’d had a lovely time at the playground but it was dinnertime. Admittedly, we were a little tired, but the playground is only five blocks away from our house. The Bear had chosen to bike to and from the park. I had Banana in the stroller and she was a little cranky since she was in dire need of a diaper change.

As we’re crossing one of the roads, the Bear struggled to pull her bike over the curb. What was usually a simple task had turned into a momentous undertaking, “I can’t. I just can’t!” The tears started and the whining began.

I could feel the tantrum coming like a thunderstorm. All the warning signs were there. I braced myself.

With a deep breath, I picked up her bike from the road. We had a little chat about how close we were to home and how she was a fast biker. I asked her to keep going. Banana was starting to really fuss.

Two minutes later, the Bear stopped. The tears started again. “My legs are tired,” she bawled.

Fine. I picked up the bike and draped it over the top of the stroller. My defeated four-year-old hitched a ride on the front of the stroller. Only a block to go.

Phew, I think, I’ve narrowly escaped.

Unfortunately, my positivity was pre-emptive. The Bear jumped off the stroller to say hello to the neighbour’s dog behind the fence. Not right now, I said firmly, we are heading home.

Well, that did it. I did the warning, the countdown, then there was the refusal to listen, the running away from me, all on top of Banana crying in the stroller. The end result was me physically lifting the Bear from the ground and carrying her home. All the while she is crying, screaming, kicking.

TIME OUT! Arrrrgggg.

Later, I think things over. Would SuperNanny reprimand me for giving too many warnings, for being too soft? Would the attachment parents scold me for not being more supportive and demonstrative of my love? What is slow parenting discipline supposed to look like?

Tom Hodgkinson offers some suggestions in The Idle Parent:

– “Whining is an expression of powerlessness and dependence…we need to replace the whining with a calm request for help, or better still, train them to resolve their own problems and satisfy their own needs.”
– “The more tyranny, the more naughtiness. The more rules, the more rules there are to be broken.”
– “We need to get out of our heads that the idea that saying ‘no’ is an act of unkindness.”
– We need to be confident as parents. “The quest for perfection must be abandoned.”
– Do not stop loving, hugging, kissing and praising your child. But this will come naturally if you enjoy your life and do not resent their intrusion.
– “Tell the kids off in private and praise in public.”
– Manners are learned by example, not by rules.

Re-reading some of the Idle Parent made me evaluate our discipline strategy. Generally, we believe in natural consequences – for example, if the Bear is being rude and obnoxious I walk away from her and tell her that I don’t want to be around people like that. But, the time out strategy works well in extreme cases and seems to fit with the Bear’s personality.

There are literally thousands of discipline theories and tactics for parents to use with their children. All of which might be appropriate for certain families. In other words, I don’t believe in a single, perfect discipline strategy. But in terms of slow parenting, I think there are a few things to always keep in mind that are in addition to Hodgkinson’s tips listed above:

– Natural consequences work well since they involve little parental involvement and can happen even when the parent is not there. This is why I’m a fan of the ‘work it out amongst yourselves’ approach when there are disagreements among children.
– Give children space and time to solve their own problems.
– Be the best example you can be. At the same time…
– Understand that children can relate to a range of emotions. Let your children see you cry, get grumpy, and be angry. This is what real people are like. They need healthy of examples of how to be sad, upset, frustrated, etc.
– I’m a big advocate of finding what works well for your family and child. We’re all different.

Thoughts? What tips would you add?

3 Responses to “Slow Parenting Discipline?”

  1. 1 Melanie April 15, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Hi there it’s me, I am also visiting this web site daily, this site is actually pleasant and the viewers are truly sharing fastidious thoughts.

  2. 2 Prerna July 4, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    First time visitor here and I love your blog, already! Am a big advocate of slow parenting, attachment parenting and mindfulness. As far as discipline goes, what works with my toddler is giving her time and space to calm down. I just go out of the room after telling her that “Mama, can’t understand you whn you’re yelling and howling.”
    Tends to work.

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