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I heard over and over again people telling me that a child cannot be raised without strict discipline and punishments.
The truth is that I never felt like this.
In my heart, I always knew there is a better way to raise kids. I truly believed that gentle and loving methods can work! So I decided to raise my child without punishments, and I made myself a promise to never give up.
My boy is now 6 years old and I have never punished him or put him in a time-out.
I wanted to share our story to let other parents know that discipline without punishments is possible.
Raising kids in a gentle and positive way doesn’t make them misbehave more or disrespect their parents.
My boy is very kind and cooperative, but he is also a very strong-willed child. So disciplining him is not always easy.
Luckily, positive parenting has always offered me the tools I needed to overcome the challenges we faced along the way.
Parenting without punishments: How to deal with challenging behaviors
We went through difficult times when no gentle method seemed to work and we had to be very patient and confident that what we do is right. But every time we ended up finding a gentle solution for our struggles.
All kids go through difficult stages at some point. The only difference is how we react to them.
I think these are crucial moments for all parents who choose gentle parenting.
Sometimes it may seem that gentle parenting is not working and the other methods (including punishments and time-outs) are more efficient because they promise immediate effects.
From my point of view, it is more important to build a strong relationship with the child and gain his cooperation in a gentle way than making him obey us and do everything we ask.
On the long run, punishments don’t work and they only make the parent-child relationship worse.
When you are in doubt, you can just ask yourself how you felt when you were punished in your childhood. Did punishments made you a better person or just made you hide more from your parents and lie to them when you did something wrong?
What helps me never give up on gentle parenting
For me, the best motivation is seeing my son growing up as a happy and confident child. The fact that he is so kind and understanding is a proof that our efforts to raise him gently paid off.
When we have difficult times when all the explanations and playful methods don’t work, I always remind myself that it’s only a stage and I just need to find the right approach for dealing with it.
There is always a way to do it in a positive and gentle manner!
And sooner or later we always found the right solution! At the end of all our difficult parenting moments, our relationship became stronger and I learned new lessons about how to be a better mom for my son.
What we use instead of punishments or time-outs
A lot of people imagine raising kids without punishments and time-outs means not disciplining them at all or letting them do whatever they want.
This is totally wrong!
We do not use punishments, but we do set clear boundaries and teach our child to follow the rules. The only difference is how we do this.
Gentle parenting involves a lot of explanations to help kids understand why they must follow the rules. Also, boundaries are important for every child, but they can be set in a gentle way.
We always stop the negative behaviors, but we do not punish them.
I first try to find out what really caused the negative behavior (kids misbehave because they want to let us know they feel bad). Then I discuss with him about our rules and what he did wrong, allowing him to express his feelings and trying to help him eliminate those negative feelings.
We do not use time-outs but instead, we use “time in“. This means that I sit together with my son in a quiet place and hug him (or just stay near him, if he doesn’t want to be hugged) until he feels better.
When he feels better we discuss what happened and find a solution together.
I also use a kind of “time-out” for me, when I feel I’m too angry to handle the situation in a gentle way.
Usually, after a couple of minutes, I regain my calm and I can handle the situation better. This avoids a lot of moments when I would be tempted to yell or say something I will regret.
There are a lot of ways to avoid punishments and replace them with gentle alternatives. The most important thing is to know there is always another way and punishments don’t have to be part of a child’s life!
It’s never too late for gentle parenting!
This is something I learned from a conference about discipline held by Tina Bryson. She said that often parents think that if they parent using punishments there is nothing they can do to change this.
The truth is that it is never too late to change and every child deserves this!
If you feel that you don’t want to punish your kids or to put them in time-outs anymore, you can change this!
It is not easy, but I can promise you it is worth the effort!
When you’ll eliminate all the punishments and time-outs and you’ll give gentle parenting a chance, you will certainly discover a whole new perspective! You’ll find new ways to communicate with your child and to find positive solutions for the parenting challenges you are facing.
I shared my story hoping to inspire other parents to raise kids without punishments and time-outs by letting them know that this is possible! And even more: it is really wonderful!
I am only at the beginning of this journey and I’m sure that more difficult times are ahead of us. But I have the confidence that positive parenting will help us find solutions any time we struggle.
For me, raising my child in a gentle way was the best choice I could make! Positive parenting changed my life in so many ways, and I’m sure it can change yours too!
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photo credit: Alena Ozerova / shutterstock.com