Tag Archives: peaceful parenting

Mindful Parenting : Gentle Discipline Part Three

Today, I wanted to look more closely into the concept of “Gentle Disciple“, “Simple Discipline“, “Loving Authority” or “Respectful Discipline“. I think this subject is often a sticky web of mixed concepts and expectations, including strands from our own childhood, inconsistent societal expectations, cultural overlays and personal expectations. Through this three-part series I will attempt to piece together what Gentle Discipline is, how it’s different from traditional punitive models of discipline, and most importantly how we can strive to consistently use it in our homes. A lot of my research on this subject is inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner, Kim John Payne, Magda Gerber, Janet Lansbury, Joseph Chilton Pearce, John Holt, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Alfie Kohn, to name a few.

Steps to Effectively and Consistently use Gentle Discipline in our homes

(advice for children up to age 7):

Familiarize yourself with the typical qualities of your child’s age group. Specifically, what is age appropriate behaviour and what are the developmental milestones he/she is experiencing?

  • If you understand that a two-year-old is developmentally very likely to eat with his/her hands, throw food and make a mess, you’re less inclined to label the behaviour as bad or good and more inclined to continue to model table manners each day as she grows.
  • The Gesell Institute Booklets are a great place to start reading about development development year by year.

Connect with your child each and everyday.

  • Connect with your child daily using physical touch, eye contact, conscious listening and real presence
  • Daily connection is the number one discipline tool that will carry you through all your years of parenting

Limit choices.

  • For a general rule of thumb: No choices for children ages 1-5, two options maximum for children ages 5-7
  • Choices overwhelm children and intimidate very young children. Young children want to know that you are taking care of them, making decisions for them and creating protective boundaries for them

Have a strong Family Rhythm.

  • Seasonal, Weekly and Daily Rhythms are the anchors that provide security to your young child.
  • If you have a strong bedtime rhythm it is less likely your little ones are going to fight sleep because it’s the same routine each and every night. Whereas if your evenings are always a little bit different it’s hard for your young child, they do not have any subtle cues to signal to them that it’s now time to begin quietening down and getting to sleep

Do your own inner work.

  • Take some time each day to fill yourself up, however you do this: creative expression, prayer, journalling, meditation or exercise
  • “If you want to change the world, start with yourself”- Gandhi

Speak pictorially to your young child.

  • Try to avoid direct commands or use too many words and details when speaking to a young child
  • Instead of, “Come and sit down for dinner” you could say, “Little Kangaroo, hop over here and fill your belly with some warm food”.

Use Time-Ins.

“Time-out is actually an abbreviation for time out from positive reinforcement. The practice was developed almost half a century ago as a way of training laboratory animals….When you send a child away, what’s really being switched off or withdrawn is your presence, your attention, your love. You may not have thought of it that way.”  

– from Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn

  • If your young child has crossed a boundary sit him/her on your lap and very simply explain that “we don’t…” or “Now you must sit with me until…”

Lead by example.

  • If you ask a young child to tidy up their toys, you must help them!
  • If you lose your temper, be sure to apologize to your children afterwards

What are some of the ways you hold boundaries in your home? Please do share your thoughts in the comments below. 

#realmothersdiversevoices : Meagan Wilson

I am thrilled to be sharing a new interview series with you each and every week. In this series my intention is to reveal the endless ways our family values can inform our Daily Rhythm. The mothers I have interviewed lead diverse lives but they each have a huge sense of clarity about what their Family Values are (even if they change over time) and consciously and creatively strive to create a Daily Rhythm in alignment with those values.

It is my hope that through these stories more Mothers feel inspired to explore what their own family values are, to question them and bring them to life in their everyday experience. I know that seeing the world through another Mother’s lens will develop more empathy, understanding and compassion between us.

To kick off the series I thought it was only fair to share my own answers. Next week we will hear from Jennifer Pepito of the Peaceful Preschool.

Who are you? Can you introduce yourself, your work and your family?

I am Meagan Wilson, founder of Whole Family Rhythms, Mother, Wife, visionary writer & creator. Whole Family Rhythms is an online community and business that aims to connect and inspire mothers, carers and communities with each other so that they feel empowered to raise children who are wholly connected with themselves (head, heart and hands) and to the planet. I have four gorgeous children, three of which are still immersed in ‘Early Childhood’.

What is one of the greatest joys you experience as a Mother?

Watching my children shed a layer of fear or doubt while discovering more confidence and a sense of self-understanding than they had before.

What is one of the biggest challenges you face daily as a Mother?

Emotionally I struggle with the normal (and sometimes not as normal) pain and suffering my children experience as a result of being human (social upsets, stomachaches, allergies, fears). As a Mother, if I could shield my children from as much suffering as I could, I would! And everyday I am confronted with the truth that in all life there is both joy and suffering and we cannot protect our children from any of it.

What does having “Rhythm in your Home” mean to you?

Rhythm for our family is creating a predicable flow of daily events which act as a compass- leading the way and keeping us on course. Our Monthly, Weekly and Daily Rhythms are consciously animated to reflect our family’s values and beliefs.

Can you give an example of some of your most cherished ‘Family Values’?

  • Love, Respect and Connection amongst all family members
  • Experiencing creative expression & freedom each day
  • Consciously consuming food and materials so that we align our family values with our consumption patterns
  • Growing, Raising and Making our own food
  • Protecting the Wonder in Childhood
  • Modelling gratitude and generosity everyday

How do you hope to pass these values on to your children? Or in other words, how do you manifest these family values in your daily rhythm?

With young children we as parents try to model these values as much as we can. This means embodying these values ourselves through our thoughts, words and actions. This takes a lot of inner work, thought and conscious action on our part. So for example, instead of lecturing young children about being generous, we will try regularly model acts of generosity like baking muffins for a neighbour or helping a friend in need.

Can you outline a typical ‘Weekday Rhythm’ for you and your children. Specifically when/where/how do you and your little ones eat, sleep/rest, play inside/outside, work/learn and make time for selfcare?

5am Adults wake up, Mama meditates,
5:30 Dad does barn chores and milks, Mama prepares breakfast and packs lunches
6am everyone wakes up, eats breakfast, makes beds and gets dressed
7:15 Mama or Dad take two older children to school, parent who takes children to school then heads to the office
8:30 Parent who stayed home with younger children is with them for the day, clean up house, free play
9:30 Outside Time
11 Morning Tea, Guided Theme of the Day, Inside Free Play
12 Lunch
12:30 Nap/Rest time/Stories
1:30 Dinner Prep
2pm Wake up, afternoon snack, Outside Play
3:30pm Parent at work picks school children up
4:30pm Whole Family is home together, free play, music practice
5:15/30 Dinner
6 Bath, Teeth, Hair
6:30 Two little ones books, blessings and bed by 7
7pm Six-year-old chapter book and some readers aloud, eight-year-old independent reading
7:30 Guided meditation with eight-year-old,
8pm Brad and I have a cup of tea, talk, discuss week’s plans, read
9:30 Bed for grown-ups

How important are higher belief systems, stories, literature, art, family history and creative expression to your family? How do you weave these into your family life?

We use Pagan/Christian Festivals to weave virtues and moral lessons into the year. We do not dogmatically follow any one religion but draw from different spiritual pools. Artistic self-expression is a strong value of ours. Our son plays the piano or with his guitar constantly which we put very few limits on. My older daughter has watercolour paints, brushes, glues, scissors, crayons and a variety of paper in her room which she can access at any time- which is most days. My younger children have access to crayons, paper, modelling dough and other artistic materials whenever they choose. We also try to make time for poetry, music and some movement as much as we can.

When does your family rhythm get thrown off kilter?

When we’re sick we go into a different sort of family rhythm. Once everyone is well again it takes about a week to get back into our regular family rhythm.

Do you consciously re-evaluate and change your family rhythm with the seasons and ages and stages of your kids?

Yes we follow the rhythm of the seasons so that the artistic crafts, songs, stories and lessons we learn are in tune with what is happening in the physical world around us. So for example right now bedtimes are a bit later than in the deep Winter because there is more light. We are decorating eggs because it’s close to Easter, we’re planting seeds for the garden and we’re eating more raw greens as they become locally available.

When you’re feeling stuck, tired, frustrated with your role as Mother, what do you need most to shift your energy and perception?

Time alone! When I am disciplined enough (or everyone is well enough- because sick children wreak havoc on our Rhythm) to give myself a whole hour or longer in the mornings before anyone else is awake, my days are magical. I am very slow to wake up and I feel I have a lot creatively to digest, process and express right after sleep so this time is critical to my presence and contentedness.

If you could recommend one book to ALL Mothers out there what would it be?

Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Mindful Parenting : Gentle Discipline Part Two

Today, I wanted to look more closely into the concept of “Gentle Disciple“, “Simple Discipline“, “Loving Authority” or “Respectful Discipline“. I think this subject is often a sticky web of mixed concepts and expectations, including strands from our own childhood, inconsistent societal expectations, cultural overlays and personal expectations. Through this three-part series I will attempt to piece together what Gentle Discipline is, how it’s different from traditional punitive models of discipline, and most importantly how we can strive to consistently use it in our homes. A lot of my research on this subject is inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner, Kim John Payne, Magda Gerber, Janet Lansbury, Joseph Chilton Pearce, John Holt, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Alfie Kohn, to name a few.

How is Gentle Discipline different than the traditional Punitive Models of Discipline?

Alfie Kohn lists the way punishment fails in his article Punitive Damages:

  1. It makes people mad.  As a form of control punishment enrages and disempowers the receiver and even worse, the victims may eventually become victimizers.
  2. It teaches power.  Punishment provides the child with a model for expressing power over another.
  3. It eventually loses its effectiveness.   As children become more and more desensitized to punishments they become less and less effective.
  4. It erodes our relationships with our kids.  When we punish we become power enforcers instead of carers who lovingly connect and guide our children.
  5. It distracts kids from the important issues.  Punishment doesn’t lead to children reflecting on their wrongs- instead it turns their anger (and distracts from the original issue) towards the punisher.
  6. It makes kids more self-centered.   A child’s focuses on how h/’she is personally affected by the punishment (or potential punishment) instead of exploring why there is a boundary that needs to be met in the first place.

So now that we know that punishments and rewards are not helpful, what is the difference between a punishment and a boundary?

For me, Gentle Discipline infers remaining connected to your child while simultaneously setting and holding boundaries. As an ever-evolving parent with ever-evolving children the boundaries I set are also constantly evolving. But I am getting more and more clear about how to set them and how to hold them.

In Beyond the Rainbow Bridge, Barbara J Patterson writes about “being a calming force in the midst of chaos”. Meghan Leahy describes boundary setting as the parent being the beautiful garden wall (boundary) that is neither punitive nor judgemental- just loving, firm and unwavering. Carrie Dendtler describes holding boundaries as remaining “Ho Hum“. When we reflect on our own children it quickly becomes clear that they are more responsive to loving guidance when we empathize with them and resist the temptation to be punitive.

As a parent it’s important to remember that you can move and shift boundaries if you feel the need. They are not set in stone. Of course consistency is important, but often when we’re not holding a boundary it’s because we as the parent do not have clarity about why we are holding it in the first place. When you feel that there is a specific boundary that your child is constantly pushing and which you are not holding well, re-connect with your WHY. Ask yourself, Why am I holding this boundary in the first place? Why is it important? Simply answering this question clearly is enough to resolve the issue one way or the other.

Boundaries have a myriad of purposes- boundaries keep children physically and emotionally safe, healthy and happy. Boundaries inform older children about group dynamics and foster empathy for others.

The final part of this Gentle Discipline series will delve into how we can create and hold boundaries in our home depending on our children’s ages and developmental stages.

For me personally, not allowing anyone to snack before dinner is a very easy boundary to set and hold (even if it means a lot of emotional upset from hungry children), limiting screen use is another very easy boundary for me to set because I feel it is a strong family value for us. Boundaries I have trouble with are things like limiting my eldest’s bedtime (he just loves reading- “one more page”, he begs! “And reading is so good for him”, I think…). I also have trouble preventing little ones from toddling into our bed in the middle of the night (my need for a proper night’s sleep clashes with the empathy and attachment I feel my three-year-old needs at night sometimes, plus I know she will eventually grow out of it). For me, the boundaries I struggle to hold are clearly the boundaries I feel wishy-washy about myself. When the conviction is there, I hold them. When I do not feel clarity about why I am holding a boundary, I simply don’t hold it. And in these cases I need to re-assess why and if I want the boundary to be continued to be held.

Do you struggle with setting and holding some boundaries in your home? Which are easy for you to hold and which are more difficult?

Book Club : Simplicity Parenting Chapter One

Today I will be summarizing and discussing the first chapter of Kim John Payne’s book, Simplicity Parenting. In a world where childhood seems to be flooded with too much, too fast and too soon Payne helps parents clear the way to a simpler, more connected and whole-hearted family life. After reading this book parents will feel empowered… read more




Mindful Parenting : Gentle Discipline Part One

Today, I wanted to look more closely into the concept of “Gentle Disciple“, “Simple Discipline“, “Loving Authority” or “Respectful Discipline“. I think this subject is often a sticky web of mixed concepts and expectations, including strands from our own childhood, inconsistent societal expectations, cultural overlays and personal expectations.Through this three-part series I will attempt to… read more