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Friday, May 9, 2014

Do you use #softhands? Consider Positive Discipline

When we became parents, Stan and I naturally gravitated towards the attachment parenting model.  I realize now that it was also because of how I was parented as a child.  During our recent family trip to Tokyo, my dad shared about how an uncle told him how to parent his family - that he as a parent must be feared by his children - rule by the rod, not by hugs and kisses.  But my dad disagreed.  He believed that we should learn to obey him because we love and respect him and not because we feared him.  So my siblings and I were never lacking for warmth and affection from our parents and for this I am truly grateful.

Attachment Parenting is a philosophy or style popularized by Dr. William Sears.  It is based on 8 principles of parenting and you can read more about it here.  Locally, my attachment parenting go-to person is Jen Tan of Attached at the Hip.  I am happy that she has started a Facebook group on Attachment Parenting Philippines hopefully leading to the establishment a local chapter of API in the future! (hint! hint! Pressure Jen!)

When I received an invitation from Suzette Medina of Save the Children Philippines to attend an orientation on Positive Discipline by Dr. Joan Durrant, I was pretty excited and immediately blocked off the date.

Save the Children has been actively promoting Positive Discipline in different countries within their network.  In the Philippines, they have been working on a bill banning corporal punishment in home and schools.  They have also been providing information campaigns, orientations, workshops and trainings to parents and educators on how to make positive discipline part of the child and parent/teacher's life.


The 1-day orientation I attended was but a brief background on positive discipline in everyday parenting.   Dr. Durrant wrote a handbook for parents which you can download for free from this link.     What were my most important learnings during the orientation?

Corporal punishment has no positive outcome whatsoever.   Instead, kids learn how to get things their way with aggression.  Children never forget.  There are currently 37 countries who have prohibited all forms of corporal punishment with Sweden leading the pack in 1979.  Research amongst Swedish kids showed no ill effects of the ban on corporal punishment.  

Foremost on my mind was the Christian teaching about the proper way of spanking about instilling fear of the Lord in the kids, not using your hand, explaining child's mistake, spanking for mistakes of the heart, etc. etc.  Dr. Durrant replied with this slide:

Dr. Durrant explained that there is no justification for hitting.  "I hit because I love you is not acceptable"  nor is "I do this because I love you."  Love should NEVER be paired with violence.  She also explains that a review of biblical passages on hitting all refers to the Old Testament.  In the New Testament, Jesus is all about love and never about punishment.   "Discipline" comes from the Latin word disciplina which means to teach and educate, not punish.

What shocked me most about Dr. Durrant's talk was that there were other forms of punishment and it was not just corporal.  Punishment included segregation - isolation, time-out rooms.  It also included removal of privileges and objects, rewards and incentives, sticker charts, group punishment, competition for rewards.  People thought that if the punishment is not painful, it is positive discipline.    However, Dr. Durrant emphasized that all of these actions are still punishment because this resulted in rejection, bullying.

This made me think because while Stan and I do not hit, we did the others e.g. rewards, removal of privileges and we also yell.   But I am happy to learn that it is not too late.  Even if you have been doing punishment for years, you can still repair it.  The key is to be more connected.

So what is positive discipline?  It is helping children develop self-control over time and happens step by step.  It is a process - not instantaneous.  It requires clear communication, respecting children and earning their respect by behaving in ways that merit respect.  Positive discipline is teaching children how to make their own decisions and building the children's skills and confidence.   It is a rights-based approach because it respects the child and fosters respect for other people's rights which results in less bullying and better peer relationships.  When we learn about our own rights, we learn that others also have these rights --- rights belong to everybody.

Dr. Durrant also gave us tools for implementing positive discipline in our home using a plan, the tools, the materials and the approach to obstacles, challenges and frustrations.
It is an ongoing process to create a climate in your home that fosters your child's learning and strengthens your relationships.

Because I believe that this topic is very important, aside from this blog post, I went ahead to plan an orientation with my parenting online group - Newlyweds at Work.  Save the Children is willing to conduct these orientations with parent groups because they believe it is important to spread the word about positive discipline.   For now, the N@W orientation is closed but stay tuned because sometime in the future, Attachment Parenting Philippines' group will organize one open to the public.  So be sure to join the group to get updates. 
#softhands lotion by Indigobaby
What form of discipline do you practice in your own homes?

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