Just the basic tenet of “crying” being a good thing and emotional upsets as a pathway to remedy psychological hurts is enough to throw any of us into pure skepticism. Couple that with the elimination of punishments and rejecting rewards and the approach doesn’t have a fighting chance with those of us who were raised with conventional parenting. It almost feels like it couldn’t possibly work and somehow the kids have “won”. At least that’s how I saw it when I began to change things up and realized that the idea of “peaceful parenting” begins with a connection. In the beginning, I kept thinking how can I get my kids to behave? Will anyone ever brush their teeth or follow directions? What if they don’t learn and understand that there are consequences to actions in this world? Am I setting them up for a life of missteps and poor behavior? Will they fail to “learn” right from wrong without consequences and punishments?
Our society has said that when we do the wrong thing we are “taught” not to with a consequence or a punitive measure. Speed on the freeway and risk being issued a traffic ticket. Those things will always remain in our world, and our kids will become highly aware of them with no need for instruction or warning. Is it necessary that we be the heavy-handed, punishment wielding parent who judges all behaviors as “good” and “bad”, rewarding and reprimanding as we go? Do those measures really work? Are kids better behaved in households where there are punishments? If this is true then we would never need to punish, because they would work. Or do those children over time learn to lie to get around the consequences throwing their siblings and friends under the bus as they go? Science tells us this is the case. Especially with rewards. Desired behaviors are often present with rewards initially but as soon as you cease the use of the “carrots” their great behaviors go to the wayside as well.
Why is creating a connection important? What does that look like and how or why can it be the way to a happy household and well-behaved kids? When we forge a deep connection, our kids are endeared enough to us to want to behave. That behavior becomes intrinsically, organically derived from a desire to want to do the right things because they believe it is the right thing to do. Now, will it work all the time? No. However, it will prevail in a house devoid of punishments and rewards and steeped in connection. I have seen it work in my own household, one that I ran completely on the ideas of punishments and rewards, early in my parenting journey, and now have abandoned those ideas altogether.
Nothing in this parenting world is perfect because life is difficult and full of emotional upset and hurt. However, if we choose to offer a connection, we may see long-term benefits both for our kids and ourselves. These ideas go against everything society says will work, but all righteous movements in our history have proven otherwise, including the ideas of race equality, gender equality and fair treatment of all marginalized groups. So join the crusade to a more connected society.