I’m not sure where to begin this post but I do know, this has been a highly requested topic for months… I do have strong ideas on what kind of parenting I want to be and how I want to raise my son but I’ve never had to explain it in writing before. But, i’ll give it a go!
Let’s dive into the manipulation myth! “If you always pick him up when he cries he’ll soon have you wrapped around his little finger”….“You have to ignore, or punish her tantrums, otherwise she’ll learn to control you and think she can get anything she wants if she behaves like it in future”.
Much of today’s parenting advice focusses on the idea that children, right from birth, manipulate their parents. The advice encourages parents to keep control and never allow their children to ‘get their own way’. It is a combative approach which not only believes children to effectively be the enemy, but also ones capable of scheming and plotting from the day they are born. The manipulation paranoia stems from an age of parenting with the belief that the power of any situation should always be with the adult and that children should respect their elders, but do not deserve the same back.
There is no possibility that a baby, laying alone in his cot at night, chooses to cry because he decides that he would rather be in the arms of his parent, even though he is perfectly fine where he is. This plotting and scheming would require the baby to plan and think through several responses that the parent may have. It requires him to indeed control his own behaviour too. For this all too happen we would be witnessing the birth of some sort of superhuman genius baby. Rather what is happening is the baby is crying because he cannot control his dominant response to fear and isolation, which is to cry. He cannot think hypothetically or critically. He cannot understand that he is in no danger despite the ‘fight or flight’ response occurring in his body. He cries because the primitive abilities of his brain allow him to do nothing else.
Believing that babies and young children can and do manipulate us predisposes to parent as two teams. Us against them. It predisposes us to punish and ignore, rather than connect and understand. Ironically this ‘us and them’ attitude and ignorance of a child’s true needs is far more likely to create a manipulative child in the future. If we raise our children to know that their needs will be met, they will have no need to manipulate us in the future. If a baby cries, they need to be picked up, if a toddler tantrums they need us to calm them. The only thing we create when we respond is trust, and trust and manipulation are two very different things.
There are 12 different types of parenting styles (every family is different) but you usually fall into one of the twelve categories. I suppose I’d fall into the category of ‘Positive Parenting’! Yes, that is a real thing. What Is Positive Parenting? The Scientific Origin of Positive Parenting: It’s a formalized parenting philosophy is actually a relatively new phenomenon.
Characteristics and Goals of the Positive Parenting Approach: Along similar lines to positive psychology, positive parenting is about empowering children. It’s about unconditional support which will powerfully fuel their self esteem so as to prepare them to get the most out themselves and of life. Positive parenting is thus fuelled by the belief that complete fulfilment and deep satisfaction result from being authentic to the potentialities of the self. Rather than imposing strict rules, preaching dos and don’ts and teaching, positive parenting focuses on guiding or in more ‘therapeutic’ terms, coaching.
I’m also an advocate of Attachment Parenting. My style would probably be a mix of attachment parenting and positive parenting!
For example, I don’t believe in strict rules or schedules This is something highly controversial in the ‘mommy world’ but I wouldn’t want someone to force me to sleep when I’m not tired or force me to stay awake when I was just to ‘fit a schedule’. Same goes for eating and pretty much everything else. I know some parents don’t let their children leave the table before finishing their food, but I don’t believe in that style of parenting. I believe this is one of the reasons kids so commonly rebel (they feel they have no say, even over the most basic decisions). I admit, it’s not a perfect set up – having other people watch Kareem can be more difficult because I don’t have a concrete schedule for them to follow but as long as they believe in our thought process or at least respect it, it’s usually fine.
I’m also a believer in positive discipline. Here’s a test. When you read the word discipline, what did you think of? In my case, I would probably have gone with “punishment”. The idea of discipline being synonymous with punishment is ingrained in our psyche. The first thing we think of when we hear the word “discipline” is usually something negative. I want to change that for my son!
Positive discipline is an idea that focuses on reverting things back to the roots – (the root being that the word discipline originates from the Latin word ‘disciplina’ which means teaching) when children do something wrong, instead of punishing them, parents teach and guide them to set the behavior right. For example instead of pointing out what the child did wrong, show the child how to set things right.
The core of positive discipline is the thought process that their are NO BAD KIDS, just bad behaviour… A part of positive parenting is also always giving your child the benefit the doubt and lots of empathy.
Here’s an example of positive parenting.. Let’s consider the best case situation first where you catch your child before she actually hits. However, instead of saying “Don’t hit” or “NO hitting” try saying “Use your words” or “Ask nicely”. When you say “Don’t hit” it does not give the child any information of what she/he should be doing instead. Without that knowledge, she/he may just end up going with her original plan to hit or she/he may choose to go with some other option which is equally bad – like shoving the other kid.
Co sleeeeeeping! I addressed this many many times but it always seems to pop up again! Yes, I’m a fan of co sleeping (although Kareem is transitioning into his own crib) I love co sleeping! I did a blog post all about the misconceptions of co sleeping but I partially loved this video by one of my favourite youtubbers (link below) where she dives into some facts and myths about co sleeping.