Progressive parenting isn’t permissive parenting. “Anything goes” tends to leave children feeling unsafe, without being able to predict how the one they trust most will behave. It isn’t extreme, overbearing or permissive. Progressive parenting simply blends what we know of a child’s cognition and personality with an ethic of compassion and respect for our children, ourselves, and the planet. Boundaries are an integral part of learning respect.
Boundaries. A better word for rules because nobody likes to follow rules (least of all me!!) Though some of us may even come to parenting after a history of punk or anarchist leanings (or just artistic independent tendencies), most of us will have learned that even we function better with some parameters for our work and relationships.
Most of us have learned that healthy boundaries serve us, even if we are not perfect yet at establishing our own or respecting other’s boundaries. Our children are watching us try. Those of us who have been parenting for a while or work with children have seen the peaceful difference some boundaries make.
The First Step is Looking at Yourself. The example you want for your children to follow is of course (in the vain of Progressive Parenting Secret #1: Modeling), is to practice making and setting good boundaries in your own life. Protecting your sanity, time and body from encroaching co-workers, partners, family members and even some of your children’s behaviors is one if the finest lessons you may ever teach by example. This includes not letting our children harm us (knowing how to compassionately curb hair pulling, biting etc), and making sure our relationship with our partner is respectful.
Does housework happen all day tirelessly or is there a time it ends and you focus on the children? What about turning off the cell phone? What about stopping what you are doing to show love to your partner who has just come home? (this is the one I’ve been working on!)
The Second Step is Listening and Watching when your child sets his or her own boundaries with you. This starts with reflecting back with “I hear you” language and narrating the scenario when your child says “No” to you and learning to keep our hands off of a child who does not want to be coerced or who has said NO (unless they or another is in danger and you must stop or move them). We must listen, slow down and spend less time belaboring our point and give more space in the challenging times.
The Third Step is Creating and Communicating family and personal boundaries to your children (and to the other caregivers in your life.) It’s funny that I have the actual discipline of boundaries all the way down at step 3, I know. I just feel that we must set the stage for respect before we begin to suddenly introduce new rules or suddenly start enforcing old ones. Once we are a good role model and a good listener, we can sit down and think about what bothers us, what sets us off and how to clearly and compassionately communicate what we will and will not allow our children to do to us, around us, to others and in our shared home.
Write it down. Write down what you want, what you would like to change. Parenting partners and caregivers should have a meeting to get on the same page including using same process and the same language to stop dangerous or harm behaviors. “Stop. I cannot let you hit me. Hitting hurts and is not okay in our family. You may touch me gently like this…” (I teach gentle, effective discipline techniques! Please contact me if you need help.)
The Fourth Step is Consistency. Consistency is Progressive Parenting Secret #4 and is coming to you soon! Hint: It’s the clear, communicative and near-constant implementation of your boundaries with your children, even when it feels inconvenient in the moment. It’s also the absolute most difficult challenge of the early years and the most quickly rewarding. See you back here soon!
Secret Number 1: http://mamalady.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/progressive-parenting-secret-1-extreme-modeling/
Secret Number 2: http://mamalady.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/progressive-parenting-secret-2-extreme-listening/
Love, Moorea www.savvyparentingsupport.com