Positive Parenting in Public

August 30, 2011 at 6:08 am (Attachment Parenting, Positive Discipline)

It’s not too often that I witness positive parenting in action.  But the other day in the kids’ locker room at our health club, I saw a mom respond calmly and respectfully to her daughter’s tears.

She provided validation for the toddler’s sadness when she could have simply told her to quiet down.

She showed love when she could have communicated, “Stop that right now.”

She exhibited connection over control, and in just one minute of a shared, empathic moment together, the tears resolved into laughter.

Ah, yes please…more of that in the world!

This incident was so unusual because it happened in the locker room; I typically don’t see very positive interactions between moms and their kids in the locker room.  Maybe it’s because getting young children ready to swim or showered and dressed to go home is harrowing; it brings out the stressed-mommy responses to unfocused, unhelpful behavior.  Sit still!  Come back here right now!  Hurry up and get dressed, or no ice cream!  Stop it!

Maybe.  I have certainly been in angry-mom-mode, and one of my parenting moments of which I am least proud occurred in that locker room.  But most likely, I think most people just don’t parent with positive discipline.  When witnessing examples of public parenting, I see far more threats and punishments than respectful, connected discipline.

This mom pulled her crying child in to her and sat with her arms around her. She hugged her and told her, “It’s OK to be sad. We all get sad. You wanted to put your pants on by yourself and I already did it.” She said, “Here, maybe you can do your shirt yourself. I forgot how it goes…like this?” And she put the sleeve over her daughter’s head. Which made the little girl giggle because mom was totally wrong!

I was touched.  I completely expected a brushing-off, “Stop that!” response which I see so often.  And it took literally seconds for this mom to empathize, connect, and turn the situation fun.

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t treat her kids with a punitive, controlling parenting style.  I know I’m not, but it’s nice to see I’m not!  I am filled with hope and encouragement to be able to witness someone else’s successful positive discipline moment.

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