Guiding Children’s Behaviour

Chapter 3, Section 2:

Guiding Children’s Behaviour

A Natural Parent

One question you were asked last day was to describe a “natural parent”, ie: someone who just seems to naturally know how to be a good parent. The interesting thing about this question in your (older) textbook vs what you’ll find when you look on-line is that a “natural parent” in the google-verse (as opposed to universe) is a parent who leans towards feeding natural foods, choosing “natural” toys (ie: playing outside with leaves/dirt/gardens, playing with wooden toys inside), selecting natural fibres for clothing. There’s quite the difference between the two definitions… we’re not even comparing apples to apples; it’s more like apples to chocolate.

The fact is, there is no such thing as a perfect parent, and so someone can argue that there is no such thing as a “natural parent” as implied by your textbook The Developing Child. All parents are influenced by their own experiences. Perhaps they were parented in a way that they’d like to replicate with their own children. Maybe they disagree with many of the choices their parents made and want to do differently.

There may have been a relative, other than their mom/dad, who is the greatest influence on their parenting. Perhaps they read a lot, asking a lot of questions, have worked with other people’s children and these experiences are what influence their parenting. Regardless, the pressure to be a good parent is strong, and we should realize that we’re all influenced by different factors. There is no one right way to parent, and we’ll all make some mistakes. As a well-known parenting program knows, and has named itself, “Nobody’s Perfect”. And that’s okay too.

Discipline vs Punishment

Discipline is what occurs before the behaviour. Discipline is all about teaching expectations, how-tos, the steps, and follow through. Discipline is a teaching and learning process. It should be positive, and respectful of the child. The goal of discipline is to help the child learn what is expected (and those expectations should be age appropriate and reasonable) with the goal of avoiding punishment.

Punishment is what occurs after the behaviour. Punishment can be very negative, or (theoretically) it can be considerate. You can find articles on how “bad” punishment is, just as you can find articles on how “effective” punishment is. Regardless of one’s point of view, punishment should not be abusive.

These three photos illustrate how different people’s definition of “punishment” can be. Some people will disagree that they are all ‘punishment’, others will completely agree.

What do you think?


(Image 1:

punishment 2

(Image 2:

punishment 3

Image 3:

Please keep in mind that there is a lot of debate about what exactly punishment is and parents greatly differ on its definition (some parents may read the definition above and scream “NO! NO! NO! What is she saying?!”).

We could spend an entire term on discipline vs punishment, but we just don’t have the time, so we’re going to avoid that debate and stick with the most simple: punishment is what occurs after the behaviour. Our goal is to discipline (teach) instead of punish.

Assignment: The Developing Child, Chapter 3-2

Check Your Understanding # 1 – 7

Discuss & Discover: select one of the two.


What is Parenting?

Chapter 3, Section 1: What is Parenting?

Parenting is a Learning Process

Children don’t come with a manual, and in spite of all the child development experts (and “experts”), all the advice that you will get from friends and family (whether you want it or not) and everything you see on tv, movies, etc., you will stumble through some aspects of parenting. It’s a process of growth and development not just for the children, but for the parents.

The other day my son was watching me hold a 4 week old baby. He made a cute comment: “Mom, you’re really good with babies. You must have learnt everything you know from me.” Very cute, no? Yes, but also very much correct. Being his mom has taught me a lot about caring for an infant, and a toddler, and a preschooler.

My son is just about to enter the stage known as “middle childhood” and I’ve got to tell you, I know very little about parenting a 7 year old, 8 year old, 9 year old or older child. But I’ll learn, and I’ll learn from parenting my son. And at the end of it, I will know how to parent a child like my son and have a bit of insight into how to parent other children, but we need to remember that all children are different.

Understanding Children

One way that we can improve our learning curve is to reflect upon what it was like to be a child. Remind yourself of your childhood years. What did you like? What did you not like? Think of how different people communicated and interacted with you. Who did you like? Who did you feel most comfortable around? Think about why this is so.

A small piece of advice, come down to the level of a child. Generally speaking, they are not as physically tall as you are. They don’t yet have an adult vocabulary. As the adult hovering over a young child, using big words, you are a pretty intimidating person. As the adult physically coming down to their level and verbally coming down to what they can understand and how they communicate, you are much more approachable.

While the goal is not to be your child’s best friend, you do need to be able to relate and communicate with your child. If you are working with children, again, you need to instill confidence, and this cannot be done if you remain physically and communicatively above them.

Assignment: The Developing Child, p. 66

Check Your Understanding # 1 – 7

Discuss & Discover # 1