Almost everything in life comes with a how-to manual. Everything except raising a child.. . arguably the most important and high-stakes job ever! The Peaceful Parenting approach to raising children is probably the closest thing you will ever find to a manual for how to raise children who are self-disciplined, confident, and emotionally intelligent. Kids who can navigate and thrive in the world with competence. Kids who have the resilience to cope with setbacks and disappointments. Kids who understand their own emotions, and thus are better able to understand and relate to others. Sounds pretty great huh? It is and it’s absolutely possible to raise such kids!
Dr. Laura Markham’s Peaceful Parenting approach is based on three important ideas: (1) parents must take responsibility for and regulate their own emotions; (2) the relationship and connection we have with our child is incredibly important and the reason children do what we want them to do; and (3) we are parents work to emotion coach our child instead of controlling or punishing our child.
This approach is not permissive and it’s not letting children do whatever they want, as children certainly need limits and parents’ guidance. However, peaceful parenting is a shift from a conventional parenting. Conventional parenting believes that the way to stop or change children’s bad behaviors is to either ignore it or respond with punishment, threats or bribes. In contrast, peaceful parenting believes that children behave in ways that are frustrating, challenging and undesirable not because they are “bad” but rather for different reasons. First, children’s brains are not fully developed and impulse control is still limited and second, children are overwhelmed by their big emotions and thus “act out” feelings they cannot manage. So what that means is that if we want to stop the behaviors that frustrate us (ie: kicking, biting, throwing things, hurting siblings, etc), we need to go the root of the behavior and that means helping our children with their big feelings. When parents can help kids manage their emotions, kids can better manage their behaviors.
Transitioning to peaceful parenting does take effort and commitment and it’s an investment in yourself, your child and your family. But, you will find that having a child who is more cooperative, more skilled at managing her emotions, and more connected to you makes all the work completely worth it!