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Discipline; Figuring Out What’s Right For Your Family

Boys in Woods (Photo by Yvonne Condes)

This is a guest post by Expressing Motherhood Founder Lindsay Kavet

Boys in Woods (Photo by Yvonne Condes)

I think if I were to describe the way I’m currently disciplining my kids in one word it would be the “Sybil” method.

Basically some moments I am able to realize that my child just needs some protein and a hug when they are crying or whining. So I give them just that.

Other moments I turn and look at them the way I look at no one else, certainly not strangers and say either, “I am really disappointed in my children right now.” OR perhaps I’ll scream, “That’s it, screw this, no more.” Perhaps even worse then that.

Immediately I follow that up with a curse word, deep breathing and apologies.

I have three kids under the age of 7. I was brought up in a house where there was fear and some yelling. Totally standard 70’s stuff. My husband and I are trying to raise our kids differently. My husband doesn’t yell at the kids. I’m utterly shocked and thankful for that.

I do yell.

Lately though I’m doing it far less. I signed my husband and I up for a 6-week class at our house. It was through a place in Los Angeles called Echo Center for Non-Violent Education and Parenting. Here is their mission from their website:

The mission of Echo Parenting & Education is to support and facilitate child raising rooted in connection and empathy. We teach parents, teachers and others who strongly influence children’s lives an approach that integrates current research in human development with the practice of nonviolence.

Now you might be thinking, “but I’m not violent.” Well neither am I but they count yelling and words as violent too. Yeah.

Our teacher had a lot to teach us and what has stuck with me most is the concept of teaching our children like people and realizing that if they are crying or whining it’s probably for a reason just like we cry or whine for our own reasons. Not really earth-shattering news BUT to treat a kid like this is far different then the way most of us were brought up.

How about when you fall down as an adult do people immediately say, “You are fine?” More likely they might say, “I saw you fall, are you OK?”

If you come to work looking sad do people say to you, “Stop making that face, stop pouting.” Instead they might say, “I see you are looking sad do you want to talk about it?”

These are examples and I’m not here representing Echo I’m just trying to give a frame of mind for the place. I’ve been trying it more and more with my kids and feeling pretty good about things.

And then my mother came to visit.

We city parents get a lot of flack from our in-laws and family who live in other places. We are accused of being overprotective, too loose and worrying too much. OK so maybe we are a little bit, but I’m curious about parenting and open to new ways of raising people.

One morning my oldest didn’t have summer camp, my 3 year-old was tired and of course wanted to be with his grandma. I knew I should have just let him stay home but my mom said “Come on, who is in charge here? We are going to school.”

We all got in my minivan and drove to his 3-hour summer camp. Tears were streaming down his face and we could barely get him out of the car. It was very hot at the early hour of 9AM and I felt trapped. Trapped between pressure to not be a pushover liberal LA mom in front of my mom and yet wanting to do what was best for my family, in the way we did it.

I stared off into space for a second wishing I was someplace else and then I cursed in my head and reminded myself I was the bleepity bleep mother and said, “You really want to be with your grandma today don’t you?”

Yes, he burst out and began to become calmer.

“OK, let’s all have a special family day.” The weight lifted and we went home and had a nice day. I took into account what he was going through and made the call.

I’m trying to be new school but sometimes I go old school. I doubt myself and worry that my inconsistent disciplining is worse than the straight out, “you are getting the belt” style of parenting.

Who knows?

Hopefully I can just transition over into a norm for our family.

Lindsay Kavet is an LA mom to three kids. She also directs/produces the play “Expressing Motherhood.


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  1. Lauren 21 August, 2013 at 13:29 Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your honesty. I am currently feeling pressure about my new age discipline style. Your words helped me to remember why my husband and I chose non-punitive discipline in the first place.
    Also, I frequently curse in my head. It’s nice to know Im not the only one 🙂

    • Expressing Motherhood 22 August, 2013 at 19:12 Reply

      Thank you Lauren. Ironically we have our last class tonight and my husband and I are yelling at them to go to bed. Anyways, thanks for your words and it is nice to have support from other people trying to discipline in different ways.

  2. Hilary 21 August, 2013 at 15:21 Reply

    such an honest accounting of the difficulty in disciplining effectively. I loved the idea of the non violent speech and believe that words can be just as disruptive and hurtful as a belt or a blow (Maya Angelou speaks so beautifully on the physical nature of words). D.W. Winnicott (a wonderful, psychoanalytic child psychologist) stated that you don’t have to be the perfect parent just “good enough” along with this idea and the compassion that is necessary to show yourself as well as your child in parenting, I allow myself those moments of failure and try not to dwell too much when I do make a mistake. I believe also apologizing and admitting your mistakes to your children models how to cope with failure or mistakes. Thanks again for such a lovely post.

  3. Expressing Motherhood 22 August, 2013 at 19:15 Reply

    Thank you Hilary such a great reminder from you to admit my mistakes to my kids. Thanks for sharing your beautiful words here. I like that phrase “physical nature of words.” Anyways, I appreciate the comment.

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