Struggle Free Parenting? There is no Such Thing

Parenting without Punishment and Peaceful Parenting don’t mean struggle free parenting. You are the adult – act like it.

I participate in several online communities where I answer people’s questions about different topics. One of the groups I am in is a parenting without punishment group. Punishment is counterproductive and causes more harm than good – we need to stop punishing kids when they behave badly.

The thing is – I’ve noticed A LOT of parents seem to equate parenting without punishment and peaceful parenting with struggle free parenting. And when their 3 year old tantrums, they feel like failures!

How, they ask, can I help my kid comply with my quite reasonable adult demands without my kid fighting me or throwing a tantrum?  Good question. The answer is you can’t always get what you want.

Helping your child grow means helping them learn how to deal with difficulties and disappointment. If your child NEVER gets upset, something is wrong with them! If you don’t occasionally say no and trigger a meltdown – something is wrong with you.

Peaceful parenting and punishment free parenting is not the same as struggle free parenting. There is no such thing as struggle free parenting. So the first step to having a child who doesn’t throw tantrums at every little thing is to be the adult in the room. Which means, you need to have realistic expectations and not try to create a fantasy world where your child is perfect and happy every single moment of it’s life. That is not realistic.

What is realistic is having a kid who learns, over time, how to deal with their big emotions in a way that is not so destructive or harmful for those around them. To do this, you have to let your kid struggle.

Your kid really can handle a bit of struggle. They really can handle their big emotions if you let them. Trying to protect yourself from their big emotions is you trying to avoid reality. You need to be there for your kid, even when they are at their worst.

The goal of peaceful parenting or parenting without punishment is not for the kid to never struggle, it’s for the parent to remain peaceful while the child struggles so that they don’t resort to punishment in situations where the child needs help and love.

It’s about setting boundaries and being firm and making sure your child learns – they can’t always get what they want – and them being ok with that. Will that happen the first time they don’t get their way? NO!!!! Will it happen the next 8 times they don’t get their way? NO!!!! They are kids, they want what they want and they want it now. That’s to be expected.

You are the adult, your job – is to help them learn, over time, they can’t always get what they want and how to be ok with that. So let them practice by sometimes, not letting them get what they want. Withholding reward is not the same as punishment. One is done to harm the child and punish them, the other is done out of love to help them learn boundaries.

There is no magic way to suddenly have a peaceful happy child. You being peaceful is no guarantee that your child will be. That’s ok. The point is, you need to be peaceful and non-punitive in order to model that response to frustration for your child so that your child can learn this over time. Treat every instance of your child tantruming as an opportunity for you to learn & model how to be patient and calm when you, as the parent, don’t get your way and are frustrated. Only when you can do that, can you start teaching it to your child.

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