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Gentle Parenting – No Rewards, No Punishments

Gentle parenting means no punishments and no rewards: just a partnership with your kids where they want to do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. Shutterstock

Came across this piece that defines Positive Parenting. Parents who practise positive discipline or gentle parenting use neither rewards nor punishments to encourage their children to behave.

By “no rewards” I mean they don’t use charts or “bribes” such as lollies or toys. Many don’t even say “good girl/boy” or “good job”.

And by “no punishments” I mean they don’t use time-outs, smacking, shaming or yelling. Forget the naughty step, forget the sticker chart, let’s take a journey into the world of gentle or positive discipline, which aims to teach children empathy, self-control and calmness.

What is discipline?

Discipline has come to mean many things in our culture. When we are discussing child rearing, we understand it to mean reprimanding a child for “bad behaviour”. The word discipline comes from the word disciple and means to teach.

The discipline advocated by gentle parenting families is internalised. They argue that to offer rewards and punishments overrides a child’s natural inclination to try. It teaches them to behave in certain ways for a reward, or to avoid punishment.

Advocates of gentle parenting say that rewards and punishments do not encourage children to internalise good behaviour for its own sake.

What might this type of approach look like?

There are many websites and groups that can help you to practise this parenting approach. Here are a few steps that parents take to encourage a partnership with their children:

  1. They start from a place of connection and believe that all behaviour stems from how connected the child is with their caregivers.
  2. They give choices not commands (“would you like to brush your teeth before or after you put on your pyjamas?”).
  3. They take a playful approach. They might use playfulness to clean up (“let’s make a game of packing up these toys”) or to diffuse tension (having a playful pillow fight).
  4. They allow feelings to run their course. Rather than saying “shoosh”, or yelling “stop!”, parents actively listen to crying. They may say, “you have a lot of/strong feelings about [situation]”.
  5. They describe the behaviour, not the child. So, rather than labelling a child as naughty or nice, they will explain the way actions make them feel. For example, “I get so frustrated cleaning crumbs off the couch.”
  6. They negotiate limits where possible. If it’s time to leave the park, they might ask, “How many more minutes/swings before we leave?” However, they can be flexible and reserve “no” for situations that can hurt the child (such as running on the road or touching the hot plate) or others (including pets). They might say: “Hitting me/your sister/pulling the dog’s tail hurts, I won’t let you do that.”
  7. They treat their children as partners in the family. A partnership means that the child is invited to help make decisions and to be included in the household tasks. Parents apologise when they get it wrong.
  8. They will not do forced affection. When Uncle Ray wants to hug your child and s/he says no, then the child gets to say what happens to their body. They also don’t force please or thank you.
  9. They trust their children. What you might think of as “bad” behaviour is seen as the sign of an unmet need.
  10. They take parental time-outs when needed. Before they crack, they step away, take a breath and regain their composure.
The most important aspect of positive discipline is the connection you have with your child. Shutterstock

What are the benefits?

There are many sites that claim benefits to this approach. For example, Attachment Parenting International argues that the child is more sensitive to others’ needs because they have learnt to expect that their needs will be met, they will be treated with respect and they are equal partners in the family.

Others argue that it may take more effort, but is more effective, because punishment and rewards are only short-term solutions. As Alfie Kohnargues, using rewards and punishments is about doing things to, not withchildren. Taking a gentle parenting or positive discipline approach invites children to partner with their parents to learn how to live in the community as productive members.

What are the problems?

The problems people may see with this style of parenting generally stem from a problem of definition. Gentle parenting is not permissive parenting. Permissive parenting means never saying no, not provoking tantrums or crying and always wanting to please the child. This style of parenting is the antithesis of gentle parenting.

Sometimes parents who practise gentle parenting are described as sanctimommies. The term is meant to imply they are sanctimonious. However, the issue is generally with that individual parent, not their parenting style.

Gentle parenting also requires parental self-control, because you have to take a step back, think and ask, “What is my child’s behaviour communicating in this moment?” and, “What can I do differently to prevent this behaviour next time?”

Watching TV just 15 minutes a day can kill creativity in kids

This recent article in Times Of India  strengthen’s my strong anti-screen agenda!

Children who spend just 15 minutes or more a day watching their favourite cartoons on television may be at an increased risk of losing their creative minds as compared to those who read books or solve jigsaw puzzles, a study says.

“There was clear evidence that children came up with less original ideas immediately after watching television,”said Sarah Rose, Lecturer at Staffordshire University in Britain,” although adding “these effects disappeared after a short time.”

However, “if children are less creative in their play, this could, over time, negatively impact their development,” Rose said.

There is a belief that slow-paced programmes are more educational but our findings do not support this, Sarah said.

In the study, the team looked at the immediate impact of television on three-year-old’s creativity. They compared children who watched — Postman Pat, with those who read books or played jigsaw puzzles. The children were tested for throwing up maximum original creative ideas.

 The study is potentially useful to those who produce children’s television shows, early year educators, as well as parents.

The findings were presented at the British Psychological Developmental Conference in Belfast, recently.

 

Why Steve Jobs wouldn’t let his children touch an iPad and other digital gadget

When Steve Jobs was running Apple, he was known to call journalists to either pat them on the back for a recent article or, more often than not, explain how they got it wrong. I was on the receiving end of a few of those calls. But nothing shocked me more than something Jobs said to me in late 2010 after he had finished chewing me out for something I had written about an iPad shortcoming.

“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves.

“They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

I’m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’ household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow.

Nope, Jobs told me, not even close.

Since then, I’ve met a number of technology chief executives and venture capitalists who say similar things: They strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning all gadgets on school nights and allocating ascetic time limits on weekends.

I was perplexed by this parenting style. After all, most parents seem to take the opposite approach, letting their children bathe in the glow of tablets, smart-phones and computers, day and night.

Yet these tech CEOs seem to know something the rest of us don’t.

Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired and now chief executive of 3D Robotics, a drone-maker, has instituted time limits and parental controls on every device in his home.

“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” he said of his five children, 6-17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

The dangers he is referring to include exposure to harmful content like pornography, bullying from other kids, and perhaps worse of all, becoming addicted to their devices, just like their parents.

Alex Constantinople, the chief executive of the OutCast Agency, a tech-focused communications and marketing firm, said her youngest son, who is 5, is never allowed to use gadgets during the week, and her older children, 10-13, are allowed only 30 minutes a day on school nights.

Evan Williams, a founder of Blogger, Twitter and Medium, and his wife, Sara Williams, said that in lieu of iPads, their two young boys have hundreds of books (yes, physical ones) that they can pick up and read anytime.

So how do tech moms and dads determine the proper boundary for their children? In general, it is set by age.

Children under 10 seem to be most susceptible to becoming addicted, so these parents draw the line at not allowing any gadgets during the week. On weekends, there are limits of 30 minutes to two hours on iPad and smartphone use. And 10- to 14-year-olds are allowed to use computers on school nights, but only for homework.

“We have a strict no-screen-time-during-the-week rule for our kids,” said Lesley Gold, founder and chief executive of the SutherlandGold Group, a tech media relations and analytics company. “But you have to make allowances as they get older and need a computer for school.”

Some parents also forbid teenagers to use social networks, except for services like Snapchat, which deletes messages after they have been sent. This way they don’t have to worry about saying something online that will haunt them later in life, one executive told me.

Although some non-tech parents I know give smart-phones to children as young as 8, many who work in tech wait until their child is 14. While these teenagers can make calls and text, they are not given a data plan until 16. But there is one rule that is universal among the tech parents I polled.

“This is rule No. 1: There are no screens in the bedroom. Period. Ever,” Anderson said.

While some tech parents assign limits based on time, others are much stricter about what their children are allowed to do with screens.

Ali Partovi, a founder of iLike and adviser to Facebook, Dropbox and Zappos, said there should be a strong distinction between time spent “consuming,” like watching YouTube or playing video games, and time spent “creating” on screens.

I think it’s absurd to limit her time spent creating computer art, editing video, or computer programming

“Just as I wouldn’t dream of limiting how much time a kid can spend with her paintbrushes, or playing her piano, or writing, I think it’s absurd to limit her time spent creating computer art, editing video, or computer programming,” he said.

Others said that outright bans could backfire and create a digital monster.

Dick Costolo, chief executive of Twitter, told me he and his wife approved of unlimited gadget use as long as their two teenage children were in the living room. They believe that too many time limits could have adverse effects on their children.

“When I was at the University of Michigan, there was this guy who lived in the dorm next to me, and he had cases and cases of Coca-Cola and other sodas in his room,” Costolo said. “I later found out that it was because his parents had never let him have soda when he was growing up. If you don’t let your kids have some exposure to this stuff, what problems does it cause later?”

I never asked Jobs what his children did instead of using the gadgets he built, so I reached out to Walter Isaacson, the author of “Steve Jobs,” who spent a lot of time at their home.

“Every evening, Steve made a point of having dinner at the big, long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” he said. “No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”

Inside the Primary Classroom – August 2014

We started our month with the celebration of the brother and sister bond – “Raksha bandhan”. Our children made rakhis with great love to take home and dressed up for the festival. We made chocolate coconut ladoos which the children relished. Our little guests (Ariha’s brother) and (Taran’s sister) came in to tie rakhis to their siblings and celebrate with us.

For celebrating the 67th year of Indian freedom our children were dressed as freedom fighters. The grand ceremony began with the unfurling of the Indian Flag. Children helped break the flowers to get the petals ready for it. As we stood up tall saluting the flag, we sang the national anthem followed by patriotic songs.

The tri-colour was seen not only on the flags but also in the ‘tiranga sandwich’ that was made with enthusiasm. Children had great fun making the flower rangoli in the shape of our flag.

Makhan mishri khaay mere madan gopal. Yes, it’s time to celebrate our favourite “Lord Krishna’s” birthday. An amazing experience to do the aarti and swing the jhula of kanahiya laal, sing his songs and then break the “Matki” full of sweetness.

Udita’s mother – Deepali came in to share some stories and pictures of the 24th tirthankar of the Jains – Lord Mahavir on the occasion of Mahavir Jayanti. His life story since the time he was conceived by Mata Trishla, her 14 dreams, his good deads and preachings were shared with the children.

Roxanne aunty came in her traditional parsi clothes and Hana dressed up in traditional festive parsi dress. Roxanne aunty talked to us all about Pateti, Navroz and how these festivals are celebrated.

The most awaited day of the month was to get Ganpati at our Da Vinci Montessori. To give him warm welcome children decorated the classroom with torans, rangolis and flowers. Colourful streamers, flowers, table cloth, toran, puja thali, rangoli, prasad, all were arranged just perfectly for the occassion. Children were excited to join the procession of getting Ganpati into the classroom doing the sthapna and the Aarti.

A festive month with a mix of traditions, patriotism, love, joy and respect.

Inside the Pre-primary classroom – July 2014

With the FIFA world cup on in Brazil all through June and July it seemed appropriate to cash in on the fever. It worked well to choose Brazil as our theme for the month.

The children got caught up in the frenzy of the semi finals and finals and for some reason Argentina and Brazil proved to be favorites. Maybe it was something to do with Messi and Neymar or perhaps the colour of their jerseys. Brazil not making it to the finals saddened some of them momentarily and then in an instant all allegiance shifted to Germany.

The hot favourites in the art area were definitely the colouring of the Brazilian flag and the Brazilian map that had to be reprinted by us numerous times. Some of the other art that was laid out in the culture area: Little T shirt cut outs for the children to colour their favourite team jersey, footballs made from paper plates, animals of the Amazon rain forest were glued either on the emergent layer of the forest, the canopy, or the forest floor according to where they dwell.

The month started with our first guest Mahajabeen Kazi, Enayah’s mother who spoke about Ramadan and laid out a traditional Iftaar spread for the children to experience. Earlier in the week some of the children de-seeded some dates and served them at the table.

Sana’s brother Ahaan is one of the few young guests that we have had. He held forth on football, it’s rules, some tactics, the FIFA tournament and especially his role as a goalie in his team.  He quizzed the children on aspects of the game, some of which they answered, “who won the world cup?” and some “in how many years will the world cup be held again?” he did for them.

The event everyone looked forward to this month was the Rio Carnival at Da Vinci Montessori.  The children had seen pictures and videos of the carnival and had also practiced a few days in advance. Little children from the toddler section served as the audience as the pre-primary children held a mock Carnival procession. As Samba music played in the background three groups of children made their way around the classroom moving to the music. A ‘ride on toy’ at the head of each group made up for the absence of the floats. They came dressed as pirates, princesses, faces painted, accessorized with ribbons, feathers, streamers and colourful pipe cleaners.  It ended with everyone dancing to the 2014 world cup song ‘Show the world we are one’.  All done everyone changed into their work clothes and it was back to work at school.

Post the carnival the children had a treat in store that afternoon. Urvashi’s friend Pooja who visited Brazil this year surprised them by stomping into the class wearing a feathery carnival mask. She shared her experiences at the carnival with them and brought with her some souvenirs, which included the current FIFA football.

To sum up how much they loved the Brazil experience one of the children said, “I really really want to go to Brazil” and another had Urvashi write out the recipe of the Salpicao salad so that her parents could make it at home.

Inside the Pre primary classroom – February

This February we learnt all about Sweden with our children. At our outdoor trip at Tulips Bakery children saw how breads and cakes are made. The visit to the Fire station was very exciting too. Da Vinci children got to climb on and pose with the Fire engines and we saw a demonstration of how the Firemen put out a fire.

Guests

Gustavo’s dad came with a box full of exciting things from Sweden to show the children. He talked to us about all things Swedish – the football team, Swedish stories, the Nobel prize and Swedish customs. He brought us a ginger bread house and a booklet with lots of pictures from Sweden. He brought a chair in from Ikea – a famous Swedish furniture store and showed the children how to dismantle it. He also showed the children some Swedish currency. In the end we all stood for Sweden’s national anthem. Gustavo was really thrilled to have his dad come in and show some of his photos.

Shaurya’s mother, came in to show some Ikea’s products, all of which had very innovative designs. The children were surprised to see an Ikea torch that needed neither batteries nor electricity. The torch just had a handle that needed to be wound. Shradha also brought in a grater, a beater, foldable boxes etc. all with unique designs.

Santa Lucia’s Parade

According to Swedish tradition St. Lucia’s day is celebrated on December 13th; at Da Vinci Montessori we had the opportunity to enact the celebrations on March 7th.  All through February the children had waited in anticipation for this day as they had already seen slide shows, videos, heard songs and learnt about the significance of this day. The children came dressed in white and had red sashes tied around their waists. The procession began with Tara the eldest girl christened as St. Lucia wearing the crown of candles followed by her handmaidens wearing crowns with candles in their hand and at the end the star boys walked along with star wands to hold. All was calm and serene as they walked in a slow procession on the path laid out by Aunty Urvashi with the St. Lucia hymn wafting through the class.

That morning with a little deliberation amongst the adults it was decided to put away the easel and with much relief the children went back home as pristine as they came in.

Fika and Swedish food

On a bright Wednesday morning the children met up for ‘Fika’ in the outdoor area. Tables and chairs were laid out cafe style in the shaded area. On the menu was chocolate milk and cinnamon buns for the children and coffee for the adults. Cinnamon buns were hard to find in our bakeries so we improvised by having the children dust powdered sugar and cinnamon onto their buns, which they did with great gusto. Some other Swedish food they prepared in class was a ‘Smorgas’. They put together some open sandwiches with cheese spread, red-yellow capsicums and tomatoes.

Science

Other aspects of Swedish culture that were discussed included the importance recycling. The children experienced recycling by decorating paper bags that were to be gifted to their parents to reuse. Also we now have two bins in class to segregate the dry waste from the wet.

The phenomenon of Northern lights was explained with videos from NASA. They watched with rapt attention as they saw an animated video of particles from the sun travel to earth and converge at the poles.  The younger ones took delight in identifying the colours of the Northern lights. At the end of it, they all chorused ‘these are not fireworks these are the northern lights’.

The presence of coniferous trees in Sweden and the significance of their shape was discussed often. Each time Gustavo took great pride in telling us that back in Sweden during Christmas they bring home a real tree to decorate.

Formation of a lake was demonstrated to children by creating a model for an icy mountain and a lake. The mountain was topped with crushed ice and children watched with much excitement as the ice slowly melted, trickled down the mountain as streams and then formed a lake.

Art

A variety of art was laid of for children this month.

Children made their own lakes from Sweden with some craft work and painting. They used cut outs to make beautiful castles and stuck a flag on the castles too. Children enjoyed decorating paper bags helping them better understand the idea of recycling. Our class was full of many Swedish flags. Other pictures from Sweden such as castles, animals, lakes, etc. were laid out for colouring.

We took the children on the tour of Sweden by showing them all the famous landmarks, customs and traditions of Sweden through attractive pictures, fascinating facts and amazing videos.

Landmarks

We showed them pictures of the first ice hotel, the Lund Cathedral where there is the unique astronomical clock, how Vasa museum came into being and The Royal Palace in Stockholm where the king and queen of Sweden reside.

Flora and fauna

We spoke how Sweden is famous for its pristine nature and vast lakes. Apart from our lake formation experiment, we talked to the children about the lynx, salmon, wolverine, brown bear, beaver, elk, coniferous trees and lingonberry.

Children learnt a bunch of Swedish phrases and listened to the national anthem of Sweden. Children were very curious to if Gustavo has been to Sweden or if he has a house there.

March has been a busy month and we will write to you about it soon!

Inside the Pre primary classroom – January

Bonjour and welcome to all things French!

From the French flag and French cheeses to the Eiffel Tower, it was an exciting month of learning all about France. We brought in France through books, art, pictures, video clips, science experiments, music and many chat sessions with our children.

Children listened attentively when we spoke about the iconic structure of France – The Eiffel Tower. Children asked questions like – How tall it is? Is someone living there? Is it taller than the building they live in? We also talked about the famous cathedral of Notre Dame, the world’s largest museum Louvre, Arc De Triomphe, Monte St. Michelle and the Versaille palace.

Ashani also brought in her personal touch by showing photos of a French wedding she attended with her family at a chateau in France. Tina shared pictures of her trip with stories of her French experiences.

The children were delighted to learn about the exciting Tour de France through pictures. They were interested to know that the participants cycled extensively through the cities and mountains of France and also some neighboring countries and how it culminated at the Champs Elysees at Paris. The cycling gear worn by the cyclists was also observed and discussed by them. It inspired Shaurya to dress up as one of them on the France dress up day wearing cycling shorts and helmet.

While seeing snapshots of the FIFA playoff matches, they were enthused to see spectators dressed in blue jerseys identical to the players waving a sea of French flags. Quite like how Ahaan was dressed with a French flag pinned to her chest. They got familiar with a couple of French footballers :  Benzema and Franck Ribery.

Showcasing France provided an opportunity to introduce some professions that are mostly unique to France. They got familiar with the workday of a cheese maker, a wine maker, a vineyard farmhand and a Boulanger. They were shown videos on cheese making, grape farming and the traditional and modern methods of wine making. Children saw the insides of French cheese making factories and learnt about the different types of French cheeses from Brie, Emmantel and Babybel – that school children often carry along for a snack.

Children made cheese in class from milk and also experienced crushing grapes to create grape juice. We brought in a wine bottle into class and different kinds of wine glasses for the children to see.

Children participated enthusiastically in our food preparation sessions. French food like baguettes, croissants, crudités were welcomed by the children. On the ‘French dressup day’ we set up a French café by laying tables and chairs out on the terrace under an awning for snack time.

It was great to see children’s spontaneous interest in the art and craft activities related to France that were laid out this month. Painting Eiffel Towers in gold, was one of the most popular art activities. French flags were made everyday and put up proudly on our boards. When we learnt about French cheeses, our children did ‘magic painting’ to recreate blocks of cheese. The replica of a vineyard was set up in the classroom; children made bunches of grapes with green and purple crepe paper and stuck them to the vines. Children enjoyed colouring pictures of different French breads and cheeses, French painters and artists as well as French monuments.

We had two guests this month. Meera – a fluent French speaker, read one our the children’s favourite books in French. She also sang a few French songs with the children and taught them some French phrases.

Our month’s learning about France culminated with dress up day where children picked a variety of professions to dress up in. We had French ballerinas, chic French ladies, handsome French men, Boulangers, soccer players, a cyclist, tennis players and a French flag too. Quite a few children dressed up as artists perhaps inspired by pictures of Claude Monet’s landscapes that children saw in class.

It was an action packed month as children participated enthusiastically on Sports Day. The heats and practice session on the terrace were as much fun. Our guest – Lavanya, gave a beautiful demonstration of Carnatic Classical Music that children listened to with rapt attention. Vicky sir carried on his regular gym session including one at Todi garden with his usual energetic style. Wendy aunty’s music time and singing with Roxanne aunty was as always enjoyed by the children.

So lets say ‘au revoir’ to another busy month at school. Do check in next month to get a peek inside our classroom.