Into the World of Respectful Parenting (Intro)
Background: This is part 2 of a series, for part 1, refer to “I was parenting the wrong way“. If you want to raise an emotionally healthy child but find yourself needing some wisdom, you’re not alone. I’m glad to publish a series of HY’s journey of learning how to raise such a child. Hope you discover new parenting methods, points and comfort through her words and experience. Being a bookworm, she would also be sharing her list of parenting books that she’s digging into.
Other than dealing with two children at home, HY has many years of experience working with the youth. She is currently a social worker. Loving the heartlands and outdoors, she is always seen bringing her infant and 6 year-old out to explore Singapore.
I enjoy going for courses to deepen my learning about respectful parenting. A Facebook group that advocates such parenting is “Respectful/Mindful Parenting Singapore“, and they run courses for parents and helpers under Chapter Zero. Although I read many books to understand the essence of respectful parenting, going for courses deepens my level of understanding on specific topics. I also appreciate those aha moments/revelations during the courses.
For example, through the previous course, I finally understood how triggers work and what is authenticity in respectful parenting (“RP”). Many people think false acceptance is RP. But in fact, as parents we are free to NOT accept our children’s behaviour. It’s just that we have to make it known to them in a respectful manner instead of pretending we are okay with certain behaviour when we are not. That would have been permissive parenting.
Moreover, it is alright for the dad and mum to NOT have a united front. After all, we are humans with differing views. What’s okay for me might not be okay for the spouse. We don’t have to pretend that we have the same level of acceptance or non-acceptance towards a certain behaviour. It is more of how we communicate this to the child that is more important.
I wouldn’t have figure out all these just from the books. Hence, it’s so liberating to finally understand all these concepts during the course. I can be myself and I can be real!
Respectful parenting is not about being narcissistic like, “Wow, you are the best,” “you are awesome”. Neither is it wimpy or permissive “Please can you don’t jump on the bed,” requested in a pleading manner. These does nothing to help the kids. 😅
About My Parenting
Come to think of it, actually the most suitable parent for kor kor is me at work. The non-judgmental me. The one ever displaying unconditional positive regards. I don’t lack parenting skills, I just need to apply them.
Malcolm Gladwell said it takes 10,000 hours to be good at anything. So I guess, I’ll require 10000hrs to practise respectful parenting in order to be skillful in it. Haha. But the good thing is we have lots of time with our kids to practise it often? 😉
I have a vague idea what’s “respectful parenting” for the past 5years but it is only now that I truly understand the concepts, key principles and philosophy behind it. Am really thankful that I can take this period of time to read and reflect on something (ie parenting) that means so much to me.
1. Elevating Child Care
“Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting” by Janet Lansbury is a very good read about respectful parenting. You can borrow from the library, if not, you can still read articles on her website. She is an educarer for infants and toddlers for decades. Hence, all her sharing is from her own experience of respectfully interacting with babies and kids and the positive results she sees.
The book is simple to understand and practical, unlike other respectful parenting books written by clinical psychologists and psychotherapists. Those books always talk about traumatic childhood or stuff that cause you to be introspective.
2. Choice Theory
It was quite timely that I was re-reading this book, “Choice Theory : A New Psychology of Personal Freedom” by William Glasser. I had forgotten and stopped practising all the stuff taught in the book. It’s a good old reminder on how bad external control psychology is and how it’s more importantly to intentionally live out choice theory.
Choice Theory® is based on the simple premise that every individual only has the power to control themselves and has limited power to control others.
Applying Choice Theory allows one to take responsibility for one’s own life and at the same time, withdraw from attempting to direct other people’s decisions and lives.Glasser Institute
Picked up the book again to read as I recalled that human misery happens when we try to control others or when others try to control us. This is usually more evident in spousal and parent-child relationships. But parent-child is a little more intricate or complex because all parents control their kids to a certain extent, claiming that it is for their own good.
The book made me realised that to have a satisfying relationship with kor kor/PPK, I just need to let go of the power struggles and tensions I have with him on various issues. 😊
3. Parent Effectiveness Training
“Parent Effectiveness Training (PET)” by Thomas Gordon is a gem. He is an award-winning psychologist and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Chapter Zero also runs a training program based on Parent Effectiveness Training. It is proven to raise compassionate and responsible children.
I wonder why his book is not as popular as or if not more popular than “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. It’s so obvious the latter copied the idea from the former! The book first came out in 1970s before the other in 1980s.
It’s seriously wow if parents 50 years ago were reading such books and applying the techniques that were pretty advanced. Who says respectful parenting is a new trend? 50 years ago, there were already psychologists and parents on board with this idea.
4. How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk
“How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish was sitting on my bookshelf since 2015. I am finally done with it and I must say, it is good! No wonder it is highly recommended by parents everywhere.
Key words behind the techniques – empowerment and connection. It is about having a strong connection with your kids, empowering them to make age apt decision for themselves. Let them problem solve their own issues by making sure they are heard and validated and using non-judgmental or non-blaming language.
I tried a simple experiment. I said, “I see a pencil on the floor” instead of the typical “Why did you leave the pencil in the middle of the floor? Pick it up!”
PPK walked past the pencil, made a u-turn and picked up the pencil! He put it on the table and asked me, “How about now?”
“Wow! I see a clean floor with no stationery.” Haha!
Examples of the techniques mentioned in the book:
Chapter 1 Helping Children with their Feelings
Skill: Give a Child his Wishes in Fantasy
PPK (hiding under mattress and crying because he doesn’t know how to spell for his spelling test)
Me: Are you ok, ppk??
Ppk: Leave me alone!
Me: Okay, I’ll leave you alone. But if you need me I’m here, okay?
Me: Can i give you a hug?
Ppk: (no response)
Me: Are you frustrated that you can’t get your spelling words correct the first time?
Ppk: Stop asking me!
(After awhile more)
Ppk: I don’t want to go to school!
Me: You don’t feel like going to school because of spelling?
Ppk: I don’t want to go to school tomorrow!
Me: I hear how much you don’t want to go to school. Come and sit beside me I want to hug you.
(Ppk comes over)
Me: How I wish I’ve got a magic wand and then tada! I can make all the schools in this world disappear. If you’ve got a magic wand, what do you want to do with it?
Ppk: I want to make all the spelling in the world disappear!
Me: Hahaha, I wish for that too!
Ppk started to madly kiss me all over. Lol.
Chapter 5 Praise
I’m so so convicted of the quote above when I was reading this chapter. Out of the whole book, this chapter on praise spoke to me the most. It shared a story of how two mothers who love their boys a lot but differ in how they talk to them. These two boys turned out very differently. It was a lightbulb moment for me. Most mothers love their kids to pieces but that’s not enough to bring up kids, especially if we want them to thrive in this world.
The author talks about how to give the right kind of praise that will help build up a child’s self esteem and confidence instead of the empty and cliche ones like, “Good job”, “well done”, “I’m so proud of you”, “clever boy/girl”, “I knew you could do it”, etc. I’ve been so mindless in parenting and so careless with my words so often. 😪
But recently I also had a revelation that my issue is NOT simply not praising kor kor enough or lashing out when in anger. It’s because I’m very obsessed with ensuring that he complies by the rules. That was how I was brought up, and so it’s a little innate in me to punish kor kor whenever I think he’s misbehaving or being disrespectful.
One thing I like about this book is, it is for dummies. Like it really handholds and spoon-feeds the readers, teaching me exactly what to say to the kids. I must say I’m a pretty good student because I tried to apply them as much as possible.
I have tried to apply most of the principles taught in every chapter. Not all principles because some are more useful than others, depending on individuals. Really hope I can continue to be conscious and mindful of my language, especially when I return to work. That’s where the real challenge is. Challenging but I think it’s doable? The authors are advocating this to be a way of life rather than just techniques.😊
I wish there are some local parenting book clubs that I can join to learn more from other parents! Like we read some respectful parenting books together and discuss what we have learned, and also to share the mistakes we had made. There is something very powerful about having a community to share similar parenting struggles and/or successes.
Have you heard of respectful parenting? Let me know what you think below. Feel free to ask anything too.
p.s. This is part 2 of a series by HY. For part 1, refer to “I was parenting the wrong way“.
Disclosure: This post not affiliated with Chapter Zero. No remuneration was exchanged as well. However, some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Affiliate link means I’ll get a small commission if you make a purchase. There’s NO extra cost to you. I appreciate your support to maintain this website, so that I can share more tips with you. Thank you!