We are an oddity in the South. We are the opposite of almost every other parent in our community. We do not spank, (try not to) yell, and do not teach blind obedience. Of course, I know there are times when obedience is definitely required such as parking lots or near water. Obedience is a goal in our unique parenting style but not if it diminishes our bond with our children.
So how do we get them to do things we want? We combine several different parenting styles that focus on communication, safety, and cooperation with a heavy grain of salt in the mix, too. Let me give you a quick example.
Our closet has sliding doors, and one fell recently. My toddlers wanted to pile up pillows on the floor next to the bed and jump between the pillows and bed. I moved the door to a place that was out of their way but could not move it to a more appropriate place at that time. I asked my kids what would happen if it fell on them. Cayden replied without missing a beat, “It would hurt!” I looked into their little eyes and said, “That’s right! It will crush you if it falls on you. It will hurt you. If you touch it, it will fall. I can’t let you play in here on the bed and pillows if you touch it because you won’t be safe.” That time, they did not touch.
A few days later I put up this garland tree:
We really don’t have floor space for a tree so this was our tree. I went through the same speech basically telling them to keep away from the tree. This is how that ended:
Sometimes kids obey, and sometimes they don’t. I choose to refrain from using threats or physical punishments to ensure I am trusted by my children. I try to talk to them about their behaviors and natural consequences of their choices. I don’t “dumb down” what I say to them. They know I want to keep them safe and will help them sort out their emotions.