Being a Parenting Specialist, I’ve read umpteen million books on parenting and I’m a huge advocate for the Love & Logic curriculum; however, my personal approach falls in line with the way the French parent. The French don’t claim to discipline so much as guide. They believe in allowing kids to just be kids within the “cadre” or framework of a few non negotiables. When a child behaves outside the framework there are consequences, not punishment.
The cadre, aka framework, are the boundaries for which the child lives. They are raised knowing what is acceptable and what is not acceptable and they live within those boundaries, rarely testing them because they don’t really need to. They have a ton of freedom otherwise.
The more control you give away, the more you keep. When children hear “no” more than “yes” and there’s a hard/fast rule applied to every area of their lives, you’re bound to get temper tantrums and angst because it’s human nature to want to be in control of our own lives. So, raise your children within a framework you’ve established and allow them to make their own choices within that frame.
My non negotiables (framework)
- Healthy eating
I DESPISE statements like, “that’s part of being a kid” and “he’s a growing boy, let him eat what he wants”. Why is gorging on chocolate donuts and pringles a “part of childhood”? Who says a “growing boy” should grow up drinking sodas and eating double cheeseburgers at the age of 7? Children are born clean, why dirty up their bodies with junk when you can help them reach their full physical potental fueled by fruits, vegetables, protein, calcium, and water?
It shouldn’t be rare for a child to use manners; it should be the norm. I may, or may not, choose to discipline my child for getting into a fight at school, but you’d better believe they’ll get the stink eye when I overhear them saying “what” or “yeah” to an adult. Hell no! There better be a “yes ma’am”, “no ma’am”, “please”, or “thank you” coming out of their mouths when speaking with adults. They will not smack, slouch, roll their eyes, use potty humor in public, or be disrespectful in any other way without being reprimanded.
3. Screen time
I’ve seen the negative affects of introducing screen time via video games, tv, and ipads way too early. They get addicted, plain and simple. I’ve taught in classrooms where children look at you like you’re growing horns when you hand them a dictionary because they’ve only searched things on google. I’ve dealt with a teenager who grew up playing video games every day all day and can’t hold a conversation because he has no real life experiences. I want my boys to be raised outside! Phones will not be brought to the dinner table (ahem…dad?), ipads will be used for road trips or school projects and TV will be limited to 1-2 programs a day and only after other activities and homework. In fact, I don’t plan on introducing TV at all until years down the road.
I realize not all children are athletic. My boys have the genetics to be athletic, but they might not be superstars on the field. This doesn’t mean they won’t still participate. From an early age, I plan on introducing them to the world of sports because it’s not about the performance on the field. It’s about mentorship, participation, teamwork, effort, commitment, friendship, sportsmanship, and goal setting. I want them to know what it feels like to get out of their comfort zone and try something hard. It may be football, basketball, or track, but it could also be BMX riding or skateboarding…I don’t really care. That choice is up to them, but they will be a part of something.
These are not in order of priority; faith would be at the top of the list. I was raised in the church of Christ and I plan on raising my children to know Christ, too. We will go to church on Sundays, be active members of the congregations, and I can hardly wait for them to be old enough for church camp in the summers.
Studies show that children who have responsibilities at home do better in school. The reason being they’re not living like an honored guest at home buying into the mentality of “someone else will do it”. With chores they learn if it needs to be done, they need to get it done. They have to make contributions to the family just like everyone else. Their rooms are clean and organized, their bathrooms kept nice, and they help with the cooking, the trash, and the laundry.
If you’re thinking, “how does this help you avoid power struggles?” Well, these are the expectations that are set. These are the guidelines. This is the frame. Outside of these things they get to make their own choices. I won’t be behind them barking orders and setting limits all day over little mundane things. They get to live their lifes freely, be themselves, be loud, be silly, get dirty…but they must show good manners, live like a Christian, keep their spaces tidy, and nourish their bodies. Beyond that I want them to take intiative, be creative, be curious, explore…I just want to love them for who they are and show them they’re valued!