Susan Radzilowski: Practical Strategies for Peaceful Parenting (1h7m)

This episode features a parenting workshop by social worker Susan Radzilowski from 2016. This workshop views behavior through the lens of positive parenting. A guiding principle of this framework is to remember that all behavior has meaning. Using positive discipline strategies when your child’s behavior is a concern can help to transform problem behaviors into teachable moments. Purchase books on peaceful parenting through the EVC Recommended Links page here.

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Introduction to Peaceful Parenting

The following essays comprise Section Five of Everything Voluntary: From Politics to Parenting, a book compiled by the editor, Skyler J. Collins, and intended to introduce the philosophy of peaceful, respectful, effective parenting.

Natural Born Bullies, by Robin Grille

“It’s been shown that violent children come from violent or neglectful homes. This matter has been put to rest. But only about half of abused children grow up to be abusive. Why? Individuals who remain convinced that verbal or physical assaults against them were ‘deserved’ are significantly more likely to act out violently.

This is also true for violence witnessed against others. Bandura (1973) refers to a study that found that children displayed much more imitation of violent behaviors depicted on video, if these behaviors were approved by an adult, less so if the adult was silent, and even less if the adult expressed disapproval of the video violence. Children who grow up believing that being hit is what they well-deserved, go on to be more accepting of and de-sensitized to violence in general. They are candidates for the ranks of bullies, victims, or both.”

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Childhood: The Unexplored Source of Knowledge, by Alice Miller

“Sufficient scientific evidence has been marshaled to refute the notion that some people are just “born bad.” This absurd myth, encountered in almost all cultures, has been effectively exploded. It is dead, but it refuses to lie down. We know today that the brain we are born with is not the finished product it was once thought to be. The structuring of the brain depends very much on experiences gone through in the first hours, days and weeks of a person’s life. The stimulus indispensable for developing the capacity for empathy, say, is the experience of loving care. In the absence of such care, when a child is forced to grow up neglected, emotionally starved, and subjected to physical cruelty, he or she will forfeit this innate capacity.”

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Why Do We Hurt Our Children? by James Kimmell

nohittingstock“We do not know when punishment first became a method used to direct children’s development. I have never read about a hunter-gatherer society that punishes their children as part of child care. In ancient civilizations, and throughout the history of civilization, punishing children was a common practice (deMause), and the practice continues today in much of the civilized world. Punishment is and has been a commonly accepted part of American child-rearing (deMause, Beekman). It is perceived as a legitimate and appropriate form of discipline. Its legitimacy in human relationships has few parallels in American life, especially since the abolition of slavery. Other than children, only convicted criminals are legally allowed to be punished. But children do not even have the rights of criminals, as they are allowed to be punished without a trial. The closest parallel to punishing children would be the punitive ways in which we domesticate and train young animals so that they will serve, submit to, and entertain us. When we punish our children, we serve to perpetuate the Western civilization belief that children are, like animals, inferior beings who need to be tamed, trained, and controlled.”

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On Seeing Children as “Cute”, by John Holt

johnholt1“We should try to get out of the habit of seeing little children as cute. By this I mean that we should try to be more aware of what it is in children to which we respond and to tell which responses are authentic, respectful, and life-enhancing, and which are condescending or sentimental. Our response to a child is authentic when we are responding to qualities in the child that are not only real but valuable human qualities we would be glad to find in someone of any age. It is condescending when we respond to qualities that enable us to feel superior to the child. It is sentimental when we respond to qualities that do not exist in the child but only in some vision or theory that we have about children.”

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10 Ways We Misunderstand Children, by Jan Hunt

We somehow forget what it was like to be a child ourselves, and expect the child to act like an adult instead of acting his age. A healthy child will be rambunctious, noisy, emotionally expressive, and will have a short attention span. All of these ‘problems’ are not problems at all, but are in fact normal qualities of a normal child. Rather, it is our society and our society’s expectations of perfect behavior that are abnormal.”

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Raising Children Compassionately, by Marshall Rosenberg

“This objective of getting what we want from other people, or getting them to do what we want them to do, threatens the autonomy of people, their right to choose what they want to do. And whenever people feel that they’re not free to choose what they want to do, they are likely to resist, even if they see the purpose in what we are asking and would ordinarily want to do it. So strong is our need to protect our autonomy, that if we see that someone has this single-mindedness of purpose, if they are acting like they think that they know what’s best for us and are not leaving it to us to make the choice of how we behave, it stimulates our resistance.

I’ll be forever grateful to my children for educating me about the limitations of the objective of getting other people to do what you want. They taught me that, first of all, I couldn’t make them do what I want. I couldn’t make them do anything. I couldn’t make them put a toy back in the toy box. I couldn’t make them make their bed. I couldn’t make them eat. Now, that was quite a humbling lesson for me as a parent, to learn about my powerlessness, because somewhere I had gotten it into my mind that it was the job of a parent to make a child behave. And here were these young children teaching me this humbling lesson, that I couldn’t make them do anything. All I could do is make them wish they had.”

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Born to Explore, by Missy Willis

“As parents, it is critical that we recognize the role of curiosity in shaping our children’s lives. We must respect this innate characteristic by responding to our children positively when they seek to learn. They should not be punished for touching things in their own home or even a home they are visiting. They should not be scolded for being creative with the things they find, like taking all the Kleenexes out of the box and tossing them into the air, watching them fall like little parachutes. They should not be reprimanded for doing what they were created to do, which is to explore their surroundings. Constant parental utterings of ‘No, no, no.’ can be confusing to a child. When they gravitate to something of interest, it is far better for parents to follow their child and work with them to explore the newfound interest. Whether it is a plant, a plastic bowl, the remote control, or a silky scarf, talk to your child about what she is seeing and what she is feeling. Describe it to her using rich and vibrant language. Touch it with her. Make relevant associations and pave the way for her to make connections between what she found and the larger world. Validate her interest and in doing so you are teaching your child about the immediate world in which she lives and inevitably building upon her developing language skills. Now, honestly, isn’t that more fun than resorting to ‘No, no. Don’t touch.’?”

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The Building Blocks of Peaceful Parenting

Writes Free Your Kids:

Peaceful parenting is not permissive parenting. Our kids don’t run the house. We do not live in chaos and disarray.

The fundamentals are self-ownership and the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP). We teach our kids that they own themselves. No one should be permitted to encroach on their bodies or their property. The companion to this is that they must respect another’s right to his/her own body and property. This applies to children and parents.

We teach them the NAP. They should not initiate violence against another’s body or property. Self-defense is not ruled out by the NAP.

We do fairly well living by these principles. Our home is quite peaceful. Aggression is rare. We talk continuously to the kids about these two ideas. No other rules are really necessary.

This is what peaceful parenting looks like. Respect the rights of others. Do not commit acts of violence. These are the building blocks.

Beautiful. We, too, practice self-ownership and non-aggression in our family. Give it a try!


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What Do Peaceful Parenting Homes Look Like?

Writes Free Your Kids:

What does a peaceful-parenting home look like? I won’t presume to speak for all such homes, but, at first glance, ours doesn’t appear to be “peaceful”, at least in the ways many might suppose.

Our home is loud. It is raucous. The children often scream. They often shriek and squeal. Towers of blocks go crashing. Toy mowers are being pushed. Children run from room to room playing tag. Someone’s banging on metal pots with a metal spoon. Two of them are wrestling on the couch. The baby is standing at the window screeching at passing cars.

We love roughhousing. We enjoy blasting music. We often have “scream battles”. The children talk – loudly – all day long.

I often say we don’t yell in our house. This is untrue. We don’t yell *at* someone. We don’t use yelling as punishment. However, we must often yell to be heard over the cacophony of many small bodies making mayhem.

Sure, there are moments when things are quiet, but these moments are fleeting. We do have a nice, quiet time in the afternoon while the baby naps, but when she awakens, the rowdiness resumes.

Peaceful does not mean quiet. Peaceful, in our case, means non-violent. Peaceful means respecting each other’s rights. Peaceful means that when someone is feeling aggressed against, he/she yells “encroachment” and the offending behavior ceases.

So, if your “peaceful parenting” home is full of rambunctiousness, you’re not alone. We live out-loud here.

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Peaceful Parenting, Peaceful World

Written by Alex Perales for Alex and Liberty.

When it comes to most libertarians it is easy to acknowledge that we, in general, dislike those who believe they have some kind of authority over us. We generally don’t want other people telling us what to do and how to live our lives. We often say that we just want to be left alone so that we as individuals can best choose our path, regardless if it is a good path or not.

Most people would agree with this, libertarian or not, but the subject of individuality and no authority often becomes mute when the issue is raising children. Most of my friends are completely shocked when I mention that I have zero intentions of spanking my children as discipline. They usually say that this type of discipline is effective and necessary. It might very well be effective but is it necessary for raising well behaved children? I believe the answer is no.
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Does Peaceful Parenting Mean Letting Kids Do Whatever They Want?

Guest post by Laura Markham.

It might seem like just letting your kid do whatever she wants would make you more peaceful. No struggle, right? But that lasts for about three minutes.

What makes a peaceful parent is regulating your own emotions so you can stay lovingly connected, to help your child process hers. That’s what helps kids learn to manage their emotions, so they can manage their behavior — and so they want to!

So peaceful parents are always “in charge.” Young children are new on the planet, and it’s our job to be their guides. Otherwise, kids keep pushing to make sure someone is “in charge” and will keep them safe. That’s part of providing a peaceful, nurturing, joyful, safe home so our children can thrive.
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