How to Practice Unconditional Parenting in Real Life: Some Helpful Resources

Resources for Gentle Parenting (i.e. how to practice unconditional parenting in real life)

The posts I wrote a few months ago about Unconditional Parenting have inspired all kinds of delightful and interesting conversations, both on the web and in person with friends and family.

It seems like gentle/unconditional/non-punitive parenting resonates with a lot of people, especially mothers. But there’s one problem: most of us have a hard time understanding how to actually put it into practice.

“I love the idea of unconditional parenting,” one friend confessed. “It totally jives with me. I just can’t really get my head around what that looks like.”

I know exactly what she’s talking about.

See, most of us were punished for our behavior as kids. As adults, our friends all use it to discipline their kids. It’s the go-to method for dealing with problematic behavior.  So it’s difficult to even envision other ways of responding to our children, even if we feel in our bones that it’s not ideal. We don’t have any other tools in our toolboxes; so when our kids act out, we resort to the only thing we know.

And the truth is, I don’t really know how to put non-punitive parenting into practice, either. This is all new to me, too, and I’ve never really seen it in real life. As I’ve admitted before, I especially struggle to understand how to practice unconditional parenting with toddlers and young children who can’t understand reason. I don’t have any examples to look to.

That’s why I’m thrilled to have come across a number of wonderful resources in the last few months to help me out. I want to share them with you, too.

If you’re interested in gentle parenting but don’t know how to practice it, please: follow these wise folks. Subscribe to their blogs, follow them on Facebook. They offer all kinds of practical tips and share stories and provide examples. I feel so empowered already, even though I’ve only been following most of them for a couple of months.

So here are just a few to get you started. Check them out! (The titles are all clickable)

Authentic Parenting

(follow them on Facebook)

Lots of articles on non-punitive parenting. My favourite so far was Four Alternatives to Punishment: Positive Solutions in Practice.

Dulce de Leche

(Follow her on Facebook)

Don’t be fooled by the appearance of her her wonky-looking Blogger blog. You will find so much wisdom, as well as love and acceptance, here.

Dulce is as sweet as her name suggests, a passionate Jesus-follower, and ridiculously wise when it comes to parenting. According to her Facebook description, she’s “a mom who is passionate about gentle discipline, breastfeeding, and parent-child relationships. Let’s encourage each other!”

She’s one of my favourite people to follow on Facebook right now – every day, my feed is filled with links to informative articles, reflections on Scripture, and a general overflow of love from her.

Aha Parenting

(follow on Facebook)

If you’re looking for smart, accessible writing from a professional (Dr. Markham is a trained Clinical Psychologist), here’s the place to start! I LOVE AhaParenting. She might be my number one resource. From her About page:

Parenting is tough, but it isn’t complicated.  From tantrums to texting, the secret of happy parenting is a close relationship with your child.  Thousands of research studies over the past four decades show us exactly what kids need to turn out great:

Love (nurturing, respect, empathy, cherishing)
High — but age-appropriate —  expectations.

One of the best things I’ve read from her so far is Obedience: Why Do You Have To Tell Them Five Times?

Barefoot Parenting Facebook Community

I’ve come across so much great stuff from the Barefoot Parenting community, which, according to its Facebook description, focuses on “Celebrating gentle, mindful, attached parenting. Finding beauty in simplicity, and delighting in our children exactly as they are.” Follow them!

Positive Parenting Connection

(follow on Facebook)

Again, lots of helpful stuff here on non-punitive solutions to parenting problems. One of my favourite articles so far has been Help! My Child is So Whiny! Six Positive Ways to Deal with Whining.

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And here are a few other fabulous articles I’ve come across lately on compassionate parenting. Read them!

10 Steps for Taming a “Tantrum” With Love – Mindful Mothering

I feel like I need to write a summary of this article and then memorize it for the day I have to start dealing with tantrums. So, so good.

From the article: “Positioning myself as a headlight in the distance allows my children to be guided back to the individuals we both know they really are, positive sense-of-self intact, feeling loved.”

Responsive Parenting: Why Tantrums Matter – The Mule

“When a child is having a tantrum, they are not being ‘naughty’ or ‘spoilt’, although it can seem that way to us as the parent. . . . But what we now know, thanks to advances in neuroscience, is that tantrums are not deliberate, manipulative or naughty — a small child’s brain just isn’t yet developed enough to make any other choice.”

How To Parent Without Ultimatums – Parenting from Scratch

“We’re so often recommended to give our kids choices, but ultimatums are really the Sophie’s Choice of parenting; a no-win situation. On one hand, if a child ‘chooses’ to stop a certain behavior, he is stopping out of fear or intimidation. Not exactly how we want kids to make decisions in their lives and learn self control. On the other hand if he ‘chooses’ the alternative, he is being punished–punished for something he most likely needs help managing in the first place. And either way, Mom or Dad has a headache and doesn’t feel like engaging with their child.”

Three Alternatives to Saying “Good Job” – Parenting from Scratch

“I realized how little information those words actually conveyed to my children for what is so ‘good’ about the ‘job’ they just did.  While my intention of saying ‘good job’ was celebratory, it wasn’t  really celebrating as much as it was telling them, ‘You pleased me, and that’s “good.”  That’s what you should be doing.’ I don’t want that!  I don’t want my children to please me, I want them to please themselves. ”

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Have you got any excellent parenting resources you’d like to share?



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