This has been an interesting journey for me. First I realized that discipline and punishment are not the same thing, and that spanking was no more effective that any other type of discipline. Once we decided we wanted a break from spanking, we knew that we had to remove it completely as an option, otherwise we would slip into old habits. I was always told that parents who don’t spank are bound to become permissive and let their kids walk all over them. Determined that this would not be true in my case, I read all the discipline books (well, maybe not all) in my library.
These are the books that I have benefited from so far:
Discipline from birth to 3: This book doesn’t go into a whole lot of detail, and I am not a teen parent. But it is the first non-christian parenting book I read, and it is the one that introduced me to the concept that discipline is not punishment. I think the main point of this book is that you are not alone.
Without spanking or spoiling: This book strikes me as slightly manipulative sometimes, since it’s main focus is how to to get the behavior you want out of your children. I do recognize that sometimes it is necessary to work for specific results, and I really appreciated the step by step workbook format. This book helped me to think through why I do what I do and focused on toddlers and preschool aged children, which is what I have.
The time out solution: This book has probably been the most helpful to me so far. The title had me thinking that it was going to be a replica of my old system of discipline, except with time-outs substituted for all of the spankings. But that was not the case. It digs into many creative ways to train your children and explains specifically when and for what time-outs are most helpful for.
Sibling abuse: This is not a discipline book, but in reading it I was surprised again by just how unhealthy power imbalances can be. Their is only one chapter on how spanking encourages siblings to abuse each other, but the rest of the book was eye-opening too. I was always taught that children had no authority whatsoever, that parents were the complete masters. As I look back, I can see where that kind of family structure would warp the way you see power. The stronger rule the weaker, and may use physical force if necessary. It only deepens my desire to teach my children that they each have power, to encourage others, or to harm them. And they have the power to say no to people that try to hurt them, no matter who those people may be.
So far the only christian parenting book that I’ve found that teaches discipline without spanking being a major component is:
A hug and a kiss and a kick in the pants: This book is chock-full of stories and ideas about child-training. I really enjoyed her easy approach to discipline. It doesn’t give a “system” or a list of rules, and there isn’t a whole lot of step by step practical advice, but I still learned alot from this ladies perspective and advice.
If any of you have a gentle parenting book that you have learned from PLEASE give my research a boost and leave the title in the comments!!