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24 February 2007


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So what do you do for something like persistent lying, when they are past the age where they are just experimenting with it? Or if they keep deliberately doing something that you've told them not to, there is no easy natural consequence, and the general gentle parenting tricks didn't work?

How natural do you feel the natural consequence needs to be? We've taken to saying that if you persistently misbehave at Mass, then you must be tired. Therefore, you have to go and rest in your room for half an hour when we get home, instead of doing whatever fun activity we would normally do at that time. Natural consequence, or thinly veiled time-out?


Kelly, I think that what makes it a timeout instead of natural is that it is an enforced separation --- the resting has to be in a separate room. I think it would be more "natural" if she/he were asked to rest on the living room couch.

I do almost the same thing with Oscar if he says that some task or chore or schoolwork (that he's perfectly capable of) is "too hard" or that he's "too tired." I present the choice of "either work hard and do it, or lie down and rest until you are not tired anymore." I think this *is* a natural consequence. I think it would function as a time out if I insisted he rest in his room (away from the rest of the family --- an enforced separation) but I typically don't do that --- I have him lie on the couch where I can keep an eye on him. Occasionally he has fallen asleep --- sometimes he is telling the truth!

Back to Neufeld --- he thinks timeouts are a bad idea, because enforced separation is an attachment-damaging rather than an attachment-reinforcing strategy. The attachment is what "works" for you to encourage the child to obey, so attachment-damaging activities (even if they are very deterrent because the child fears separation) hurt you in the long run.


Okay, I understand the point that you're making.

Resting on the couch wouldn't be natural at our house, though. We're a family of introverts, so we all find small times of separation to be refreshing. Not for the littlest ones, of course. But from about age three on, I've found the children will need space alone here or there.


Have you read Punished by Rewards? It seems like it ties in here as well. I personally think the author goes too far - because as a Christian I do believe there is an ultimate punishment and reward - but I think he makes some great points about how we tend to overuse and abuse rewards and punishments (which really are all just the same thing) in mainstream parenting practices.

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