When Rebecca Eanes had her second son, her oldest had just passed his second birthday. As is the case in many families, when the new stranger arrived on the scene, wrapped in blankets and capturing the attention and admiration of all of his favorite people, Rebecca’s firstborn began to act out.
Up until that point, motherhood had seemed simpler.
But with this new, challenging behavior presenting itself, Rebecca felt, as many parents do, that she had to prove she still had control. She had to put her son’s behavior in its place.
She resorted to many traditional discipline techniques, perhaps most frequently, a small green time out chair down the hall.
Then she had a realization:
One day, when I saw him sitting there, eyes downcast, chin quivering, tears rolling down his still-baby cheeks, I stopped cold. Suddenly my eyes were opened to what I was doing, to his grief, to his loss and to mine. I looked into his eyes, and I no longer saw trust there. I saw sadness. My little boy no longer trusted his mommy. Not completely. Not like he had before. Traditional discipline had driven a wedge between our hearts.”
Rebecca realized that her son’s behavior was coming from a place of deep and conflicting emotions and that punishment would not magically untangle them. She began to understand that teaching appropriate behavior and healthy emotional connection had to work in tandem.
After that day, and for the decade that has followed, Rebecca has immersed herself in the study of positive parenting techniques. Following a common, evolving pattern of growth and understanding, she has shifted from authoritarian, to “polite authoritarian”, to permissive, to positive.
She now shares her insights and experiences at Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond as well as on Creative Child and Motherly.
In 2016 she published her first book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide*, and her second book, The Positive Parenting Workbook* just released a few days ago. (*Amazon affiliate links)
I’ve been lucky enough to know Rebecca for several years now and was excited to get an early preview of her book. Reading her relatable approach, it’s easy to be eager to share her work with parents who are ready to, as she says, trade punishment for real solutions.
The Positive Parenting Workbook invites you to do much more than just passively read, but also to reflect and apply the information she shares. With personal stories, anecdotal observations, researched references, guided questions, and room to journal, this book goes beyond prescriptive behavior fixes. It addresses the very fabric of your approach to parenting — your experiences, your opinions, your inherited scripts, your relationships, and your habits.
One of the key understandings that Rebecca bases her writing on is one I have observed myself: the power of connection. In studying human development, I have seen over and over again that we are driven by human connection. It is critical to our development, growth, learning, contentment, and joy.
Case after case, study after study, and story after story demonstrate over and again, that the impact of healthy connection — or the lack thereof — is profound.
Rebecca notes that what we often perceive as defiance or misbehavior is actually rooted in disconnection.
Ironically, many traditional discipline methods actually feed that disconnection. We’ve collectively convinced ourselves that by making our love or attention or connection conditional, we can teach our children better behavior.
But the reality is that our children learn best through our connection rather than in the absence of it.
Rebecca eventually threw away her green time out chair in exchange for techniques that support connection and address the specific problem in front of her. Since then, she’s spent years helping other parents set aside their own failing tools and giving them better tools to use in their place.
You can pick up Rebecca’s new book, The Positive Parenting Workbook with this Amazon affiliate link.
Francine Joy Allen says
I like this post. However as a daycare assistant teacher who sees many toddlers and preschoolers “act out”when they feel stressed (could be caused by stuff at home or by long days in daycare, not enough space and equipment to run, climb and play now that the weather is not good to go outside to the play yard, etc.) what can I suggest to my boss, the daycare director? I often find myself trying to balance all the needs of all the kids: noisy ones, ones who want quiet, ones who want attention, ones who refuse to listen to directions (eg. clean up time or other transitions between activities, etc.). I would like to bring my boss solutions and not just problems because that is what a good employee does. We have a big room with toys and books and running space but I think there are areas where kids can get to that they aren’t supposed to be, and I am sometimes the only teacher/adult with 4-6 kids (usually preschool age) at closing time, when I know many are starting to get antsy about waiting for their grown ups from home?