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I’ve been hearing about “peaceful parenting” a lot lately and it sounds wonderful. Images of sipping coffee while my kids play quietly at my feet come to mind.

Then reality hits and I realize that my five-year-old is jumping off the couch (how many times have I told him not to climb on the furniture?). Meanwhile, my toddler stomps around the kitchen in my husband’s muddy farm boots, splashing water from a glass pitcher that she “found” in the childproof cupboard.

Clearly this “peaceful parenting” won’t work in our household. Or will it?

Which Parenting Style is Better:

Authoritarian, Permissive, or Authoritative Parenting

Maybe you were raised in an authoritarian household, where your parents spanked, yelled, and strictly imposed their rules and so you find yourself reverting to those parenting methods. Or, maybe you were raised in a permissive (or even an uninvolved) household where your parents took a hands-off, lenient approach.

Which parenting style is better? Which style would you (and your children) flourish under?

Chances are, you and your children won’t benefit from either of those styles of parenting.

What is peaceful parenting?

Peaceful parenting, also known as positive parenting or authoritative parenting, isn’t based on authoritarian or permissive parenting. Instead, it focuses on establishing rules, but it also allows for occasional exceptions. Children are involved in the discipline process, including setting and following through with the consequences.

The main benefit of peaceful parenting is that children learn about natural consequences. For example, if a twelve-year-old forgets to bring his lunch to school, a permissive parent would immediately drive the lunch to the school (and probably apologize for forgetting to pack it in the child’s backpack). An authoritarian would pay for the child to eat the school lunch and punish the child at the end of the day. A “peaceful parent” would tell the child to pay for the school lunch out of his piggy bank, thus teaching the child to take ownership of his own mistakes.

Why would you want to change your discipline style?

If you’re tired of arguing with your child or feeling like your toddler has more authority than you do, it’s time for a change!

According to Amy Morrin, LCSW, “Children raised with authoritative discipline [peaceful parenting] tend to be happy and successful. They are often good at making decisions and evaluating safety risks on their own. They often grow up to be responsible adults who feel comfortable expressing their opinions.”

Morrin also notes that, “Although children who grow up with authoritarian parents tend to follow rules much of the time, they may develop self-esteem problems. Sometimes children become hostile or aggressive as they may focus more on being angry at their parents for the punishment rather than learning how to make decisions and solve problems…. Kids who grow up with permissive parents tend to struggle academically. They may exhibit more behavioral problems as they will likely not appreciate authority and rules. They often have low self-esteem and may report a lot of sadness.”

Peaceful parents are more in control of situations than permissive and authoritarian parents. They’re able to regulate their own emotions, prompting their children to think logically about problems, and they’re also able to create a more peaceful home where children feel comfortable seeking advice.

When can you use peaceful parenting?

Peaceful parenting can be used in almost every parenting situation. I consistently refer to my copies of the Parenting With Love and Logic books (read my review for more information on the books) for advice on different situations, like when my toddler won’t stay in her bed and when my five-year-old doesn’t follow directions.

While I have made mistakes, when I follow the positive parenting principles, our home is a much happier place.

What happens when your child throws a tantrum?

Even if you’ve been practicing positive parenting for a significant period of time, meltdowns may still crop up. The best part about peaceful parenting is that you’re better equipped to deal with things like tantrums.

AhaParenting.com advises you to “welcome the meltdown.” While that’s much easier said than done (I’ve had to carry my kicking and screaming toddler to the car after she repeatedly screamed “no shoes” when I gave her the choice between her kitty cat shoes and her soft shoes), I wholeheartedly believe that empathy goes a long way.

Showing your child that you understand and are listening to their concerns will alleviate a lot of their stress. In the case of toddlers, I also recommend having a comfort object, like a favorite blanket, handy to help soothe your child during meltdowns.

I love the advice that positive parenting is about showing leadership, not dictatorship. “Good leaders lead by example. They listen, try to balance everyone’s needs, and protect. Being in charge means you take responsibility to provide a wholesome, nurturing environment. It doesn’t mean you need to be controlling or punitive.”

Learning to be a positive parent isn’t always easy, but you may find that you (and your children) will be much happier with this parenting style. Since it can be used in so many different situations, you may even have fun with it like the Love and Logic books suggest! Although tantrums won’t completely go away, you’ll find that they occur much less frequently (and you’ll be armed to handle them).

Have you tried peaceful parenting? How did it change your family?

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