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In a recent free webinar, I taught a modernized version of the Parenting Pyramid. This parenting approach is solid, even though the original article is dated. I’ve taught it hundreds of times, and I use it in my personal life as a parent. For the webinar, I took its good bones and presented it through a 2022 lens. Here are the highlights:
Reframe the Question
Rather than focusing on what to do when things go wrong, focus on how to help things go right. This is the guiding premise of the Parenting Pyramid. The most proactive parenting we can do it be relationship-focused. If we put our energy into building good relationships, things are much more likely to go right. And when things go right more, the need for discipline lessens.
Discipline as One Tool (Not the Only Tool)
Discipline has a place in parenting, of course. In fact, it’s at the top of the Parenting Pyramid. But it’s not the full pyramid. There are four other components to peaceful parenting. Each component is more important than the last. Discipline is the least important of them all. The most important component needs the most amount of focus. The least important component, discipline, gets the least amount of focus.
Of course, it’s okay to want to know what to do when things go wrong! But let’s spend the majority of our parenting energy on building strong relationships.
Teaching as its Own Outcome
It’s easy to get focused on behavior-based outcomes with kids. The room is clean and the whining has stopped and the homework is done! Your parenting must be solid, right? Maybe. A better question to ask is: Did I help my kid learn along the way?
The Parenting Pyramid, as part of its relationship focus, shows that teaching is its own outcome. If you view misbehavior as a chance to inform your child, there are three distinct benefits:
- You get to bond with your child as you have a conversation about what’s okay, what’s not okay, and why. (Your relationship with your child improves.)
- Your child is less likely to repeat the misbehavior now that they understand why it’s not okay. (Your family relationships are more peaceful without these behavioral disruptions.)
- You don’t have to rely on yelling or shaming your child to get the behavioral outcome you want. (Your relationship with yourself stays strong.)
If you approach misbehavior with behavior-based parenting, there is one benefit: Your child likely will stop the behavior – for now.
Teaching is its own success; it helps build better relationships and long-term change.
The Parent-Child Relationship
You know that sales cliché, I don’t care what you know until I know you care? It’s a cliché for a reason – there’s some truth there. Our kids do not care what we know if they’re not sure we care about them. If they don’t feel liked by us, they will not care to learn from us. It’s how all humans operate.
Does your kid know you like them? Do you spend time together just enjoying each other’s company? Are you familiar with their interests? Are you part of their world or are they just part of yours? A close parent-child relationship is essential for peaceful parenting. When your kid feels valued as a person, they are much more likely to hear you out. This means boundaries, rules, and expectations make sense to everyone, not just you.
Your Adult Relationships
You know this, but it’s worth saying: Parenting is demanding. It requires you to show up to teach, guide, protect, and relate. In order to meet these demands, you need support. You need close relationships with other adults. You need to fall apart, have fun, think out loud, and just simply be. Strong adult relationships are a requirement for peaceful parenting.
Who’s in your inner circle? Who do you call when you need a soft place to land? Who do you count on to show up for you? If no one is coming to mind, first of all: Of course you’re struggling with parenting! Peaceful parenting is an unfair expectation if you don’t have support. Second of all: It’s time to start building some adult relationships.
Your Relationship with Yourself: The Foundation of Peaceful Parenting
In order to have strong relationships with other adults, you’ve got to have a strong relationship with yourself. What does this mean? Having a strong relationship with yourself means taking good care of your physical needs, honoring your mental and emotional health, and connecting with something outside yourself.
Taking good care of your physical needs looks different for everyone. Getting enough sleep is a great place to start. Are you drinking enough water? Do you move your body every day? Basic hygiene is essential, as is taking any required medication and keeping up with medical check-ups.
Honoring your mental and emotional health looks like giving yourself regular alone time to just be with yourself. When was the last time you did something just for yourself? Healthy habits like journaling and meditating are great for your mental health. Letting yourself cry is essential for everyone. And, of course, use mental health care like therapy or coaching when needed.
Connecting with something outside yourself can look like a spiritual practice, religious participation, joining a club or group, or simply spending time in nature.
Move Up the Pyramid
The key to peaceful parenting is to move up the pyramid. Start with your relationship with yourself and work your way up. When your relationship with yourself is strong, you can show up in your peer relationships better. And when your peer relationships are deeply connected, you are more able to build a strong bond with your child. And when you are strongly bonded with your kid, they are much more likely to listen when you teach. And if your kid is teachable, discipline is rarely required.
If you’re not sure how to begin building a stronger relationship with yourself, consider My Mental Health, a new course from me to you.
Don’t Miss My Next Free Webinar
Peaceful Parenting Through the Summer was such a great time; everyone brought thoughtful questions and the feedback was stellar. In fact, check out this email that came through the day after the webinar:
Every webinar is jam-packed with helpful information and hopeful encouragement. I teach on everything from parenting to boundaries to religious trauma to couples communication.
If this appeals to you, I’d love to share more. Learn about working with me.