People are often surprised to learn, that although I advocate for gentle, peaceful and natural parenting, I do not advocate for child centred parenting.
Child centred parenting is the phenomenon of primarily filling your time with activities specifically for the child, along with asking them for direction and allowing them to choose what the whole family should do.
Perhaps confusingly, I do believe fully that a child has the right to freedom of choice, but the key difference I see in child centred parenting is that the scales are tipped in a vastly unbalanced way, often giving the child the control over the choices of the entire family and setting them in the place of the “leader” of the family.
This is another major difference between Continuum families and Attachment parents, and although I consider myself both, child centred parenting is something I see far more of in the AP world.
So what is the harm in child centred parenting?
Well, as Jean Liedloff famously wrote in The Continuum Concept:
I love the philosophy of Waldorf, the simplicity, the natural resources, the beauty and rhythm of the day. We are currently living fairly close to the Waldorf ideals and have enjoyed purging the plastic and simplifying the toys and resources in our home.
We spend vast amounts of time in nature, where I feel learning is abundant and joyful. The lessons come so naturally and are never forced on our sons absorbent little mind.
We made the decision a long while ago, that our son will not be attending school. Of course, it is not entirely our decision to make, and if he reaches seven or eight and insists on going, we will have to cross that bridge and look in to our options. However, I can’t see that happening.
Why don’t I want him to go to school?
There is a common misconception these days that things equal happiness. That love is shown through buying and giving and the more you spend, the more you must love.
It can be easy to fall into a trap of conditioning our children to expect rewards and gifts at every opportunity, whilst also teaching them to rely on objects and material goods rather than their own imaginations to keep them engaged and entertained.
But not only is this a slippery slope into creating an unquenchable want and expectation for more within our children, it is also the polar opposite of what they actually need.
My son has a new toy, an orange tractor which he is very proud of. He has very few toys (by comparison to typical western families) and I bought this on a whim when I saw how much he loved it, and his whole face lit up.
I work part-time as a childminder so every week children come to the house and play with “his” things. The evening before a little boy, (who I will call Josh for the purpose of this article) was due to come, my little boy held on tight to his tractor, quietly saying “Josh isn’t going to play with my tractor.”
**This is a guest post from Ariadne Brill of Positive Parenting Connection**
“I do it ME self!”
“I wanted to do it!”
“Me. Me. Go Way. ME DO IT!”
“I starting again, to do it MY way mama.”
There is a phase in the toddler years where children are intensely interested in doing things for themselves, in a specific way and on
their own time table, it’s an incredibly wonderful time for children,
sometimes frustrating, but full of learning. Often this phase can be
incredibly frustrating for parents and caregivers as well. The desire to jump in and show the “right way” or to just “get things done” and move along can inadvertently create a whole lot of disconnect and power struggles between parents and children.
So how do we find a balance between welcoming independence, encouraging the curious and determined toddler and meeting the needs of the whole family?