Long before I became a mother, before I entered the world of early childhood education, I had long conversations with friends about raising children, specifically, how to raise decent ones. Conversations like these were usually sparked by some horrendous spectacle at a restaurant, or shopping mall, or while walking down the sidewalk, and always came around to the conclusion that no matter what I did, my eventual children would never do or be anything less than I wanted them to be. Period. Anything else was a failure of parenting.
Oh, naive and ignorant younger me. Somewhere along the journey from that former self to where I am now, I came into a marvelous collection of books, resources, and amazing mentors in the field of early childhood education who shared a secret with me. To be successful as a parent, raising children who will grow up to be compassionate, capable, integrated souls, I needed entirely different methods: no physical punishments, no coercion cloaked as emotional management. I needed to teach my children how to get their needs met. As they grew clearer about how to meet their needs in pro-social ways, we would all be better off.