The Aware Parenting Workshop Review
The first workshop in the UK from The Aware Parenting Institute’s founder, Dr. Aletha Solter was an eye opening two days of talks and group work that left us inspired. Dr. Solter is a mother and Psychologist with a specialism in childhood development. She is also the author of several books on nonpunitive parenting and attachment play.
A roomful of parents and professionals were given an introduction to an alternative approach to parenting; helping your child to behave well without resorting to the carrot OR the stick. Alongside this, the workshop also included advice on supporting children to deal with stress and traumatic experiences.
Aletha Solter grabbed our attention by showing a quote :
“CHILDREN TODAY ARE TYRANTS”
She then asked the room when we thought this was published. We were surprised to hear that it was wise old Socrates in 1400 BC. It seems he was alarmed as many parents still are today by the force of nature and strong will that children may display when asked to eat green things or not squash their younger brothers or sisters.
There was a lot to be learned and the two day course touched on the three main styles of parenting:
Nonviolent authoritative – the traditional and still popular approach of punishment and reward.
Violent authoritative – where actual physical violence or smacking was used.
Permissive- where all behaviours were indulged with unclear boundary setting.
Against these, Dr Aletha Solter balanced her democratic parenting approach and invited us into the forest of democratic discipline, straying from the traditional paths and trying something new. The core of her philosophy is to motivate good behaviour through connection instead of reward or punishment.
One of the most persuasive points suggested that: rewarding changed the intrinsic motivation for a good behavior, and can also set up a cycle of ‘what will I get’ for doing that. Punishments and threats can set up fear, undermine confidence and lead to later rebellion.
The peer reviewed evidence of outcomes for children reared in this way is compelling. The practitioners acknowledged that, especially with young children, it can seem to be a slow and long journey with many challenges. The hard work this entails isn’t taken lightly and much of the focus was on the practicalities of parenting this way.
Rebecca Sheikh, the UK based Aware Parenting practitioner introduced examples of games that can be played to give more chances to connect with your children. How to use fun and laughter to improve behaviour problems and even help children deal with stress and trauma.
The Aware Parenting approach highlights the power of connection as a motivating human need. With guidance of how parents can begin to elicit cooperation from our children rather than obedience, a welcome idea.
“The course has made us much more conscious as to how our children’s bad behaviour is prompted by occasions where they are not getting their needs met – giving them playful ways of relieving stress like some of the games suggested on the course has been both fun and surprisingly effective. It has also given us more incentive for making up our own games and ways to connect with our children.”
Review by Nadia Audhali
London workshops: https://www.flourishingchildhood.com/