It is often these children who grow up to become permissive parents, because they want their children to make their own choices but were never taught how to themselves. In permissive homes where the answer to the question, “How much control do I have over myself?” is TOTAL, the age of three is when the parent will either decide that their non-punitive position just doesn’t work or they will continue doing nothing and feel like a martyr. OR, it is my hope, they will answer this question with an answer of healthy boundaries, “You have no control over me but you can make choices that influence me and your world.”

When parents begin the journey from punitive to GBD during the toddler years it is very easy for them to swing too far to permissive parenting, because they do not know how to answer the child’s questions about control, asked through behavior, with anything other than a punishment.

Most children respond to the presence of boundaries with a sigh of relief and improved behavior.

wall with barbed wireA punishment is a type of boundary. It is a firm and unmoving, rigid boundary. It is a wall with barbed wire on top that the child
dare not even attempt to scale.

This is why many parents who start out permissive, and when frustrated at this stage of their child’s development turn to extreme punitive parenting methods, do report success with them. Most children respond to the presence of boundaries with a sigh of relief and improved behavior. And while these parents may become the biggest advocates for these extreme methods, it is because the consequences to the children and the relationship are not always immediately felt.

This is why organizations like those run by Gary Ezzo tend to have contact moms who are first time mothers of one or two toddlers and why most of the original contact moms are no longer supporters of his methods. For more information on why a totally unchallenging child during the toddler years is not a goal worth pursuing I encourage you to visit and read the stories of many of these mothers.

But, removing punishments does not also mean the boundaries have to disappear! In fact, in many otherwise healthy and functioning homes the reason that children begin to misbehave when the punishments stop is because they are needing reassurance that the boundaries have not changed. If they have changed, then the parent needs to explain to the child in what way. This also means the parent needs to sit and explain why the previous methods of enforcing the boundaries is being abandoned.

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