What this may look like in practice is that a toddler who is getting into something the parent doesn’t want them in will be offered a few different redirections, but if they persist at pursuing their original goal they will not be coerced into giving it up.

A toddler who resists the car seat may be allowed to not use one, or the family may give up driving in cars until the child is willing to buckle up. If the child doesn’t want to clean up their toys then the parent cleans them or leaves them out and waits until the child chooses to do it.

Yes, there are practical ideas for creating a common preference for cleaning including organizing things, decluttering, or other practical tips. But should the child not desire to clean there is no coercion to force it.

I have read discussions over how a parent could resolve the problem of needing to use the bathroom when out in public with a child who resisted going into public restrooms. Suggested brainstorming solutions included everything from never going out in public with the child to wearing Depends so that mom could potty without taking the child into the bathroom.

Other discussions I’ve heard about include discussing the reasons why a teen may need to injure animals, and why coercion is wrong even in the case of intervening with a suicidal teen because they have valid reasons for wanting to end their life. I hope you can see why I outright reject these philosophies!

It is very frustrating to me when GBD is confused with TCS/NCP. While I present GBD as a “low coercion” approach to parenting because it is about relationships, and while brainstorming and conflict resolution skills are stressed in order to have everyone’s needs met, the parent is the absolute authority in the home and there is no fear of damaging a child through coercion.

GBD involves boundaries and limits and a standard for success that is set and taught to the child. Grace plays a role in all of this through the parent’s willingness to help the child meet the standard until the child can meet it on their own, but moving them towards that goal is the direction and purpose of parenting.

I hope that you will spend some time in the GBD section of the site to learn some effective tools that are designed to foster relationship while engaging in very real discipline. A parent need not fear their authority or become child centered in order to be respectful of their child and gentle. GBD is the way to accomplish both gentleness and standards as it is both kind and firm.

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