No Punishment, No Rewards For My Kids, Says Mother Of Three
Meet the single mom who has never punished or rewarded her kids and says she never will.
Hannah Canavan, 33, decided to have a gentle approach to parenting after working in a student referral unit, which in the United Kingdom is a public program of alternative education for troubled children.
She said that allowing natural consequences rather than punishment for those kids helped their behavior.
Canavan- who home-educates her daughters Esmae, 11, Eira, nine, and Elfie, seven – chose to adopt the same technique when raising her brood.
Rather than shouting and taking away their iPad or a treat for doing something wrong she will calmly explain why something isn’t right.
Canavan, a home education coach, from South London, the United Kingdom’s capital, said: “I have never punished or rewarded my children, and it really works for me.
“If you look at the prison system you can see punishment doesn’t work as there wouldn’t be second of third-time offenders there if that was the case.
“People think that my kids must misbehave because I don’t punish them but that’s not the case at all.
“Because I don’t shout or take something away from them, they’re not scared of me.
“They respect me and listen to me because I’ll calmly explain why they shouldn’t do something, and they learn from it.”
Canavan has never punished her children – even when they were young.
“If they ran out into the road or something like that my immediate reaction might be to shout ‘no’,” she said.
“But I would then just get them to safety and have a discussion with them about how that is extremely dangerous and show them a video about car crashes so they can see the severity of it.
“Nine times out of 10 they then won’t do it again.
“If you shout at them and say they’re not going to get an ice cream because they did something wrong then they’ll focus on the fact that mom or dad is cross and not on what they actually did.”
Canavan still makes sure she has solid boundaries with her children, and she won’t tolerate swearing, shouting, or hitting.
“If they swear or hit then I’ll look at the situation as to why it happened but explain that it’s not the way to react,” she said.
Canavan often finds that parents who use a more authoritative parenting technique think her children must misbehave a lot and won’t listen to her because she doesn’t punish them.
“Kids are kids, and they don’t always behave as you would like them too,” she said.
“They might misbehave in a restaurant by banging a spoon on the table and rather than shouting at them, I’ll take it off them and take them outside and calmly explain that we won’t go back until they know they shouldn’t do that.
“I’m biased, I think my kids are really lovely and polite – but people think they will be awful because of the fact I don’t punish them.
“But they listen to me and even come to me if they’ve done something wrong as they’re not scared to.
“Just the other day Eira came to me as she thought she had broken a table and she was honest about it.
“They know that I am reasonable, and they’ll always ask for permission from me.”
Canavan also doesn’t believe in rewarding her daughters if they have done something good.
“Of course, if one has done a lovely piece of art or something I’ll praise them and give a genuine reaction,” she said.
“But I won’t get them a treat because of it.
“When they’re older and they start to do exams, we’ll go out as a family to celebrate the effort that went into them rather than the results.
“I don’t want to take away their instinctive motivation to do something.
“If they think they’ll get a reward then they’ll just be doing it for that.”
For Canavan, keeping her household a punishment and reward free space has kept her family close.
“I feel very lucky,” she said.
“Of course, it’s not perfect and we all have off days but we’re a close family and the girls respect me but are also not scared of me.
“I’ll never punish them.”
Top five tips for gentle parenting:
1. Remember that it is a process, not an outcome- so be patient with yourself!
2. If you feel grumpy and that you’re likely to shout, try and lower your voice and whisper- this can often stop kids shouting too as they have to be quiet to hear you!
3. Instead of asking questions when your child has done something you don’t like, state facts instead such as “This needs to be cleaned up please” or “Books aren’t for throwing.”
4. Offer alternatives – “we don’t put those in our mouths, but you can have some ice cubes to suck on” or “we don’t throw books but let’s throw some beanbags in the garden!”
5. Once you have decided on a boundary, accept that there might be a tantrum. Instead of moving the boundary to stop your child reacting, focus on validating their feelings and then helping them to move forward. “I know you’re upset we can’t watch more TV; I feel the same when I can’t watch as much as I’d like. Would you like a hug while you’re feeling sad?”
Produced in association with SWNS.