In this article, you’ll find concise descriptions of popular words and phrases that are often used in the gentle parenting community.
Put simply, boundaries are lines that you draw around certain behaviors and expectations that mark the difference between “acceptable” and “unacceptable”.
They are essentially whatever ways you choose to protect yourself, other people, and your space (home, car, etc.) from unacceptable behaviors.
From saying and maintaining “No, we’re not buying that candy right now.”, to “I’m sorry, to use this paint we have to use it in the kitchen, on the table.”, to “I won’t let you hit me.”, boundaries are important in maintaining order, and in teaching children the ways we do and do not treat other people and their property.
Emotional Processing is the means by which we come to understand, accept, and cope with whatever emotions we are experiencing in a given moment, day, or season. This endeavor can look different for different people, and include both “internal processing”, like thinking through things by yourself, and “external processing” like journaling, walking, painting, and talking things through with God and/or other people.
Processing almost always includes pausing and reflecting on what you’re experiencing, and communicating it in some form or fashion, even if you’re only communicating it to yourself.
Expressing your emotions, is to feel something inside your mind and heart, and then demonstrate it to the outside world; be it to your empty bedroom, or a gymnasium full of people.
Expressing your emotions can be done in healthy and productive ways, or in unhealthy and destructive ways.
Left unexamined, our emotional expressions can often be the cause of many of our biggest arguments, but given proper attention, can be the source of some of our most intimate moments with the people we care about.
Emotional Resilience is your emotional strength and stamina. It is the strength with which you stand up to stressful/upsetting/stretching situations. Emotionally Resilient people have an easier time “bouncing back” from both small and large changes, and can more readily face conflict without fear of a breakdown.
For the person with low emotional resilience, it can be difficult to face even mundane tasks and common disruptions in a schedule, as even relatively small hiccups in a day can cause waves of very large emotional responses.
Emotional Regulation/Self Regulation
Emotional regulation, or self regulation is the ability to “self-soothe”, so to speak. It’s the way in which we prevent a massive rollercoaster of emotions, or at the very least, recognize when we’re on the rollercoaster (extreme ups and downs in anger or sadness or elation, etc.), and to “stop the ride”. It is also the way in which we are able to keep ourselves “level headed” throughout a normal day, not only extremely volatile ones.
This doesn’t mean that a person who has become proficient at self regulation feels no deep emotions, it’s more that this person is better able to control how those emotions affect their behavior, and also recognize when their emotional response is not matching the reality of a situation, and in stead is a connected to a deeper cause.
Emotionally Resilient people are typically master self-regulators. They know when they need to “cool down” by taking a walk or having a cup or tea, or when they need to be lifted up, by seeing close friends or going to the park.
A natural consequence is a consequence that flows directly from an action, without any external coercion to make it happen.
For example, if a child is eating and he throws his food on the floor, the natural consequences are that his food gets dirty and he can’t eat it anymore.
A logical consequence is a consequence that also follows directly from an action, but is enacted and/or enforced by an outside party. If a child throws his food on the floor, the logical consequence is that he must clean up his mess. Consequences are the direct result of an action taken. They are always relevant to the situation, because they are almost always inevitable, such as having to clean up a mess you’ve made.
If we too often shield children from the natural and logical consequences of their actions, it’s likely that they will grow up with a distorted view of reality, and of the effects of their actions on other people.
Even still, it’s important when enacting logical punishments to avoid harshness or using them as retribution to “make someone feel sorry” for what they’ve done. Logical consequences should only be used in the pursuit of actual restitution.
Contrasted with consequences, punishments are enacted upon someone in retribution for a crime committed, going beyond repayment for damages. Whereas restitution focuses on restoration for the damage one has caused, punishment goes further, and is an artificially constructed, negative consequence, created to disincentivize unwanted behavior.
If what is meant by “punishment”, were logically connected to crime, sin, or generally wrong behavior (E.g. He stole the eggs, so he must pay back the amount of what he stole, plus the other damages incurred by the owner from not having the eggs when needed.), then the difference in language between punishment vs. consequences and restitution would be almost unnecessary.
However, this overlap of terms is rarely -if ever- the case when speaking of punishing children.
More often than not, what’s meant by punishment is in reality an attempt to use pain or discomfort to force the child into submission, and ostensibly to make the child regret the wrong they’ve done, as well as avoid the punishment-inducing behavior in the future.
Punitive parenting is a type of parenting that allows for punishments as a form of behavior modification.
Punishments, like spanking and time outs, grounding, removal of privileges, the taking of property, etc. (or the threats thereof), are the main tools used to hold boundaries in punitive households.
Thank you for reading! I hope this is a helpful for you in understanding some of the phrases and words we use in the GP community!
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