“You don’t need to be Yoda to be a good teacher”, reassured Sarah Ockwell-Smith.
On a gloomy Saturday, she unfolded the concept of imperfectly perfect parenting under the bewildered eyes of a dozen people sitting in an empty school of North London. Like the others, I was keen to access the well-kept secrets of parenting, especially those about discipline.
The parenting author explained us that discipline, following its Latin etymology, is simply a process of teaching and learning. Rather than following discipline techniques encouraged by society, parents should put the focus on themselves and how they respond to situations. A positive role modelling will be much more impactful than compliance sanctions and rewards (sadly promoted in schools in the UK).
Through little group exercises, Sarah Ockwell-Smith showed us that our expectations on children are often overblown ; what we praise in adults (a critical mind, spontaneity and ambition) is often condemned in children. The key to conscious parenting is to treat children with respect and to coach rather than control. Abiding to the authoritative parenting style, she emphasised the importance of setting firm, consistent rules but with compassion and an open mind. Authoritarian and permissive parenting styles are equally harmful (permissive can be seen as neglectful) and parents need to balance control in a healthy way: keeping children safe is more important than being gentle / we can let children have control in their play. It is also helpful to think about the worst that can happen before we say NO – eating on the floor on a picnic blanket or wearing the same dress for one week in a row wouldn’t be that catastrophic, right?
The most soothing lesson I take away from the parenting expert’s talk is that good teachers have flaws and it is okay to make mistakes as long as we apologise for them (let’s stop beating ourselves up!). Parents also learn from their children and it is fine not to have all the answers now.
She concludes by highlighting the need for parents to look after themselves and work through their own feelings in order to have the necessary headspace for when our children need our unwavering support.
I really enjoyed this talk and her ideas were amazingly refreshing. Openness and receptivity were at the heart of her discourse. To find out more about Sarah Ockwell-Smith and her books, visit her website https://sarahockwell-smith.com
*These are my words and opinions, this post is not sponsored.