I recently stumbled on a link to this list of “20 Alternatives to Punishment” from the Aware Parenting Institute while reading a friend of a friend’s blog. It resonated with me since I am constantly working from multiple angles to manage life with Will and Owen without imposing artifical punishments or rewards, which tend to backfire for us in the long run.
I think I’ve used just about every tactic on the list with varying degrees of success, but I especially like #19, which reads like this:
"REVISE YOUR EXPECTATIONS.
Young children have intense feelings and needs and are naturally loud, curious, messy, willful, impatient, demanding, creative, forgetful, fearful, self-centered, and full of energy. Try to accept them as they are."
I could add a few adjectives and use it as a guide for puppy parenting too. I've been doing some major revising over the past couple weeks as a dog owner and over the past five years as a parent -- and I am saner for it. And a lot more patient too.
Check out the whole list if you're interested in alternatives to punishment. I'm a believer in the occasional parental time-out (#20) -- although I don't give it an official label.