Creative Child

Pulling Weeds: Shifting Focus from Discipline to Nurturing the Whole Child

by Rebecca Eanes

Raising humans is a complex task, yet many parents hone in on one element alone – discipline. Becoming so intently focused on managing behavior narrows our picture significantly, and we lose sight, and therefore the intentions, of the many other elements that effect how our children grow.

Among these other elements are the home atmosphere and family culture we provide, our values and beliefs and how we live them out in front of our kids, the relationships we have with others in and outside of the home, the way we manage our own emotions and behavior, how we communicate both verbally and nonverbally, and the beliefs we hold about raising children and the thoughts that play over and over in our minds about our worth and theirs.

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I have addressed all of this in my book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, because I believe we need to broaden our view of parenting if we want to raise whole-hearted humans.

I’m not the first person to liken parenting to gardening, but I think it’s a very good analogy to make this point. To grow healthy plants, they need to be in the proper environment. They need water, air, and sun. Pulling the weeds in the garden helps to showcase the beauty of the growing plants and allows more space for them to grow.

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What would happen to the plants if the gardener pulled the weeds consistently but failed to provide sunlight, water, air, or the right environment? There may be no weeds, but the plants themselves will also wither away.

And so it is with children. Correcting misbehavior is like pulling the weeds. The purpose is to allow room for the child to grow healthy and strong in character and to showcase the beauty within him, but if we aren’t providing the other elements, he, too, will wither in spirit. The plant’s potential will never be realized without tender care and the proper nutrients, and the same is true for a child.

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