Creative Child

The Best-Kept Secret in Parenting

by Rebecca Eanes on Sep 9th, 2015

“It’s the relationship of the child to the adult responsible for their care that is the most significant factor in the unfolding of human potential.” – Dr. Gordon Neufeld 

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Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a Vancouver-based developmental psychologist with over 40 years of experience with children and youth and those responsible for them. A foremost authority on child development, Dr. Neufeld is an international speaker, a bestselling author Hold On To Your Kids and a leading interpreter of the developmental paradigm.

I recently had an opportunity to listen to him speak on The Great Parenting Show, and what he said is so profoundly important that I want to try and summarize it, because I don’t want this to be the best-kept secret anymore. What is this secret?

It’s the relationship of the child to the adult responsible for their care that is the most significant factor in the unfolding of human potential.

Attachment, not behaviorist approaches. It’s not the discipline tricks or techniques that we use to try and modify behavior that makes children want to be good – it’s the quality of our relationship! This has the potential to profoundly change the way we parent since much of parenting is still based upon behaviorist techniques that actually erode the relationship.

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For example, time-out is a social exclusion technique that is supposed to be emotionally painful enough to deter the unwanted behavior, yet when we exclude children, when we withdraw the invitation to exist in our presence, as Neufeld puts it, the relationship gets damaged. Instead of time-out, use these three alternatives to time-out.

The same is true for removal of items and privileges. When we say to the child, “Whatever it is that you are attached to, whatever you care about, I will take that away from you when you are not good,” this essentially is corroding the very thing that makes them want to be good.

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