This question is in effect asking “How do I mould and shape my child into a person who believes that individuals should be free from unwanted moulding and shaping by others?”
Non-coercive = embracing others exactly the way they are, and they can change if they want to and they don’t have to. Coercive = trying to control, fix or change others against their will.
How viewing other people as wilful perpetrators embodies the mistaken theory that problems are not soluble, and thus can interfere with problem-solving and result in our beloved children being distressed.
This question is like a coercively controlling husband asking: “If you are not coercing your wife, what do you do instead of coercion?” A paternalistic husband who controls his wife out of the best of intentions because he honestly believes that it is for her own good, could ask the same question.
The kind of expressions of approval that are not manipulative are the ones that bubble out of you without any forethought. Anytime you are wondering if what you were planning to say might be coercive approval, it probably is. Is what you are saying the kind of thing you would naturally say to an equal, a friend, or your boss, say? Or does the idea of saying this to your boss seem highly inappropriate?
Taking Children Seriously is a new VIEW of children—a non-paternalistic view: like other groups of human beings, children are people, not pets, prisoners or property. Full people whose lives are their own, not a different kind of person – full, equal humans who should no more be coerced and manipulated and moulded and shaped by others than we adults should be.
Taking Children Seriously is a new VIEW of children—a non-paternalistic view: children do not actually need to be controlled for their own good. An Oxford Karl Popper Society talk.
If a superficially generous act is done for the purpose of modelling, it is not being done out of generosity at all. There is no realistic chance of an onlooker becoming generous as a result of watching such a charade. If anything of it is passed on at all, it will be the parent’s actual motivation (to tell improving lies to children), not the purported one. What is the point of propagating the idea that generosity is a chore but in front of children one must grit one’s teeth and act out the semblance?
Parents often expect a solution to be found from within a small set of parent-approved options, and then they dislike what the child does, and think that that means (more) coercion is necessary.
Parents sometimes imagine that phrasing a command as a question will somehow make it more palatable for the child, but it doesn’t.
Expressions of approval are inherently manipulative the approval is designed to manipulate the child into meeting your own standard.
Imagine if your husband denied you dinner because you had not yet completed the chores he had decided you must do before dinner…
Many have suggested that my use of the word ‘coercion’ is non-standard and that I should find another word, but I think that is the quest for a euphemism. People don’t like using a harsh word for something they think is morally right. But if you prefer, use the word ‘manipulation’ instead—as long as it is clear that manipulating children is not taking them seriously either.
The Faber/Mazlish How To Talk So Kids Will Listen books are not taking children seriously: they advocate double-binding and lying to children to manipulate them into going along with the parent’s agenda that is independent of and impervious to the child’s own wishes.