Formally trained in traditional Chinese medicine, I learned early on to treat the root cause of a disease, not the symptoms.
When I became a parent, my training led me to question the standard methods of parenting, from old-style authoritarianism to modern-day permissiveness. Might there not be a better way – a less stressful way that is easier on both parent and child?
My desire to be a better parent led me to do extensive research – and Democratic Parenting: A Common-Sense Guide to Raising Happy Kids is the result. It’s a book that teaches parents to look for, and deal with, the root causes of potentially disruptive child behavior. I want to encourage children to be raised in positive environments that are as free from stress and as healthy as possible.
I didn’t invent the term ‘democratic parenting’. It’s been around for a while. But what I did do, building on my background in Chinese medicine, is try to make the concept more accessible.
One of the keys to democratic parenting is understanding and meeting your child’s basic needs. I've uncovered 15 legitimate needs that children must have met if they are to be free from stress and more happy. I work with parents, teachers and anyone interested in child development in my workshops or one-on-one on how to identify when these needs.
Children understand intuitively that their very survival depends on adults taking care of them. Positive relationships with nurturing adults are therefore essential to their wellbeing. And anything that threatens or undermines those relationships is a source of stress.
Children also have a deep and abiding sense of justice. Because they are smaller and weaker than the adults on whom they depend, they know intuitively that “might” does not make “right”. Only when they perceive actions as fair will they, as children, feel they are being treated with respect.
We’ve all heard the expression, ‘It takes a village to raise a child. Not everyone in the village is a parent. We are all neighbours, friends, aunts, uncles or grandparents of children.
So whether you have one child, a dozen, or none at all is not important. What is important is recognizing that the formative childhood years are a powerful time in everyone’s life, and that we all have a stake in making sure the children around us grow up under the best conditions possible.
After all we were all once children ourselves. And most of us carry around strong memories, both positive and negative, of incidents and people around us.
I want to help make sure that for the next generation of kids, as many of those memories as possible are happy ones.