No scolding, no timeouts
It’s early December in the Arctic town of Iqaluit, Canada. And at 2 p.m., the sun was already calling it a day. Outside, the temperature was a balmy minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit. A light snow was swirling.
I came to this seaside town, after reading Briggs’ book, in search of parenting wisdom, especially when it comes to teaching children to control their emotions. Right off the plane, I started collecting data.
I sat with elders in their 80s and 90s while they lunch on “country food” —stewed seal, frozen beluga whale and raw caribou. I talked with moms selling hand-sewn sealskin jackets at a high school craft fair. And I attended a parenting class, where day care instructors learn how their ancestors raised small children hundreds — perhaps even thousands — of years ago.
Across the board, all the moms mentioned one golden rule: Don’t shout or yell at small children.
Traditional Inuit parenting is incredibly nurturing and tender. If you took all the parenting styles around the world and ranked them by their gentleness, the Inuit approach would likely rank near the top. (They even have a special kiss for babies, where you put your nose against the cheek and sniff the skin.)
The culture views scolding — or even speaking to children in an angry voice — as inappropriate, says Lisa Ipeelie, a radio producer and mom who grew up with 12 siblings. “When they’re little, it doesn’t help to raise your voice,” she says. “It will just make your own heart rate go up.”
Even if the child hits you or bites you, there’s no raising your voice? I asked
“No,” Ipeelie says with a giggle that seems to emphasize how silly my question is. “With little kids, you often think they’re pushing your buttons, but that’s not what’s going on. They’re upset about something, and you have to figure out what it is.”
Traditionally, the Inuit saw yelling at a small child as demeaning. It’s as if the adult is having a tantrum; it’s basically stooping to the level of the child, Briggs documented.
Elders I spoke with say intense colonization over the past century is damaging these traditions. And, so, the community is working hard to keep the parenting approach intact.
Goota Jaw is at the front line of this effort. She teaches the parenting class at the Arctic College. Her own parenting style is so gentle that she doesn’t even believe in giving a child a timeout for misbehaving.
“Shouting, ‘Think about what you just did. Go to your room!’ ” Jaw says. “I disagree with that. That’s not how we teach our children. Instead you are just teaching children to run away.”
And you are teaching them to be angry, says clinical psychologist and author Laura Markham. “When we yell at a child — or even threaten with something like ‘I’m starting to get angry,’ we’re training the child to yell,” says Markham. “We’re training them to yell when they get upset and that yelling solves problems.”
In contrast, parents who control their own anger are helping their children learn to do the same, Markham says. “Kids learn emotional regulation from us.”
I asked Markham if the Inuit’s no-yelling policy might be their first secret of raising cool-headed kids. “Absolutely,” she said.
To be continued…..
I stumbled on this beautiful piece in some blog ( link will be at the end of the entire publication). After reading it, I found it very interesting and worthy to be shared. So, I decided to share it in parts. You will get the continuation of this article in different forms.
For part one > Click here
For part three> click here
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