The dictionary defines a non-conformist as a person who refuses to be bound by accepted customs or rules. Applied to parenting or teaching, this means a child who finds it difficult to respect boundaries at school or at home. Such children are a bit different. Raising a non-conformist, therefore, requires methods not usually found in traditional parenting textbooks focused on discipline and compliance.
The problem is, if you force a non-conformist to comply, you may be raising a rebel. Ask yourself what's more important: that the child obeys your every command or that they grow up to be responsible, well-adjusted individuals?
Alfie Kohn, nationally respected educator and author of "Unconditional Parenting", has moved away from asking how to make children do as they're told. Instead, he asks, "What do kids need - and how can we meet those needs?" What follows from that question are ideas for working with children rather than doing things to them.
He notes that while externally-motivated children respond to rewards and punishment in the short term only, internally-motivated children don't respond at all.
- Offer unconditional love.
- Respect your children.
- Listen to their issues.
- Try to say yes. Think how often you've said no to your child simply because it was easier. Or to save face. Or to pretend you have control.
- It is better to give your non-conformist some space and not try to dictate every aspect of his or her life.
- If their learning style indicates high responsibility, make them accountable for their behaviour.
- If your child is holistic, give them outlets to express themselves creatively.
- Remember that they will grow up before you know it.
Do you know whether your child's learning style is a non-conformist, internally motivated, holistic and responsible? Find out here.