Human Awareness

Aware Parenting

Parenting Skills 101:
Discipline Without Punishment or Reward

Offering instruction in Aware Parenting skills 

For the purpose of:

  • Alleviating children’s stress
  • Facilitating children’s personal growth and human potential 
  • Preserving children’s natural empathy towards all living things


For parents of  children of all ages & adults including professionals who work with and/or care for children.

I am a Canadian mother who after a lengthy search throughout my daughter’s formative years, found principles of child raising with which I could finally and deeply align.

In time, I received certification in Switzerland as an Aware Parenting Instructor and began using skills based upon those principles from the work of Aletha J.Solter, Ph.D., author of numerous books on conscious parenting and founder of the Aware Parenting Institute in California, USA.

But until my study and certification in Aware Parenting and other related work, personal and professional, I was only aware (with significant exceptions) of how not to parent. Without replacement skills based on sound and viable principles, not repeating the violence of my past was not enough. As John Bradshaw (who introduced the importance of healing the inner child) once said: 180 degrees from wrong, is still wrong. Because of this lack of education, many struggles and painful workings-out of those struggles ensued for myself and my small family.

That being said, through my daughter’s home-birth and home-schooling years, we were graced with periods of healthy attachment and consequent happiness together. Not to mention, richly satisfying experiences resulting from countless leaps of faith.

Over many years I have practiced and fine-tuned these principles. My hope and intention through Aware Parenting instruction is for parents and children to have an easier time together in their challenging, yet rewarding, journey of love. We live in a world in great need of wholesome extension through our children, parented responsively with awareness. Anything less than the highest quality presence and care taking will not be sufficient to sustain life and ourselves any longer.

My favourite book on Aware Parenting would be Tears And Tantrums: What To Do When Babies And Children Cry. This is because the understanding and acceptance of the function of crying in its significance in facilitating stress release and release from past trauma, is in my opinion, one of the most critically important issues for all human beings at every age and stage of development.

In in a similar vein, I would like to touch upon crying and raging. Crying, when facilitating deep release, must be recognized as strength. Both crying and raging (especially out-raging – as a verb) need to be welcomed and appreciated in the form of safe and uplifting expression. This process could be best achieved in a context of genuine active love and support, leading to internal, individual resolution or state of peace and homeostasis. This result could, in turn, lead to humanity as a collective, reaching out in compassionate and respectful communion with our earth and all it’s inhabitants in a spirt of true custodianship.

Vulnerability provides a cornerstone of compassion, grounding us in our shared humanity. This vulnerability also results in individual, authentic connection or relationship with Self and Other – Other signifying all forms of sentient life on this planet, no exceptions.

This “YES” to the expression of feelings, with a “NO” to destructive expression or behaviours begins with how we nurture our children and each others’ children.


To Quote two of Aletha Solter’s statements:

“It’s important to remember that the cause of aggressive behavior is usually some kind of stress or unhealed trauma, and that painful feelings always lie at the root of a child’s aggression.” (from Attachment Play)


“It is important to know that children need the most love and attention when they act the least deserving of it.” (from Tears and Tantrums)


What Is Aware Parenting?

AWARE PARENTING is a philosophy of child-rearing that has the potential to change the world. Based on cutting-edge research and insights in child development, Aware Parenting questions most traditional assumptions about raising children, and proposes a new approach that can profoundly shift a parent’s relationship with his or her child. Parents who follow this approach raise children who are bright, compassionate, competent, nonviolent, and drug free.


Aware Parenting Consists of:

Attachment-style parenting 

  • Natural childbirth and early bonding
  • Plenty of physical contact
  • Prolonged breast-feeding
  • Prompt responsiveness to crying
  • Sensitive attunement

Non-punitive discipline

  • No punishments of any kind (including spanking, “time-out”, and artificial “consequences”)
  • No rewards or bribes
  • A search for underlying needs and feelings
  • Anger management for parents
  • Peaceful conflict-resolution (family meetings, mediation, etc.)

Healing from stress and trauma

  • Recognition of stress and trauma (including unmet needs) as primary causes of behavioral and emotional problems
  • Emphasis on prevention of stress and trauma
  • Recognition of the healing effects of play, laughter, and crying in the context of a loving parent/child relationship
  • Respectful, empathic listening and acceptance of children’s emotions



  1. Aware parents fill their children’s needs for physical contact (holding, cuddling, etc.). They do not worry about “spoiling” their children.
  2. Aware parents accept the entire range of emotions and listen non-judgmentally to children’s expressions of feelings. They realize that they cannot prevent all sadness, anger, or frustration, and they do not attempt to stop children from releasing painful feelings through crying or raging.  
  3. Aware parents offer age-appropriate stimulation, and trust children to learn at their own rate and in their own way. They do not try to hurry children on to new stages of development.
  4. Aware parents offer encouragement for learning new skills, but do not judge children’s performance with either criticism or evaluative praise.
  5. Aware parents spend time each day giving full attention to their children. During this special, quality time, they observe, listen, respond, and join in their children’s play (if invited to do so), but they do not direct the children’s activities.  
  6. Aware parents protect children from danger, but they do not attempt to prevent all of their children’s mistakes, problems, or conflicts.
  7. Aware parents encourage children to be autonomous problem-solvers and help only when needed. They do not solve their children’s problems for them.
  8. Aware parents set reasonable boundaries and limits, gently guide children towards acceptable behavior, and consider everyone’s needs when solving conflicts. They do not control children with bribes, rewards, threats, or punishments of any kind.
  9. Aware parents take care of themselves and are honest about their own needs and feelings. They do not sacrifice themselves to the point of becoming resentful.
  10. Aware parents strive to be aware of the ways in which their own childhood pain interferes with their ability to be good parents, and they make conscious efforts to avoid passing on their own hurts to their children.

Reprinted with permission from the Aware Parenting Institute website ( Copyright © 1994 by Aletha Solter.


Next Steps

Individual Instruction and Group Workshop Facilitation Available – Contact Gwen for Details


Suggested Resources

Book “Risk to be Healed”    The Heart of Personal & Relationship Growth (chapter 11, Taking a Risk with your Children)  Barry Vissell M.D. and Joyce Vissell R.N., M.S.

This chapter helped me make the decision to honour my daughter’s decision to  be at home as opposed to school, for many years of her education.

DVD “Birth As We Know It”  Peace in the Womb=Peace in the World,  directed by: Elena Tonetti Vladimirova