The Practice Life Method of parenting is built upon a foundation of understanding, respect, and common sense. The goal of P.L.M. is to allow children to develop the skills they’ll need to be successful in life.
The Practice element stems from an understanding of progression: we are all works in progress—on a path to more knowledge, greater abilities, and stronger relationships. This more hands-off approach of parenting allows children to practice skills—whether that’s tying her shoes or playing the trombone or handwriting—to give her every possible chance to improve. By embracing the concept of “practice,” we begin to recognize that challenge is a teacher, not an impediment, and difficult moments are simply learning experiences.
Furthermore, as a child works through tangible challenges, they practice an even more important skill set: problem solving, overcoming adversity, and cognizance. Developing these tools prepares the child to tackle any situation she may encounter later in life.
The Life element is about understanding needs. Feeding our child’s physical needs—the need for sleep, healthy diet, and exercise—goes a long way toward facilitating her body and brain working well together. But additionally, understanding our child’s social needs is just as important toward ensuring her development both as an individual and as an individual who works well with others.
Parents also need to understand that children are infinitely adaptable, so if we allow them to adapt to low expectations, they will. It’s significantly more valuable to raise the bar and expect them to act like people, instead of excusing poor behavior because they’re children. So while we understand that they are in the process of learning through practice, we still expect respectful behavior equivalent to that of any adult.
P.L.M. advocates that an authoritarian hierarchy of parenting creates more problems than it solves. However, the parent is still a more experienced person who helps the child understand the acceptable behavior for the circumstances. Moreover, the parent can help the child by building a structure of routines, while understanding that the structure is a helpful guide of boundaries, but not an unyielding collection of rules.
Most importantly, a parent’s job is to simply be the best self he can be. By setting the example in a non-authoritative way, the child becomes free and more comfortable to copy constructive behaviors. Rather than putting his own life on the back-burner for the child, a parent who fulfills his own wants and needs models healthy self-awareness. When necessary, the parent is available to support the child emotionally in trying times, not in her efforts to overcome the hardship, but rather to process it fully and reach for self-actualization.
Through P.L.M., a parent gets to experience the real joy of having children: a strong relationship that he builds with the child. The relationship is built on a foundation of love and mutual respect, and each encourages the other as they learn and grow on their individual paths.