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Parenting Tips

"Focusing on Solutions" is now a huge theme of Positive Discipline--as is "Connection before Correction."

Also, we now have Five Criteria for Effective Discipline as follows:

  1. Helps children feel a sense of connection? (Belonging and Significance)
  2. Is kind and firm at the same time. (Respectful and encouraging)
  3. Is effective long-term, (Punishment works short term, but has negative long-term results.)
  4. Teaches valuable social and life skills for good character? (Respect, concern for others, problem-solving, cooperation)
  5. Invites children to discover how capable they are? (Encourages the constructive use of personal power and autonomy)

Punishment does not meet any of these criteria, but all of the MANY Positive Discipline parenting tools do. Now that you have some background, here are two suggestions. (Remember there are many more possibilities--but that would require a whole book. :-)

  1. Have regular weekly family meetings. This is a very powerful tool the helps children feel belonging and significance while using their personal power to focus on compliments for every member of the family and then of brainstorming for solutions to problems. These are skills that will serve them throughout their lives. When children are involved in the solutions they feel more capable and are more willing to follow the guidelines they create--for awhile. That "for awhile" is very important for parents to understand. One mother shared with me that the kids came up with a plan during a family meeting to get the chores done. She said it lasted only a little longer than a week, "so that didn't work." I asked her if she had found anything else that got her kids to do their chores for a whole week. She admitted that she hadn't, so I encouraged her to keep having family meetings so the family could keep coming up with new ideas for getting chores done.

  2. Stop "telling" and start "asking." I cover this much more thoroughly in the Positive Discipline books, but will give a brief overview here. How would you feel if someone was always telling you what to do and when to do it? Kids usually resent and resist so much parental control. It is much more effective to ask. Following are some examples of what "telling parents" say and what "asking parents" say. In our Positive Discipline Workshops we ask for 9 "telling parent" volunteers line up on one side of the room, and 9 "asking parent" volunteers to line up on the other side of the room. We then give each of them a statement from the lists. Then we ask for a parent to volunteer to role-play a child who first stands in front of a "telling parent" to listen to the first statement, and then walks across the room to hear the first statement from an "asking parent." The "child" continues back and forth until she has hear all 18 statements.

It is very funny and revealing to watch the body language of the person role-playing the child. The "child" becomes more and more resistant to going to the "telling" line and "interested" in going to the "asking" line. Participants watch the child thoughtfully process the messages from the "asking" parents.

Telling Parent

  1. Go brush your teeth.
  2. Don’t forget your coat.
  3. Go to bed.
  4. Do your homework.
  5. Stop fighting with your brother.
  6. Put your dishes in the dishwasher.
  7. Hurry up and get dressed or you’ll miss the bus.
  8. Stop whining.
  9. Pick up your toys.

Asking Parent

  1. What do you need to do if you don’t want your teeth to feel skuzzy?
  2. What do you need if you don’t want to be cold outside?
  3. What do you need to do to get ready for bed?
  4. What is your plan for doing your homework?
  5. What can you and your brother do to solve this problem?
  6. What do you need to do with your dishes after you have finished eating?
  7. What do you need to do so you won’t miss the bus?
  8. What words can you use so I can hear you?
  9. What do you need to do with your toys when you are finished playing with them?

When we process with the "child" about what she was thinking, feeling, and deciding, she shares how resentful and resistant she felt when going to the "telling" parents and how thought and more likely to feel cooperative when going to the "asking" parents.

It is important for parents to understand the "education" comes from the Latin word "educare," which means "to draw forth." Too often parents try to "stuff in" and then wonder why their "telling" goes in one ear and out the other.

I hope this helps.

Jane Nelsen

Positive Discipline The First Three Years
Positive Discipline For Preschoolers
Positive Time-Out and over 50 ways to avoid Power Struggles in the Home and the Classroom (check out the articles section)

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