Parents

Encouragement: What does it mean and how is it done?

Rudolf Dreikurs taught, “A child needs encouragement like a plant needs water.” In other words, encouragement is essential. Children may not die without encouragement, but they certainly wither. Since encouragement is so essential, it would be good for parents to know exactly what encouragement means and how to do it. Let’s start with what encouragement is not.

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The Anger Wheel of Choice: Anger is Just a Feeling

When I was growing up, I didn’t know that anger is just a feeling. To me anger meant withdrawal of love. My mother didn’t tell me she was angry. She just wouldn’t speak to me for days. However, she did “speak” loud and clear with the look of disgust and disapproval on her face whenever she looked at me during those days of silence . My childlike mind twisted that to mean that people would stop loving me if I got angry.

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SILENT SIGNALS

Try a silent (secret) signal. (Kids love the secret part—especially when they have helped create it.) Creating silent signals can be part of “taking time for training” (another great tool card).

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Distract and Redirect

Children under the age of three do not understand “no” in the way most parents think they do. (And a full understanding of “no” doesn’t occur magically when the child turns three. It is a developmental process.) “No” is an abstract concept that is in direct opposition to the developmental need of young children to explore their world and to develop their sense of autonomy and initiative.

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Show Faith

One of the biggest mistakes some parents and teachers make, when they decide to do Positive Discipline, is becoming too permissive because they don’t want to be punitive. Some mistakenly believe they are being kind when they rescue their children, and protect them from all disappointment. This is not being kind; it is being permissive. Being kind means to be respectful of the child and of yourself.

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Closet Listening

Have you ever tried talking with your children only to be frustrated by one word, unenthusiastic, totally bored responses? Many parents become discouraged when they ask their children, “How was your day?” and their children say, “Fine.” Then they ask, “What did you do today?” The response is, “Nothing.” Try closet listening.

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Letting Go: Morning Hassles and Responsibility

"Jimmy, time to get up! C'mon, Jimmy, get up now! This is the last time I'm going to call you!"

Sound familiar? Mornings in Jimmy's home are much like mornings in other homes around the world—hectic, argumentative, and full of hassles. Jimmy has not learned to be responsible because Mom is too busy being responsible for him. It gets worse as the morning continues.

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Limit Screen Time

There was once a segment on Oprah in which families where challenged to give up electronics for a week, including TV. It was interesting to watch how difficult it was for parents, as well as their children, to give up all of their screens. One scene was particularly difficult to watch. A five-year-old boy could hardly stand it to give up playing video games. His temper tantrums were quite dramatic. His mother shared that she was embarrassed when she realized he had been playing video games for five hours a day. The good news was that after the whole family went through “media withdrawal,” they discovered how to replace screen time with family activities that increased their family closeness and enjoyment.

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Sense of Humor

No one ever said parenting had to be boring or unpleasant. Laughter is often the best way to approach a situation. Try saying, “Here comes the tickle monster to get children who don’t pick up their toys.” Learn to laugh together and to create games to get unpleasant jobs done quickly. Humor is one of the best (and most enjoyable) parenting tools.

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Control Your Behavior

The Positive Discipline Tool Card of "Control Your Behavior" is sometimes easier said than done. Have you ever lost control of your behavior with your children? Listen to the following audio excerpt from Building Self-Esteem Through Positive Discipline as I discuss a time when I completely lost control with my daughter.

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Online Learning

Positive Discipline offers online learning options for parents, teachers, and parent educators. Learn in the comfort of your own home and at your own pace. You have unlimited access to our online streaming programs, so you can watch and re-watch the videos as often as you like.

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