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.
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.
What does it mean to have faith in students? It doesn’t mean abandoning students to figure out everything for themselves. It means having more faith in how much they can handle, even if it means they have to struggle.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
If you can’t stand to stay out of your children’s fights, and decide to become involved, the most effective way is to put your children in the same boat. Do not take sides or try to decide who is at fault. Chances are you wouldn’t be right, because you never see everything that goes on.