Blog

Connection Before Correction

The one Positive Discipline Tool I wish I had used more consistently is this: Connection before Correction. Of course, I didn't know what this meant as a young mother, and didn't create it as a Positive Discipline tool until about five years ago. Now we know it is just brain science: children learn (grow, feel safe, thrive) best when they feel connection—or as Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs taught us, "a sense of belonging and significance".

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The Importance of Connection

"You have to reach the heart before you can reach the head." I first heard this statement while reading an article about Carter Bayton in a September, 1991 issue of Life Magazine. Carter Bayton was asked to work with thirteen 2nd grade boys who were considered so disruptive that they couldn't make in it a "regular" classroom. After six months of working with these boys they were doing so well that they challenged the "regular" class to a math contest and won. Carter found many ways to be effective with his students, but said the foundation was to reach their hearts before he could reach their minds.

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Encouragement vs Praise for Teachers

So, what is the difference between encouragement and praise? Praise teaches dependency on external feedback (I'm “okay” if you like what I do, and I feel badly if you don't like what I do), while encouragement teaches internal validation, (I use self-evaluation to determine how I feel about what I do).

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Encouragement vs Praise

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 what encouragement means and how to do it. Let’s start with the difference between praise and encouragement. It would be helpful to download the file "Differences Between Praise and Encouragement".

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Things Often Get Worse Before They Get Better

Remember this point so that you won’t become discouraged. Children quite often don’t trust that adults are really willing to listen to them and take them seriously. It may take some time for them to get used to this. At first they may try to use this new power to be hurtful and punishing, because this is the model they have been used to.

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One Word

Avoid lecturing and nagging. Use one word as a kind reminder.

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The Power of Nonverbal Communication

Adults and children express emotional energy on their faces, in their voices, and in the way they move or stand. Because children are still developing their language skills, they trust the message of this nonverbal communication far more than they do mere words.

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Limited Choices

Offering limited choices instead of making demands can be very effective. Children often respond to choices when they will not respond to demands, especially when you follow the choice with, "You decide." Choices should be respectful and should focus attention on the needs of the situation.

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Limited Choices Teacher Tool

Many difficult problems seem easier to solve when choices are presented as solutions. As the teacher, you can help your students succeed by offering an appropriate choice between at least two acceptable solutions. The key words here are appropriate and acceptable.

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Decide What You Will Do For Teachers

There is so much focus in Positive Discipline on getting students involved in solutions, validating their feelings, asking them questions, understanding their behavior, connecting with them, and so on. Do you ever wonder, “What about me?”

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