Monday, August 27, 2018

Parenting Pointers: Positive Discipline for Today's Busy (and Overwhelmed) Parent

Raising children, while one of life’s most rewarding experiences, is also one of the most complicated. Regardless of whether you are a full-time parent or working in or out of your home, balancing your job, parenting, and self-care is one of the biggest challenges you face.  I had a chance to review  Positive Discipline for Today’s Busy (and Overwhelmed) Parent. This user-friendly guide that gives parents the tools they need to parent effectively without sacrificing their well-being or giving up on their life goals.
I enjoyed reading the book. There were specific examples of positive discipline in action, as well as more general guidelines that can be incorporated in a variety of situations. The book was very well-written, practical and easy to incorporate into most family structures.
I had a chance to interview the authors to learn more.
What are the origins of the Positive Discipline methodology and how you became involved with it?
PD is based on the grounded philosophy of Alfred Adler, the grandfather of Individual Psychology.  In a nutshell Adler taught that all human beings (including children) deserve to be treated with human dignity and respect.  He taught about the importance of social interest and the need for all human beings to feel belonging(connection)and significance(contribution/purpose). 

Joy: I was introduced to PD 13 years ago (8 years into my teaching career).  At the time, I was teaching in Rikers Island (a Jail just off Manhattan in NYC).  When I say that PD saved my life I mean it.  I was teaching felony criminals and I was the only teacher that didn’t have armed guards in her classroom.  This was a risk but it was the only way I could establish an environment of mutual respect (connecting before correcting).  I was also one of the only teachers that never had a fight break out in her classroom.

Jane: I wanted to be a good mother and didn't know how. I took a class in child development and a university and was lucky enough to have a professor who said, "I'm not going to teach you a bunch of theories, but just one (Adler/Dreikurs) that will help children learn self-discipline, responsibility, capability, and problem-solving skills. It worked so well for me with my 5 children (2 more came later) that I wanted to share what I learned with other.

How is Positive Discipline different from other parenting methodologies?
There are two kinds of parenting programs: Those that depend on external motivation (punishment and rewards) that seem to work temporarily (will lead to more Discouragement thus more misbehavior); and those (like Positive Discipline) that teach an internal source of motivation (Encouragement)—to do the right thing when no one is looking. Positive Discipline focuses on the belief behind the behavior, not just the observable behavior. Think of an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg represents the behavior. The biggest part of the iceberg represents the belief behind the behavior. Just as the tip of the iceberg would not exist with the base, the behavior would not exist without the belief behind the behavior. For example: If a child is whining we do not look at the whining as the problem and try to correct it by comments such as “Why are you whining? Stop it.” Instead we would try to understand the belief behind the whining--which usually has to do with a mistaken belief about how to experience belonging and significance (two basic human needs according to Alfred Adler). A Positive Discipline parent would instead try a number of tools to connect with the child before correcting (for example ask for a hug, validate their feelings, or show empathy).  The parent would then get to the underlying cause for the behavior for example by engaging the child in a dialogue to understand why the child is feeling discouraged. As Rudolf Dreikurs said, “A misbehaving child is a discouraged child.”

What are some quick wins parents can focus on?
Help children feel capable and responsible by involving them as early as possible in life and home management. Through using routine charts and family meetings where they learn to focus on solutions children will learn valuable social and life skills. We believe that you should never do for a child what they can do for themselves with plenty of training of course to give them a chance to learn the skills. Remember age appropriate behavior-check that you are not expecting your child to engage in a level of complex thinking and decision making that they are not ready for to make sure you don’t expect too much. And always check your own behavior. Your modeling is your child’s greatest teacher.

What is wrong with praise and rewards? And what are some alternatives?
One problem is that they "work." Kids love both praise and rewards and will often behave better to receive them. But what are they teaching your children long-term? They are learning to "behave" well to receive validation from someone else. This is called "external" control. What happens when those others are not around? The kids lack a strong sense of "self" and an internal locus of control --to do the right thing when no one is looking because it feels good. The alternative is encouragement.  Encouragement strengthens connection and invites the child to feel capable.  It teaches valuable character and life skills. Praise would sound like this, “I’m so proud of you.  Or All A’s you get a big reward.”  Whereas encouragement would sound like this, “You must be really proud of yourself.  Or you worked hard you deserve it.”  This doesn’t mean you can never tell your child you’re proud of him or her, but praise it like candy, a little bit it ok but too much in unhealthy.  And it can create “approval junkies.”

Jane Nelsen, EDD, founder of Positive Discipline and coauthor of the bestselling Positive Discipline series, is a licensed marriage, family, and child therapist and an internationally known speaker. Her books have sold more than two million copies worldwide.
Kristina Bill is active across the fields of business, arts, and personal development. She holds a business degree and is a certified Life Coach and Positive Discipline Parent Educator. She is a highly sought-after corporate coach specializing in leadership and personal impact.
Joy Marchese, MA, CPDT, has worked as a trainer, teacher, and parent educator in various schools and corporate settings for over twenty years. In 2015, she launched Positive Discipline UK, spreading Positive Discipline across Europe and the Middle East.

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