Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Teenager Lacking Motivation? Not Really!


I have a 19 year old son, who was fired from his job and just stopped going to community college twice. He was fired because instead of going to work, he stayed at his friend's birthday party. He spends his days at home in front of the computer, has no responsibilities except to take out the trash, which he does WHEN I ask him too. I just ordered your book on Positive Discipline for Teenagers and am hoping to find some answers because I'm quite concerned about his lack of motivation. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!




I'm going to give you a big hint. Your son does not lack motivation. He is totally motivated to continue living a life of luxury with out having to work for it or take any responsibility--because he can.

You will find a lot of help in Positive Discipline for Teenagers. You will learn how to stop enabling your son and start empowering him.

Jane Nelsen

Monday, December 24, 2007

Is Something Tougher than Positive Discipline Needed?


I am the mother of a 3yr old boy (his birthday is actually tomorrow) and he is also a student in my Montessori school. Over the year he has been at school we have had many challenges with me being "around" a lot and never really having that separation from me that other kids get. (I don't teach anymore but still sub sometimes in his class.) He recently turned a corner, seems to be doing well and is settling down. He is also very bright. He has a fantastic vocabulary and wonderful memory retention. He is independent and capable.

My question really is about Positive Discipline. We have practiced PD since he was born and have adjusted as needed based on his development. I wrote to you a while ago because he was biting and hitting. You suggested he is seeking attention and we followed your advice and the behavior stopped. (Thanks!) My problem is that sometimes I feel like he needs something tougher than P.D but then I know that the traditional ways don't work. He is just so wild sometimes I get really frustrated. (Is that just typical lack of impulse control?)

He usually does "annoying” things when he is very happy or likes someone a lot. We will be cuddling and suddenly he will head-butt me or he will be with a friend and out of the blue he will grab their work and make them cry. He seems like he is constantly seeking attention from everyone but he gets so much attention to start with!

I can't ignore him sometimes because I have to help solve the conflict with the other child. He has now taken to saying "sorrrrry" if he does something to me and I ignore the behaviour. Interestingly I always said to him, "Ask your friend how you can make him feel better" instead of insisting he apologize. He would reply" I don't want to; I just want to say sorry" As you can tell I am conflicted and frustrated! Please advise.


You bring up a trend that concerns me a lot lately. I get so many questions about children wanting too much undue attention, and about children who are behaving disrespectfully. Some of this is normal and developmentally appropriate, but what I’m hearing seems to go beyond what is normal. So I wonder what is going on. Some questions I’m asking:

Is there too much “over-parenting” going on—where children get way too much attention and never learn self-sufficiency? Are parents acting like “helicopter” parents who hover over every move and think they need to control every move, over-protect, rescue, fix?

Are children watching too much TV and learning too much violence?

Is some of this over-parenting due to a misunderstanding of Positive Discipline where people think that no punishment means permissiveness? Do they misunderstand the “kind” and “firm” foundation?

I want to talk more about kind and firm. I think that many parents think that kind means giving children everything they want. This is not kind to children at all. It teaches them to be demanding, spoiled brats. Kind might mean:

Saying, “I love you, and the answer is no.”

It could mean validating feelings, “I can see that you are very upset that you can’t have this right now.” Period—nothing more needs to be said or done.

It could mean simply allowing them to have their feelings while you provide energy of support without doing anything else.

It could mean being kind to yourself by kindly walking away and ignoring the behavior. (It is helpful if you let children know, in advance, that this is what you will do.

Kind could mean saying, “I have faith in you that you can handle this.” Then let them have their feelings of upset until they learn from experience that they can survive disappointment.
It could mean kind and firm action: taking a child who is misbehaving in a public place to the car and sitting quietly reading a book while he or she has a temper tantrum before trying again. (Again, let them know in advance that you will do this, adding, “You can let me know when you are ready to try again.)

It could mean sharing your anger without blaming the child. “I’m so angry right now, I can’t talk about this. I’m going to take some time-out until I can feel better before discussing this. And then leave.

I could be action without words. Taking a child by the hand and leading him or her to what needs to be done. To avoid a power struggle, use the see saw method. This means that when ever the child resist, instead of pulling, you keep hold of his hand but let him pull you. When he stops pulling, start moving again until he resists and repeat as above. The kind part is to keep a friendly attitude while being firm about what needs to be done.

Actually, I can see that all of these examples include the firmness part along with the kindness part.

If I got a head butt, I would say, “That hurt and makes me very angry,” and would then leave the room. Or, I might take the child by the hand and say, “Let’s go sit in the car (or your room) until you are ready to be respectful.”

When he makes another child cry, I would hold him on my lap and say, “What do you need to do to fix that?” If he said, “Sorry,” I would say, “I appreciate that, AND, what do you need to fix it.” If he resists, I would say, “We’ll just sit her until you figure it out. Let me know if you need some ideas.” Give him some time to calm down. Most of us can’t think of anything rational when we are upset and are accessing the fight flight part of our brains.

I hope this helps.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dethroned 5-year-old won't let baby nap

I absolutely love the Positive Discipline 5 CD set. I feel that if I can do some of the things that are on your CDs that it will change our family's lives. I have been so passionate about this new way of parenting that I actually got my husband to listen to them.
My favorite thing you say is to get excited about a mistake, so that we and our kids can learn from it. Thank you so much for making me fell empowered as a parent. Now if we can only get this thinking into the public school system.

I do have a question. I have a 5-year-old son and three-month-old daughter. My son seems to have adapted fairly well to the new addition but there is one major problem. Every time he sees her napping he will scare her to wake her up. She gets absolutely hysterical, so he gets the reaction that he wants. I do not know what to do. We live in a small 1927 home so the only room that has locks is the bathroom, otherwise, I would just lock her in the room, although, I still think he would find a way to wake her up.

Thank you, Tanya


Hi Tanya, I think you are experiencing a classic case of "dethronement." I'm sure your son loves his baby sister—with mixed feelings. He also sees her as a threat to his place in your heart and isn't sure how to handle this. He isn't even consciously aware of the confusion he is feeling. It goes something like this:

Children are constantly making decisions about how to find belonging and significance in their world. Typically, first born children subconsciously decide that they belong when they are "first" and "best." When another baby is born their world gets turned upside down because, from their perception, the newborn is being treated as first and best. That is how they interpret all the time and attention given to the new baby.

When children "believe" they don't belong, they choose one of the four mistaken goals of behavior (taught by Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs) of Undue Attention, Misguided Power, Revenge, or Assumed Inadequacy as a mistaken way to find belonging. (Mistaken goal behavior is covered very thoroughly in Positive Discipline.)

It looks as though your little guy has chosen power because he is showing you that you can't make him stop waking her up. It could be "revenge" ("How could you be so mean as to bring another baby into my world to take my place?") Your feelings are the first clue to your child's mistaken goal—as you will see when you study the mistaken goal chart in the books.
What to do? I have several suggestions.

1. Get into his world just to understand. You would probably feel the same if you were in his shoes.
2. Read the following "Candle Story" and then use candles to represent your family and do the same thing with him. (You can see a video of me doing the candle demonstration by going to

Using Candles to Deal with the Belief Behind the Behavior

There is a belief behind every behavior, but we usually only deal with the behavior. Dealing with the belief behind the behavior does not mean you don't deal with the behavior. You are most effective when you are aware of both the behavior and the belief behind it.

The following is a classic example of the belief behind a behavior. Suppose you have a five-year-old boy whose mother goes off to the hospital and brings home a brand-new baby. What does the five-year-old see going on between Mom and the baby? -- Time and attention. What does he interpret that to mean? -- Mom loves the baby more than me. What does the five-year-old do in an attempt to get the love back? -- He may act like a baby himself and cry a lot, ask for a bottle, and soil his pants. Or, he may decide to get attention, power, or revenge by waking her up from naps and upsetting the baby and Mom.

Wayne Freiden and Marie Hartwell Walker have created songs Family Songs,  that help adults get into the world of children and understand the beliefs they could be dealing with based on their birth order. Their songs include seven different birth order positions. Following is one verse from the song, Number One:

Oh it's hard to be number one.
And lately it's just no fun at all.
Life was so nice, when there were three,
Mommy and Daddy and Me.
And now there's another.
And I don't like it one bit.
Send it back to the hospital
And let's just forget about it.

Four-year-old Becky, who could identify with this song. Becky was feeling dethroned by the birth of a baby brother, and was experiencing confusion about her feelings for the baby. Sometimes she loved him, and other times she wished he had never been born because Mom and Dad spend so much time with him. She didn't know how to get attention for herself, except to act like the baby.

One evening, when the baby was asleep, Becky's mom sat down at the kitchen table with her daughter and said, "Honey, I would like to tell you a story about our family." She had four candles of varying lengths. "These candles represent our family." She picked up one long candle and said, "This is the mommy candle. This one is for me." She lit the candle as she said, "This flame represents my love." She picked up another long candle and said, "This candle is the daddy candle." She used the flame from the mommy candle to light the daddy candle and said, "When I married your daddy, I gave him all my love--and I still have all my love left." Mom placed the daddy candle in a candle holder. She then picked up a smaller candle and said, "This candle is for you." She lit the smaller candle with the flame from her candle and said, "When you were born, I gave you all my love. And look. Daddy still has all my love and I still have all my love left." Mom put that candle in a candle holder next to the daddy candle. Then she picked up the smallest candle and, while lighting it from the mommy candle, said, "This is a candle for your baby brother. When he was born I gave him all my love. And look -- you still have all my love. Daddy has all my love. And I still have all my love left because that is the way love Is. You can give it to everyone you love and still have all your love left. Now look at all the light we have in our family with all this love."

Mom then asked Becky if she would like to use her candle to light the other candles, so she could see how she could give all her love away and still have all her love. Becky was excited to try this. Mom snuffed the flame on all the candles except Becky's, and then helped her pick up each candle and hold it over the flame of her candle until it was lit. Becky's eyes were shining almost as brightly as the flame of the candles.

Mom gave Becky a hug and said, "Does this help you understand that I love you just as much as I love your baby brother?"

Becky said, "Yes, and I can love lots of people just the same."

What happens to us is never as important as the beliefs we create about what happens to us. Our behavior is based on those beliefs, and the behavior and beliefs are directly related to the primary goal of all people -- to feel that we belong and are important.

Mom had learned to deal with the belief behind Becky's misbehavior.

3) Set up a special time with him for at least 10 minutes a day that he can count on. Your daughter's nap time might be a good time. During this time you can do whatever you would both enjoy. Then when he asks for your attention and you are too busy, you can say, "Honey, I can't right now, but I sure am looking forward to our special time at 2:00." Of course you will spend much more time with him during the day, but there is a psychological bonus to having "special time."

4) Start having regular family meetings with him so he can use his personal power to brainstorm for solutions to problems—thus developing a sense of his capability. (The fifth CD of the Positive Discipline Workshop you purchased contains an eBook on Family Meetings). One of the first problems you can get him to solve is how to help you have some special time for yourself after spending special time with him when the baby first starts napping. My guess is that he will feel motivated to follow a plan he helps create.

5) Let him have his feelings. There is a difference between what children do and what they feel. Feelings are always okay. What they do is not always okay. "I can see that you are angry, and I really need your help with the baby's naps." (If his mistaken goal is misguided power, this gives him an opportunity to use his power in useful ways.)

6) Help him identify his feelings. There is a feelings poster that can be downloaded. This poster can be used by asking your son to see if he can find a face that represents what he is feeling.

7) Your attitude will help a lot. Hopefully, understanding what he is going through will help you engage with him with self-confidence and encouragement.

A new theme for Positive Discipline is "Connection before Correction." All of the suggestions I have given you help create a connection (so he will feel belonging and significance) before you attempt correction in ways that respectfully involve him to redirect his behavior in contributing ways.

I was so impressed when I heard Toni Morrison say, "Do your eyes light up when you children walk into the room?" What could be more encouraging? Remember, a misbehaving child is a discouraged. All of the suggestion I have given you can be very encouraging.

Hoping this helps,

Jane Nelsen

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Toys: Overindulgence or an Opportunity for Effective Parenting

by Jane Nelsen, Author and co-author of the Positive Discipline Series, from the book Parents Who Love Too Much

Every Christmas, advertising creates a shortage for the latest toy rage. Remember the year it was Furbys? (That was the "good old days, when a popular toy was $29 to $59. Now they cost iPods, xBoxes, iPhones —items that cost hundreds of dollars.) And what do parents do? Anything they can to make sure their little darling is not deprived. They get up at 4:00 a.m. to stand in line at a toy store with a limited supply, or they pay 10 times the retail price to scalpers who advertise on Internet auctions or in local newspapers.

Parents to stop and think about the long-term results of what they do. What happens when they want and all-terrain bike or a new sports car convertible? When parents are indulgent and satisfy every demand, what are they teaching their children?

1. If you want it, you should have it — now.
2. Let materialism control your life.
3. Don't evaluate advertising commercials. Just do whatever they suggest.
4. You can't deal with disappointment in life — and I'll make sure you don't have to.

When parents overindulge, children are not deprived of the toy, but they are deprived of an opportunity to learn valuable life lessons. When parents avoid over indulgence, children can learn:

1. What I feel is always okay, but what I do is not always okay. I can learn to feel what I feel, and then to evaluate what can be done.
2. It is okay to want, but I don't "have" to have.
3. I can deal with disappointment. I may not like it, but I will survive.
4. When a goal is worth pursuing, I can help create a plan to achieve the goal that involves my participation: to save my allowance, to do odd jobs to earn money, etc.
5. My parents will listen to me, but they won't indulge me.
6. My parents have faith in me to deal with life problems and opportunities.
7. I am capable.

There are several parenting skills parents can use to help children learn these important life lessons. The first is reflective listening.

Reflective Listening

Reflective listening means to listen without fixing. Validate your child's feelings by reflecting back everything she says until she feels understood. You can avoid sounding like a parrot by reflecting the feelings you are hearing as well as the words.

Child: "I want a Furby."
Parent: "You would really like to have a Furby."

You might be surprised how often this is enough, especially with younger children. The older children get, the longer the conversation might last.

Child: "Furby is so cute."
Parent: "You really like this toy."
Child: "Everyone is getting one."
Parent: "You think all your friends and everyone else will have one."

If reflective listening doesn't seem to be enough, you might try asking curiosity questions. This can help your child enhance her thinking and problem-solving skills; and can leave her with the feeling and belief, "I am capable."

Curiosity Questions.

What, why, and how questions are "curiosity questions" and should not be asked unless you curious about what your child thinks instead of using the questions to manipulate your child to think like you think. Your attitude and tone of voice are the keys to effectiveness with this parenting tool.

Child: "I want a Furby."
Parent: "Why do you want one?" (Children are very suspicious of "why" questions unless they perceive that you are really interested in their answer.)
Child: "Because they are cute and everyone is getting one."
Parent: "How do you know that?"
Child: "I saw one on TV, and everyone is talking about them."
Parent: "Lots of toys are cute. What do you think has made this one so special?"
Child, after a pause to think about it: "Maybe because of all the advertising, or maybe because everyone says they are so hard to find."
Parent: "What is the purpose of advertising?"
Child: "To make people buy things."
Parent: "Can advertisers 'make' people do things? Can they control people?"
Child: "They can't control me."

Of course, this conversation could go as many directions as there are children. One child concluded, "Last year Tickle Me Elmo was hard to find. Now they are lots cheaper. I think I'll wait til next year to get a Furby."

Brainstorming for Solutions that Involve the Child

Another child concluded what and how questions with, "They can't make me buy one, but I still want one." His father then engaged his son in a brainstorming session to help him figure out what he needed to do to get one. After brainstorming several possibilities, he decided he would find extra jobs to earn the money and then get his 23 year old aunt to stand in a line with him.
It would not be helpful for a parent to say, "If you want this toy, get a job and buy it yourself." Brainstorming is effective only when the child is very actively involved in the process and then chooses the suggestion that would work best for him.

Decide What You Will Do and What You Won't Do

Too many parents have forgotten how to use this very important tool. They act as though they should feel guilty if they aren't willing to spend more than they can afford, or feel guilty about saying no when they can afford it. In either case, they make the mistake of overindulgence.
Considering the negative long-range results, it is important to avoid overindulgence. It is important to decide what you will and won't do and then to kindly, firmly, and respectfully inform your children of your decisions. If they get angry or disappointed, use reflective listening to validate their feelings. This may be more difficult for you than it is for your child.

In many ways it is much easier for parents to just buy the toy (over indulgence). This is usually done in the name of love. Most parents don't want their children to "suffer." It might help if you remember that they will suffer even more during their adult lives if they believe they should have everything they want —now. Overindulgence is a very unloving thing to do to children. When parents overindulge their children they are choosing ease instead of an opportunity to help their children learn important life skills and develop important self-esteem concepts such as, "I am capable, self-reliant, a good thinker, and a good problem-solver."

Monday, December 17, 2007

3 ½-year-old Tantrums


I just entered the world of Positive Discipline and I love it. I feel like I can be a really great mother-even more than I already am.

I feel challenged with my 3 ½ year old! He is very specific about things. If he gets something in his mind, it must be that way, or he cries, sometimes until he falls asleep (up to an hour of crying)! For example, if I walk off the sidewalk to get somewhere faster, I get a tantrum. If I flush the toilet-not him–tantrum. If I get a spoon for breakfast–tantrum.

 Even more is when he wants me to do something a specific way, like picking up his shoes; he will stand 2 inches from the shoes and cry for me to get them while I’m holding the baby, a bag and we’re standing in the rain! This is so frustrating because I know he can do it. Is it right for me to be strict and expect him to do these things (my way)? How do I get him to want to do it himself? Is this just a phase because I have even looked up OCD online?

Am I right in understanding the only ways to help calm tantrums are Sympathizing, Ignoring and Hugs? Ignoring and sympathizing cause a tantrum to last even longer. Hugs work, but what if I’m driving, do I pull over? And will they work every time? I know you can’t answer that, but what I mean is if you use hugs all the time, does the child catch on and think, “I know what she’s doing and it isn’t going to work this time? Or do they just love the extra love.

Thank you for a new outlook to parenting. I am really excited to be a more loving mom-all the time, not just when we’re laughing. J


Dear J,

I’m getting a lot of questions with this theme, so I have to wonder what is going on. Not that it hasn’t always been a theme. I know that my seven children all wanted what they wanted when they wanted it. It just seems to me that the persistence is stronger in children today. I have a hunch that it is because their persistence works.

I keep wondering if parents are just a little too child centered these days. As you know, I believe that children should be treated with dignity and respect, but I think it is easy to go to extremes. For example, I think it is very sad when adults cause children to suffer through punishment, guilt, and shame. On the other hand, I think it is sad when parents don’t “allow” children to suffer.

There is a huge difference. When adults cause children to suffer, they impose punishments or guilt and shame. When they don’t “allow” children to suffer it is because they rescue, over-protect, or fix every problem. This robs children of developing their disappointment muscles. It robs them of learning that they can survive upset and end up learning resiliency and feeling capable. Allowing children to suffer doesn’t mean to be mean. Parents can be very supportive when a child is suffering. They can validate feelings, “I can see this is very hard for you.” They can hold a child on their lap for comfort, without saying a word. They can show faith in the child to handle problems—even when it is difficult. Sometimes showing faith is shown in your energy, not in anything you do.

Now, let’s see how this applies to your question. Here are some suggestions:

Let him have his feelings without thinking you need to rescue him or make him change his feelings. This can be difficult, but it will show in your energy even if you don’t do anything.
Validate his feelings. Try to mirror what he is feeling. “I can see that you are really angry.”

You know how much I like hugs. If he is willing, just give him a hug. The purpose is not to take away his feelings, but to give support as long as he needs it. Listen to a podcast on this theme The Power of a Hug.

Use your sense of humor. “Eeeeeek. I made a huge mistake when I flushed the toilet.”
He may be old enough to create his own positive time out (which is nothing like the naughty chair). You can also create a positive time out plan for yourself and let him know in advance when you will use it.

I am now working on a new theme for Positive Discipline that I think will take it to new levels. That theme is “Connection before Correction.” There is so much research that shows that we can’t really influence children is a positive way until we create a connection with them. Punishment does not create a connection, nor do lectures, nagging, scolding, blaming or shaming. So what does?

Before sharing effective way to create a connection with children, I want to point out that it is a mistake to think that giving children whatever they want is a good way to make a connection. Rescuing, fixing, and over-protecting are not good ways to make a connection. Effective connections are made when both child and adult feel belonging and significance--even though it is the adult who takes the first step.

Some of these steps to connection have already been mentioned in the suggestions above. I’ll repeat them here for this context:

  • Listening. Really listening—giving a child your full attention
  • Validating feelings.
  • Sharing your feelings when appropriate. Remember that children will listen to you AFTER they feel listened to.
  • Focusing on solutions WITH children after a cooling off period.
  • Taking time for respectful training during calm times.
  • Asking curiosity questions to help children explore the consequences of their choices instead of imposing consequences on them.
  • Teaching valuable life skills that help children feel capable. Just one example is helping them create their own positive time out space and creating routine charts with them, not for them.
  • Having faith in children to handle their own problems. (Offering support through validating feelings or just giving a hug, but not rescuing or fixing.)
  • Spending special time with children.
  • Hugs.

Now to discuss correction. It is very important to understand that correction the Positive Discipline way is very different from conventional correction. The biggest difference is that conventional correction usually involves punishment (punitive time-out, grounding, and taking away privileges being the most common). In other words, conventional correction consists of adults doing something TO children. Positive Discipline correction consists of the many tools presented in all of the Positive Discipline books that show parents and teachers how to do correction that respectfully involves children whenever possible. It is interesting to note that all of the steps for connection also work for correction. They are things adults do WITH children, not TO or FOR children.

Other methods for correction, to name just a two, are family and class meetings and joint problem-solving. These are very powerful tools that respectfully involve children to learn and use their personal power in contributing ways. As you learn about the many Positive Discipline tools, notice that they are all designed to create a connection before respectful correction.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cries at Preschool



I have a 4.5 year old boy and he refuses to go to school. Actually it's a day-care program that's run by 2 of my best friends so I know it's a safe and loving environment. I enrolled him for 3 afternoons a week to socialize with other children his age and also to prepare him for kindergarten in the fall. He's never had issues with leaving us or being on his own until day-care. I am now attending day-care with him in order to help him feel safe and hopefully make it his decision to stay but this is costly because on top of the cost for school I am paying for a sitter for my other son at home.

I don't know which direction to take this. My concern is him becoming overly dependent on me— somehow stunting his independence and social skills. We tried forcing him to go and just dropping him off at the door and it was horrible for everyone involved. He cried and screamed for the entire time —which was disruptive for all of the other students and so traumatizing for us and him. It made him even more clingy and needy then I've ever seen before.

I just want to know what the best approach is for him. Should I just drop him off and hope that eventually the screaming will stop? (We tried this for 2 weeks of hell.) Should I invest the time and money to go with him and hope he'll do it himself? Should I pull him out all together and Just start all over in Kindergarten.

Please him me help my child.

Thank-you Susan.


Dear Susan, This is a tough one because it is so difficult to know what is going on with him. Have you asked him? You could make some guesses and he'll let you know if you are right or wrong. For example, "Are you afraid of something at school? Are you worried that I won't come back? Do you miss me? Are you trying to show me that you are the boss and that I can't make you do anything?" (This last question will make more sense if you have read any Positive Discipline book about Mistaken Goals of Behavior.) "Has someone hurt your feelings?"

One guess we can make is that he is feeling "dethroned" by "your other son" at home. If you get into his world, can you imagine that he may think that he is being "shoved" away from Mom while his little brother gets to say home with Mom? In his mind, this could mean that you love his little brother more than him. Sometimes it is best to deal with the "belief behind the behavior" rather than the behavior —remembering that beliefs don't necessarily represent the truth, nor are they rational. Go to and click on " Video excerpt of Keynote address. "The belief behind the behavior." to see how one mother used candles to demonstrate her love for everyone in the family.

Once you have helped him understand your unconditional love, get him involved in working on a solution that works for both of you. It is true that he may be becoming dependent on you, so you need to find ways to help him feel more independent and capable. One way is getting him involved in solutions. Let him know why you want him to go to school--so he'll be ready for Kindergarten. Then ask him for some ideas to accomplish this goal? You might be surprised at his ideas. Brainstorm with him and write down all the suggestions. You can also make some suggestions and put them on the list. Then go over the list and choose one that works for both of you. I do not advocate forcing him. Get him involved in deciding how much time he needs before he will be ready to try again. Have faith in him to work this out--with your help and understanding. It is possible that he will be more ready by Fall.

Meanwhile, start having regular family meetings so he can learn to focus on solutions to problems--helping him feel more capable. There are many other things you can do that will help. Have you listened to some of my podcasts. I think you would especially enjoy the last one called "Workshop Results". Go to and scroll down the left side to free podcasts.

Also, you might enjoy my new 5 CD set, "The Positive Discipline Workshop: How to Be the Parent You Always Wanted to Be while Helping Your Children Feel Capable, Confident, and Competent." The 5th CD includes many podcasts, an activity/resource book, and the Family Meeting Album with many tips and printable pages for having successful family meetings.

I want to end my telling you a personal story. When I was six-years-old, I went into the First Grade. I didn't get the teacher I wanted (the one I had loved so much in Kindergarten). I'm not sure if I was being a spoiled brat or what, but I remember becoming very fearful that we would get locked in our partial basement classroom. When the teacher would close the windows, I would start to cry. It might have helped if my teacher had held me on her lap and simply comforted me. Instead she sat me on her lap and shamed me--calling me a baby. I just cried harder until she put me in the hall. I just walked home (after playing in the park until school was out). My mother was called. She handled it so well that I overcame my irrational fear. All she did was come and sit in the classroom with me for a day--and she had me give the teacher a rose. I don't remember any feelings of shame, just loving support. I'm sure this memory is not completely accurate, but it is what I remember--and I know my fears disappeared and I was fine from then on.

I don't tell you this story to imply that this is what would work with you son. I know you have already stayed with him. My point is that children often develop irrational beliefs. Even if adults can't figure out what is going on, gentle support and encouragement is the best way to help a child overcome whatever is going on.

I wish you the best.

Jane Nelsen