Monday, March 31, 2008

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

Question:
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

Answer:
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 http://janenelsen.com/video.html

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 Ed.D
http://www.positivediscipline.com/

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

MORNING POWER STRUGGLES (AGAIN)

QUESTION:

Hi Jane,

We’ve emailed before, and I have implemented many of your techniques, although I seem to forget them at times and at those times, things usually go south quickly. This morning, for instance, I told my 3 1/2 year old that if she could not be responsible and act like a big girl by brushing her teeth, she would not be able to participate in soccer today, which is the first day of many over the coming weeks. She refused to brush her teeth, crossed her arms and said “no!” She also calmly chose to not go to soccer and not brush her teeth. I ended up furious, leaving the room and she seemed unaffected in my absence – just sat there and doddled until I came back and yelled at her and made her brush her teeth. In retrospect, I know I contributed to this behavior, at least in part, by helping her this morning more than usual (doing too much because I am sick today and wanted to just get it done, when I know she is fully capable) and most likely making her wonder if I would go ahead and brush her teeth for her as well - I am sure she was testing me. I felt bad about taking the soccer away since I cannot tell if I disguised a punishment as a natural consequence or not (I told her that soccer if for responsible big girls, and if she could behave that way, there was no way she could participate – it seems relevant, but I am not so sure now), so when we tried to work something out (my husband actually – on his way taking her to school), she said that mommy said she could not go to soccer today…so maybe she doesn’t really want to participate – I just can’t tell, and I don’t know what to do now…any suggestions? She attends a Montessori school, if that has any relevance.

Thanks Jane!

Misty

ANSWER:

Hi Misty,

I feel your pain. All mothers, including me, have engaged in a power struggle with a child not much taller than our kneecaps. How do we ever fool ourselves that we can "win" such a battle? We have to admire the fact that these little ones refuse to have their personal power taken away from them. We are wise when we try to help them use their power in constructive ways instead of trying to take it away from them and then wonder why they go into misguided power or revenge and defeat us every time.

I hope you are willing to hear that you orchestrated a power struggle and put your daughter in a situation where she had to "lose" or "win." Again, we have all been there--especially when we feel sick or rushed. I don't know if she wants to play soccer or not, but even if she does--it is not worth it to her if she has to "lose" to gain the privilege. Your situation demonstrates how adults can be determined to win a power struggle even if it means humiliating children by telling them they are irresponsible and "not a big girl."

Taking away privileges is punishment--in case you are still in dobut. :-)

What if you dropped your need to "win" and make her "lose," and focused on helping her feel capable (instead of small and irresponsibile) by making a connection and then focusing on solutions. I suggest you apologize to her and then try some of the following.

1) Let her create a morning routine chart that includes pictures of her doing each task.
2) Let the routine chart be the boss. If you say anything it might be, "What is next on your routine chart."

Other possibilities are:

3) Appeal to her desire to help. "I really need your help this morning? What do you need to do to get ready?"
4) Instead of "telling" her to brush her teeth, ask, "What do you need to do so your teeth won't feel skuzzy?"

Your attitude of invitation instead of challenge is a key component. Most children this age love to help when they feel it is their idea instead of a win/lose battle. Asking, instead of telling invites children to think and feel capable because it seems more like their choice than a command.

5) One way to diffuse a power struggle is to recognize what you are doing and stop. Name it. "Wow, it looks like we are in a power struggle and I can see what I'm doing to create it."
6) Validate her feelings. "I'll be it makes you mad when I boss you around. Can we start over and find a solution that is respectful to both of us?"

One more thing. A new theme for Positive Discipline is "Connection before Correction."

7) Try a hug before you do anything else. This is not "rewarding" the behavior. It is creating a connection before respectful correction. You will get the feeling of what I'm saying by going to
http://www.positivediscipline.com/podcast/
and listening to two free podcasts. #. 49 on "workshop results" and #39 on "the power of a hug."

As you know, all of these concepts are discussed in much greater detail in all of the Positive Discipline books.

I wish you the best to focus on connection and solutions.

Jane Nelsen

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Positive Discipline Books

I received an email from a person who wondered about the differences between the many Positive Discipline books. My guess is that many people have the same question so I created this very brief thumb nail description.

There is some overlap in all the Positive Discipline materials, but each book has more information that is related to the age or topic.

Both Positive Discipline Birth to Three and Positive Discipline for Preschoolers books include child development information. I was a Child Development instructor and a community college for ten years and wanted to include information that so many parents to not understand--and how this information relates to parenting. There is a big difference in the development of a two-year-old and a four-year-old. That is why we wrote the two books instead of including all the information in one book. When the books have similar information, they have different examples that are appropriate for the age.

Positive Discipline is the "foundation" book that is appropriate for school age children. It was significantly updated in 2006.

Positive Discipline A-Z is a great reference book where you can look up just about any behavior challenge you can think of and get several non-punitive suggestions and several suggestions for preventing the problem in the future. This book covers challenges of every age. By the time your children are 4-years-old, it can be fun to read the suggestions with them and get their help on deciding which solutions would work for everyone.

Many people think the CD programs bring the material "alive." The 5 CD Positive Discipline Workshop covers all ages.

Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World contains the life work of H. Stephen Glenn and goes into detail about how to help children develop strength in the Significant Seven Perceptions and Skills that insure they develop into Capable Young People and adults.

The other Positive Discipline books are self-explanatory in their focus such as Positive Discipline for Teenagers, Positive Discipline for Single Parents, and Positive Discipline for Parenting in Recovery.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Family Meeting Gone Bad

Question:

Hi Jane,

I was hoping you could help me out here.

In the beginning of Chapter 9 "Family Meetings" in your book "Positive Discipline" there is an example of a family who came up with a solution to things not being picked up, cleaned up, etc. They used a plan with a "safe deposit box" where anyone could pick up something left on the floor and put it in this box in the garage, where contents would be on hold for one week.

I have three children 14, 12, and 9. I planned a similar exercise with them. However, the exercise quickly became competitive and if one of the kids had taken off their shoes to watch TV and stepped out to go to the bathroom, another would seized the opportunity to make off with the shoes. For the next two days, I became the referee of minor infractions. such as, "does it count if I leave the room to go to the bathroom but am coming right back?" When I told them it was OK if you were going to the bathroom and coming right back, the rule started to be distorted and abused in several variations.

I told them several times that this was not meant to be a competitive, "get your sister/brother" game. The point was to hold your self and others accountable for leaving their stuff around the house. The kids were getting very upset with each other and with me (the referee).

I didn't see this one coming! Perhaps I shouldn't allow the children to put things into the "safe deposit box". What do you think?

Thanks, Mike

Answer:

Hi Mike,.

Thanks for asking. Rudolf Dreikurs used to say, "The solution for democracy that doesn't work is more democracy." I'm trying to read between the lines of your question and am just guessing about a few things, so I could be wrong. The first problem I see is that you say "you" planned a similar exercise for them. It would be okay if you suggested it, but plans always work better if kids choose it or agree to it. It would go something like this:

You would put the problem of picking things up on the family meeting agenda. Then the whole family would brainstorm for solutions. You might suggest a "deposit box." Then the kids (and you--a consensus) would choose which of the brainstormed solutions you all thought would work. If they chose the deposit box, and you agreed, you would all brainstorm for the rules to go along with it. For example, could anyone go get their stuff any time? Would they have to wait a week? Would they put a dime in the jar (for pizza later) when they got something out? Etc.

Then, when things go wrong and they ask you questions, you say, "I don't know. Put it on the agenda and we'll talk about it at our next family meeting." Then just let them deal with it until the next meeting. Leave the room so they can't get you involved.

You might put the problem of "competition" on the agenda and when it comes up at a meeting; ask the kids to help you understand what that is all about--and then listen. (It is so difficult for most parents, including me, to avoid those lectures.)

The fact that your kids are so competitive at this time is very normal--and is all the more reason to have regular family meetings to help them learn to focus on solutions that work for everyone. Remember that it takes time for kids to learn new skills and things often get worse before they get better. Give it some time and give me an update on how it goes. I wish you the best.

Jane Nelsen

www.positivediscipline.com

PS. Mike, I just checked Positive Discipline and found the points you missed

. The problem was shared in a family meeting. The children created the solution.
. Mom and Dad did not take over responsibility when problems arose in carrying out the family’s decision.
. The children enforced the rules because Mom and Dad stayed out of it.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Potty Training

Question:

I am a newcomer to Positive Discipline and am thoroughly enjoying the lessons I'm learning each day and week. I am the mother of a 2.5 year old girl and am expecting another baby in May. I am a stay at home mom, and my husband works out of the home, so we're both around all the time. My approach to parenting up to now has been a combination of a Mary Poppins "firm but fair" style and utilizing the same techniques my parents used with me which were consequential in nature – I've been using time outs and a light spank on the bottom in rare cases (which I am now eradicating from my "toolkit"). Whenever I discipline my daughter in any way, I always explain to her what I have deemed as inappropriate and I try to give her examples of more acceptable behaviour in the future. Any act of discipline is always wrapped with how much I love her - always.


About my current challenge – toilet training: I've read your past frequently asked questions, and I feel I have a behavioural versus physical issue to address. I believe it comes down to control. I am hoping that you can help diagnose that this is the case and prescribe some new approaches for helping correct the behaviour. Since she is 2.5 and we have a baby due just one month before she turns 3, I am a little worried about her regressing as well.


Here's a rundown on how we've approached toilet training thus far:



  • Bought her a potty when she was 20 months. She was showing interest and was able to listen and manage more than one or two tasks at a time. We introduced her to it and started with having her just sit on the potty when Mommy did, fully clad.
  • After a few months we had her sit on the potty without her pull-up or diaper at various times of the day. We'd read and sing while she sat on the potty. Often there was no result which was fine. Then on a few occasions there would be wee-wee. And immediately following there was a "hooray" dance and song as we celebrated her success.
  • In the months following her 2nd birthday we realized that she was opting to go in her diaper and was not asking to be changed. She was quite happy staying in a wet (even very wet) diaper. So, we bought big girl panties to hopefully make her more aware of the wetness and encourage her to not like being wet. We'd go through several panty changes a day. In that same time period, I noticed she was not comfortable at all with going poo-poo on the potty, so after lunch, I'd put her in a diaper to make sure she had her daily movement – otherwise, she would constipate herself. I thought – "let's just conquer wee-wee, then we can worry about poo-poo".
  • Then when she was 27 months, she started Nursery School 2 mornings a week. We started to regress because for a few mornings a week, she was in pull-ups and was quite happy to go back to her old habits versus requesting a visit to the potty (even after encouragement from her caretakers).
  • At this time, to try to encourage her to use the potty, we developed a "Success Chart" and monitored her track record with stickers and 1 gummy bear treat for each successful trip to the potty for wee-wee.
  • We started to see some success with the potty chart. So, we thought we'd ramp up the treat for doing poo-poos and we offered a trip to the ice cream shop if she did poops. (I was reticent to using bribery methods, but tried to think of it more as a positive incentive…). Then, out of the blue one day, she ran to the potty and made poo-poos. Boy, did we celebrate and congratulate her. That was the first and last time she did it.
  • When she hit 2.5, so did Christmas. And during the week or so with my family here, she really regressed. She didn't make an effort to get to the potty at all. We all chalked it up to it being an overwhelming time, though it was frustrating.
  • Now, at the beginning of '08, I feel like we're at the same point we were in the Summer months just following her 2 nd birthday. I really feel little progress has been made. On the rare occasion she requests to go to the potty at nursery school, which is a great step forward, but it's still occasional. We haven't again had a visit to the potty for #2s - and wee-wee accidents are frequent. Sometimes she'll just go wherever she is and then proudly announce that she made wee-wees (mind you, not on the potty). That said, she does make it to the potty once a day usually – and occasionally it can be up to 3 or 4 times in a day.


She is a very clever girl and my husband and I feel she is exercising control here. We believe she is very cognizant of what she's doing and that some of the wee-wees off the potty are intentional or it's simply a display of laziness… she just doesn't feel like going to the potty.


We are continuing to encourage and celebrate success, but we're getting very frustrated that there isn't improvement when we can see that she really does know what she's doing. My husband is beginning to feel like it's time to get firm with her. On a couple of past occasions he's tried to ask her why she didn't go to the potty versus just standing in the den or playroom to do it. She answers with "because I was playing, watching TV or just didn't want to". And on the "don't want to" theme. If we ask her to try to go to the potty, she refuses yelling "nooooooo!" and running away. If we try to make her, the rebellion escalates and we certainly don't want to turn this into a disciplinary seeming initiative for her. Similarly, when she's going to make poo-poo, she'll often say to me: "Do I have a diaper on?" And, I'll say… "yes, but let's go make poo-poo on the potty!" I'll sometimes mention the ice cream incentive as well. But it is often met with the same scream of "noooooo!"


Her nursery school is trying to help parents ramp up potty training so that the children will be fully trained by the time they come back in the Fall of '08 (all three year olds have to be out of diapers). I feel that I've tried every bit of advice found in the literature they've given me and everything I've read so far online. Some people have said, "oh, just wait for summer and keep her naked for a couple of days and then she'll have it down". Problem there is… she loves being naked (we have "naked playtime" every evening before bath where she just gets to streak around) and is quite happy to wee-wee anywhere without giving it a second thought.
Anyway – I feel we've tried lots of things and aren't making much progress.


Any advice is appreciated! Thank you!


Kind regards,

Jennifer

Answer:

Jennifer, Sorry, but I love it that your email proves everything I teach--that punishment and/or rewards are not effective motivators for long-term effects; that parents make way too big a deal out of potty training (which really means training themselves, not their children); that what worked in the good old days (parental control) does not work with children today (children no longer have models of submission--a good thing); that children will use their personal power one way or another--constructively or destructively--and the more parents try to control, the more children will rebel; that children really want to do what big people do (use the toilet) unless the only way they can gain a sense of power is to rebel against all the control. Kids eventually see through reward charts as just another way for parents to control them. If you read any of the Positive Discipline books, you'll learn that a primary purpose of our philosophy is to teach children self-discipline, self-control, cooperation, responsibility, problem-solving skills, and most important--to feel capable and to feel good when they make a respectful contribution in homes or classrooms. None of this occurs from punishment and rewards (which teach external locus of control) instead of internal locus of control.

By the way, you can expect severe regression when the new baby is born and your daughter experiences "dethronement." I don't have time to go into what these means, but it is normal and helps when parents understand it. Right now it seems to you that you'll have this problem forever, but, no matter how many times you hear it, you have no idea how quickly it passes. If you understood this, you would relax and many problems would disappear just because of your relaxation. You will benefit so much by reading some of the Positive Discipline books and/or listening to the CDs. For now, I'm including an excerpt from Positive Discipline A-Z on potty training. I know you have already done some of these things, but with an attitude of control rather than inviting cooperation. My new theme for success is "Connection before Correction." Listen to free podcast Nos. 49 and 39 and on http://www.positivediscipline.com/

Potty Training from Positive Discipline A-Z by Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott


"I hear so many conflicting ideas about toilet training. What is the positive discipline way?"
Understanding Your Child, Yourself, and the Situation

Toilet training has become an issue that is blown out of proportion in our society. It can be the origin of feelings of guilt and shame, power struggles, revenge cycles, bids for undue attention, and competition between friends to see whose child is potty trained first. If you simply don't worry about it, your children will become toilet trained in due time just because they will soon want to copy what everyone else does. However, if you are still having challenges with children over the age of three and it isn't a medical or sexual abuse problem (see sexual abuse), you may have helped create a potty power struggle.

Suggestions

Wait until after your child is two-and-a-half years old before you even start toilet training--unless he begs to start sooner. If your child trains himself sooner, lucky you. Notice the words "trains himself". When most parents say my child is "potty trained," what they really mean is, "I'm potty trained. I'm trained to remind and nag and to catch him looking like he is ready. I'm trained to hand out the M&Ms and to put stars on his chart every time he pees or poops in the toilet."

When introducing your child to toilet training, get a small potty chair that he can manage by himself. At first let him sit on it for as long or short a period of time he wants without having to do anything. He may enjoy having a stack of books to read by his potty.

During warm weather, take your child and the potty chair out in the back yard. Let him play naked while you sit and read a book or simply watch. As soon as he starts to urinate, put him on the potty chair. Say, "Way to go." You may have to do this often before you child learns the socially appropriate place to urinate and defecate. If you are okay with a little mess, you can do this indoors too.

Lighten up and make toilet training fun. One parent emptied the toilet bowl and painted a target in the bowl. His son could hardly wait to try to hit the bull's eye. Another made potty time a mom and son affair. Both sat on their respective pots reading a book.

When you introduce training pants, do not humiliate or shame your child when he has an accident. Don't put him back in diapers. Simply help him clean up. Say, "It's okay. You can keep trying. You will soon learn to use the potty chair."

Avoid rewards and praise like stars on a chart or candy treats. Instead use encouraging statements, such as the ones above. Rewards can become more important to your child than learning socially appropriate behavior.

If you are engaged in a potty power struggle with a child between the ages of three to four, disengage. Teach your child how to take care of herself (clean up her messes and use the washing machine) and then mind your own business. That may sound harsh, but you'll be surprised how quickly the problems go away when you become unconcerned.

Planning Ahead to Prevent Future Problems

Keep using diapers (without even talking about toilet training) until your child is old enough to talk about it. (You may be surprised by how early they ask to use the toilet like Mommy and Daddy or their friends who don't wear diapers.) You can then work out a plan together that might include pull-ups as a transition stage.

If your child is still not toilet trained by the time she is three years old, be sure to get a doctor's evaluation to see if there is a physical problem. If there is not a physical problem, you may be involved in a power struggle. Guess who will win!

Stop nagging. Allow your child to experience the consequences of his choice with dignity and respect. During a calm time, teach your child to change his own clothes. When the pants get wet or soiled, kindly and firmly take your child to his bedroom to find new clothes. Then lead your child to the bathroom and ask if she would like to change alone or with you there to keep him company. (Do not do it for him.)

If he refuses (which is unlikely if you have truly dropped the power struggle), ask, "How does it feel to have soiled pants? What ideas do you have to solve the problem? Where are the places you can play when you have soiled pants?" (See the next suggestion.)

During a calm time (when your child is dry) brainstorm with her places she can play when she's not in clean pants. Outside or in the bathroom (have some games in a drawer) or a basement might be appropriate. Be sure this is not a humiliating experience, but her choice. "You can change your soiled pants or play in one of the places we agreed on."

Teach your child (age four and older) how to put soap in the washing machine and push the buttons to wash his own clothes.

Find a preschool where the staff is willing to handle toilet training. It can happen quickly when the facility has small toilets that children can use themselves and children have many opportunities to watch each other use the toilet successfully. Many preschools also have frequent toilet routines that help children learn quickly.

Life Skills Children Can Learn

Children can discover that they can learn socially acceptable way to handle normal life processes in due time without guilt and shame. Mistakes are nothing more than opportunities to learn.

Parenting Pointers

Children often feel frustrated and powerless when faced with expectations they don't feel they can live up to. This is often the reason behind their misbehavior. Children may try to prove they have power in useless ways—by refusing to do what you want.

It hurts when parents don't give unconditional love. Children may want to hurt back without realizing that is their hidden motivation. One way to hurt parents is to refuse to do what is important to them.

Take comfort in knowing that your child will probably be toilet trained by the time she goes to college—and even much sooner when power struggles are eliminated. Relax and enjoy your child.

Booster Thoughts

The mother of a two year old told her daughter, "This weekend we're going to work on potty training. Whenever you feel the urge, let me know, and we'll go in the bathroom together and you can sit on the potty instead of going in your diaper." All weekend, she gave her daughter her complete and undivided attention, waiting for signs or signals from her daughter. By Sunday night, her two year old was completely potty trained. Though she had a few mistakes from time to time during the following year, she mostly used her potty chair willingly and on her own.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Certified Positive Discipline Associates

Some of you may know that the Positive Discipline Association sponsors training for people to become Certified Positive Discipline Associates.

After they take the first two-day training, many decide they want to proceed with advanced training so they send a “Letter of Intent” to become a PDAIT (Positive Discipline Associate in Training). We just received the following letter from Joy Sacco. I found it so inspiring that I asked her permission to share it with others.

LETTER OF INTENT

It is my desire to be trained as a Certified Positive Discipline Associate. I was first introduced to this method in 1994 when I was hired at Carden Academy for Basic Education in Mission Viejo CA. At that time I did not have children and had not taught before although it had been my goal since the third grade. It was required that each teacher read Positive Disciple, answer the questions at the back of the book, and attend weekly meetings to discuss what we learned and how it applied to the classroom. This tool changed my life! As a child that grew up in a “loud” home, one that we called passionate. I wavered between exuberant praise and angry condemnation. It was exhausting, and not the person I wanted to be. I was so thrilled to finally be in a classroom and yet so disappointed in my inability to be the teacher I had envisioned myself to be. This book changed me. It gave me hands on, simple, word for word responses to take the place of my automatic reactions. I would read it every night and literally tape key phrases to my desk. My students soared. Now I have been teaching for 9 years full time. I have taught kindergarten through eight grade with the exception of fourth and sixth and have found that the method remains consistent and effective regardless of age. For the last four years I have been training the teachers in setting up and running class meetings and have facilitated several teachers helping teachers sessions. Class meetings are a part of our routine and are cherished by the children. A Parenting group is being formed at our school as well and will begin this weekend. Not only has it benefited my career, but it has affected my life as a mother and childcare provider.

My children have been raised on Positive Discipline and it shows! One of the most important aspects that I had taken from this philosophy is that “Mistakes are opportunities to learn.” As a perfectionist it was very difficult for me to let go of focusing on a perfect result and instead ENJOY THE PROCESS, marvel and the growth, and embrace mistakes. My oldest son Noah stated it perfectly. He usually receives 80%’s or 90%’s on tests. The response is the same. We sit down and go over the test. He will show me what he did correctly and try to figure out what mistakes he made. I assist when necessary. He came home one day with a 64%. Unintentionally, I gasped. He looked at me surprised and said, “What? It only means I have more to learn.” So true! We got busy learning it! My 8 year old son Nate has become a self-reliant capable young man.

He is a very picky eater! Meal times used to be a nightmare because he would pull his food apart, push it around and refuse to eat. We came up with the solution together that if he does not like what we are having he can make his own dinner providing it incorporates the necessary food groups and it does not make extra work for me. He absolutely loves it! Everyone is shocked when they see him grate, chop, use the food processor, and cook on the stove. He made eggs for everyone one weekend before we were even up! What used to be a headache has now given him a valuable tool. He does want to be a chef one day, (as well as a football player!) The four years that I was able to stay home with my boys and really grow proved to be invaluable..

During that time I supplemented our income by watching children at our home. One woman had an 18 month old son. Her job included teaching and overseeing the public schools newly implemented pre-school classes. After a couple of weeks she said, “What have you done to my son?” I introduced her to Positive Discipline and she absolutely fell in love with it! Together we attended the Positive Discipline in the Classroom workshop in Kingston, NY, with Barbara Kinney on August 23-24, 2002. It was later mandated for the elementary public school teachers in the area to learn and implement this method. She continued her training and began teaching classes at the local college. I always went to provide support.

I have since attended the Teaching Parenting the Positive Discipline Way in San Diego, CA with Jane Nelsen on September 7-8, 2007. With this new tool I found the confidence to teach parenting classes at Toby’s house, a home for expectant young mothers with no family or home to which they can turn. I have been so blessed through this experience! Being a part of a group of enthusiasts which meet once a month at Jane’s house in Carlsbad has instilled me to actively seek to spread the word and reach the community with this much needed tool to empower children and adults alike. I am hoping that acquiring my Positive Discipline Associates Certification will give me this opportunity.

Joy Sacco
Fifth Grade Teacher
San Clemente, CA

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Enthusiastic about their successes with Positive Discipline

It is always fun to interview someone who is so enthusiastic about their successes with Positive Discipline. Following is the email I received from Stephanie Peterson-Ferrel before calling her for an interview. Be sure to check out her website. Her writing is humorous and captures the feelings of many people.

Dr. Nelsen,

I'm not sure where to even start with my success story. I guess a little background would be helpful. Feel free to use only what you think is appropriate.

When I had my oldest, I was a young mom, and my own parents were pretty "traditional" in their methods of discipline - if I made a mistake, I was spanked or grounded. If I did well, I got lots of "attagirls". Naturally, I felt like this would work out for me with my own children. After all, I turned out "fine", didn't I? When my son was about three, there was a night when I overreacted to something he'd done. I won't go into the shameful details, but I made a decision that night that I wouldn't hit my kid again. Seeing that small child afraid of me was enough for me to stop and say, "Whoa. What am I doing??" And that was the end of spanking as a method of discipline in our house...well, most of the time.

It was very hard for me to give up spanking as a method of discipline as it seemed so effective, and I really had no "replacement" for it, other than yelling and nagging. Over the past decade since my decision to stop hitting, I'm ashamed to say I've struck my children in anger and frustration. Not often, but often enough that I'm squirming now just thinking about it. I can very clearly recall the last time I struck either of my kids (it happened to be my then 5 year old daughter), and the thought that went through my mind was, "There has got to be a better way. This isn't helping anyone." I promptly apologized to my daughter, and she forgave me. Kids are better than adults at forgiveness, I think.

After that last time I hit my child, I started voraciously reading parenting websites and magazines. I frequented parenting message boards. I asked for advice from mothers I knew. I was desperately searching for a method that could work for me and my children. I was seeing signs that my son was alternating between being a praise junkie and being completely rebellious. My seven year old daughter was trying her hardest to be the "perfect" child, and she was terribly hard on herself when she fell short of her standards, even though we weren't terribly hard on her. I just knew I had to find something and fast. Unfortunately, my piecemeal approach to parenting wasn't giving me the results I wanted.

A friend linked me to www.positivediscipline.com, and I was hooked by the "What is Positive Discipline?" section. I wanted to know more. I wanted our home to be one filled with love and mutual respect. I wanted my kids to be confident and self-reliant. I wanted them to think for themselves, so they could make good decisions on their own. Really, what parent doesn't want these things? I immediately ordered "Positive Discipline" and "Positive Discipline A-Z". I've read and re-read both of them, and in a matter of weeks, we've seen a remarkable difference in our home. (And PD A-Z has been a lifesaver more than once. Getting out of the "punishment" mindset is so much easier when you have actual suggestions to replace your former manner of handling things.)
The first thing my husband and I worked on was the idea that we had to make our kids feel bad for them to do better. (Did you realize how mind-blowing that line would be when you wrote it?) We sat and talked about it, and we really thought (for the first time) about how ineffective it is. Neither of us do better when we feel worse. Why would we think the kids were different? Once we got that idea straight, a lot of the rest of it came more easily. We've started family meetings (I love these!), and at first, the kids were suspicious. They figured it would be just another time for Mom and Dad to lecture. They've since realized that their input is valuable and more importantly, that it's heard, and they participate enthusiastically. (Yes, even my teenager.)

Another thing that's changed is how often our children fight with each other. Without the "payoff" of Mom or Dad getting involved, they seem to be able to resolve their arguments with a minimum of fuss. The first few times they heard, "I have faith that you can work this out yourselves," they both rolled their eyes and huffed off. Since then, though, they've realized I'm serious, and they work it out themselves. Joy!

I think the absolute hardest part really has been to stay out of things. So many times, I find myself wanting to "fix" things for them, and since reading PD, I've realized I'm not fixing anything. I'm robbing them of their ability to learn from their mistakes and to become capable of making their own decisions. I've spent a lot of time in Positive Time-Out learning to keep my big yap shut, but again -- it's been worth every bit of effort. My son who was previously incapable (or so I thought) of doing his homework without reminders (read: nagging) now does his homework on his own. My daughter has learned that making a mistake is just not a big deal, and I've seen her ease up on the need to be the "perfect" child.

I could go on and on here, but I've already written way more than I'd planned. I do expect to be able to provide even more success stories as time goes on, as my youngest isn't even a year old. (That was another thing I really related to in your book - I have "before, during and after" kids, too.)

Thank you so much,

Stephanie Peterson-Ferrel

Monday, March 3, 2008

Injustices in the world

Once in a while, a rare human being takes the risks necessary to do something about the injustices in the world. Paula Flowe is one of those rare people. I feel honored that Paula is becoming a Certified Positive Discipline Associate. Read the following to see what else she is doing. Be sure to check out Paula's website.

February 27, 2008 Dear Supporters of Safe Environments for Children, Although I had been an educator since 1980, I was totally unprepared for what I saw at the school where I had just begun work. The date was September 11, 2006. The place was Georgia. The behavior I witnessed was the yanking, grabbing, smacking and general manhandling of students by teachers. I was horrified. This certainly was not the kind of thing for which I had trained. Nor could I stand by idly, do nothing and say nothing. That event propelled me to launch a campaign called, "The Hitting Stops Here!" to have school corporal punishment banned wherever it is still legal and practiced in the US. I recently learned of a school child in North Carolina who needed medical attention following a paddling by his teacher. My plan is to go, accompanied by colleagues and supporters, to campaign at the school where this youngster was abused, and then to another nearby school where the teacher who abused him has taken a new position as vice-principal. I believe the time is long overdue for the banning of child beating in the schools. Exposing our most vulnerable citizens -- our children - to such treatment is unacceptable to me as a professional educator, as a parent and as a human being. Can you join us at the schools on Monday, March 17, Tuesday, March 18 and Wednesday, March 19? We plan to challenge the administrators and teachers in these schools to get rid of their child-beating weapons and to adopt proven positive management practices that befit the 21st Century. Please visit my website at www.thehittingstopshere.com. You can e-mail me at paulaflowe@thehittingstopshere.com for more details. Let's talk and make plans. Sincerely, Paula Flowe

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