Dear Positive Discipline Community,
I can't remember how I first happened upon a copy of Positive Discipline, by Dr. Jane Nelson, but somehow it found it's way into my hands during my third year of teaching. I was starting at a new school in a new district. All I remember thinking was that I wished that I had the book the year before. Prior to coming to this school I was teaching an alternative middle school program for students in 6-8th grade who were having difficulty with the traditional school setting. They would spend half their day in the “regular” school and then get bused over to me for the other half. I had two classes of students, morning and afternoon. These were students who were disaffected, defiant, abusive, angry, and had no sense of belonging. As a second year teacher, they burned me out. I worked hard to give them some meaning and a sense of belonging, but I know that if I had Positive Discipline in my tool box, that year would have been so much better.
I read Positive Discipline and loved it, but I didn't internalize it. I was busy and didn't realize that I was holding a treasure box in my hands. I started doing class meetings, but not really following the method. They went well, but not as well as I would have liked. I put the book on the shelf along with all my other teaching books and, frankly, forgot about it.
After teaching for 7 years my husband and I started our family. I decided to stay home, cleared out my classroom and put all the books on the shelves at home. I was quickly swallowed up by babies, nursing, changing diapers, and sleep deprivation. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing group of women with whom I formed a mother's group. They were all advocates of Positive Discipline and I remembered that dusty book on my shelf. I finally reread it after my second child was born and we began to implement it at home. We started family meetings with my daughter when she was 4 and now that my son is 4, he participates as well.
My husband found Jane's blog on the internet and put in on the home page of my computer. I then learned that there were classes and workshops on Positive Discipline that people could take. I was especially intrigued by the idea of becoming trained to work with parents in the method and I couldn't get it out of my mind. The idea was planted and it continued to nag and pull at me. When my husband lost his job in the fall of 2008, the pearl of an idea grew larger and larger as I thought about going back to work. Never have I found a parenting method which was so in-line with my beliefs about people, human nature, and children. It was so respectful and caring, and taught children and parents how to make choices and problem solve. Coming from a family which was loving but authoritarian, this was all so appealing. It seemed such a natural fit with my teaching experience, my love for children, and my knowledge and experience now as a parent.
Last February, 2009, I went to Seattle to attend the workshop “Teaching Parenting The Positive Discipline Way” taught by Melanie Miller in Kirkland, Washington. It was wonderful and I came home empowered to begin working with parents. At the training I met another woman who lives in Portland and we collaborated to begin teaching classes together. This past fall we taught our first 7 week class at my daughter's elementary school. Right now I am preparing to teach my second class to begin in February. I will be teaching this one on my own as my colleague is overwhelmed by a recent move and two very young children. I feel fortunate to have her support as well as Melanie's as I move into this next class.
It is my hope to become a Positive Discipline Associate. I would like to continue teaching classes at my children's school for as long as there is interest. Eventually I would love to be able to offer support to more families where parenting resources are less available. As a teacher I have seen more than I care to remember of difficult family situations for children and I feel that so often parents feel lost and alone when trying to raise children. Adding poverty, a very young age, and/or little education to the equation only exacerbates this for parents. I am also interested in helping get Positive Discipline into more schools in our region. We have one P.D. Certified school here in Portland and it would be wonderful to see that number grow. I feel the possibilities as a Positive Discipline Associate are numerous. Right now, I'm very happy working with the parents in my immediate community and hope to continue working on my skills as a parent group leader. It will be wonderful to have the support of the Positive Discipline Community if I am accepted into the training.