Thursday, July 28, 2011

I love you, AND the answer is, “No.”

Rudolf Dreikurs taught the importance of being both kind and firm in our relations with children. Kindness is important in order to show respect for the child. Firmness is important in order to show respect for ourselves and for the needs of the situation. Authoritarian methods usually lack kindness. Permissive methods lack firmness. Kindness and firmness are essential for Positive Discipline.

Many parents and teachers struggle with this concept for many reasons. One is that they often don't feel like being kind when a child has "pushed their buttons." Again I want to ask, "If adults want children to control their behavior, is it too much to ask that adults learn to control their own behavior?" Often, it is the adults who should take some Positive Time-out until they can "feel" better so they can "do" better.

Another reason adults have difficulty being kind and firm at the same time is that they don't know what kind and firm look like. They may be stuck in the vicious cycle of being too firm when upset–or because they don't know what else to do; and then being too kind to make up for being too firm.

One of the biggest mistakes some parents and teachers make when they decide to do Positive Discipline is becoming too permissive because they don't want to be punitive. Some mistakenly believe they are being kind when they please their children, or when they rescue them and protect them from all disappointment. This is not being kind; it is being permissive. Being kind means to be respectful of the child and of yourself. It is not respectful to pamper children. It is not respectful to rescue them from every disappointment so they don't have the opportunity to develop their "disappointment muscles." It is respectful to validate their feelings, "I can see that you are disappointed (or angry, or upset, etc.)." Then it is respectful to have faith in children that they can survive disappointment and develop a sense of capability in the process.

A wonderful way to apply this principle of Kindness and Firmness is to use the phrase “I love you, and the answer is ‘no.’” Listen to the following podcast as Mary Nelsen Tamborksi (Jane Nelsen’s youngest daughter) tells a delightful story about being at her wits end before remembering this Positive Discipline tool.

Click the "Play" button to listen the podcast or subscribe on iTunes.


Dahnah said...

This is so great, I love it and yes,it is hard to put it into practice. Let me share one experience I had with my DD (2 yo) this morning, I feel that I failed, and what should have I done instead...

We went to the kitchen to have breakfast, we already agreed to have cereal with milk, but when we arrived there my sister had left some bday cake on the table. So my DD saw it, took it and started to say "cake cake!" so I said that I'll give her after having breakfast first. My sis took it and put it into the fridge and it was then when my DD that started crying for the cake. I wanted to give her smth else to eat, she refused, even if I promised her some cake after eating, nothing worked. I put the cake on the table, and also the food (we did that some other time and she ate 1st and waited for the sweet treat, but wanted to see it, to have it next to her), but she wanted just cake, cake.
In the end I gave up and she had a little piece of cake, when I said it was enough she was ok with it, but of course she didn't have anything else, no milk, no cereal, nothing at all. So that was her breakfast. I feel so bad about it, I do care a lot about the food she eats and I feel bad I did that.

My reason to do that was that I knew if I hadn't given her the cake she wouldn't have anything instead, and it was already late morning, so, no breakfast at all. Hmm... now I think I had better taken her out of the kitchen, cool off and later maybe bring her smth to eat in the room, no to replay everything in the kitchen.

Or what else could have I done? No breakfast at all? (well, she had some milk, she still nurses on demand)

I'd like some advice pls, I highly admire you and trying to put into practice all your teaching, thx a lot!


Jane Nelsen said...

There are a couple of ways to get answers to questions. You can go to the following link and type in a topic. You can also join our private social network which is a friendly, encouraging Positive Discipline community. Questions are answered by Certified Positive Discipline Associates.