Friday, December 7, 2012

Positive Discipline in France

I just have to share this email from Béatrice Sabate, A Certified Positive Discipline Trainer in France. I loved watching the video even though I don't understand French.

Hi everyone,

A few good news to share with all of you!
Last Wednesday, we got a 4mn during the evening news (prime time) on
national television :

In the video above, you will be able to see the 4mn including
Nadine's family talking about a few PD tools they are using at home
(all beautiful and natural and so PD!); and parents during a session
talking about what PD has brought to their life...very touching! It's
only 4 minutes when the shooting lasted 9 hours total but ... great
memories, wonderful sharing and a real sense of belonging for all the

The Positive Discipline book is now published in French, there are articles in the media such as ELLE magazine; Parents magazine; psychology magazine ... the sky will be the limit. The first Positive Discipine in the Classroom Workshop will happen at the end of February and we will have our second Teaching Parenting Workshop in January. A lot of seven week parenting classes are now running. We are all focused on spreading the Positive Discipline news in this lovely country who really is in need! It's a start but it's happening. A few French educators will go to the PDC in London in order to meet Jane and see Teresa again (as she already met them in Paris). We also have a facebook page : association discipline positive france. Check out our page!

It is amazing for all of us to be part of the Positive Discipline adventure. We are so grateful to all of you and your unconditional support.
As far as I am concerned I am also deeply thankful remembering the
day, 15 years ago, when I accidentally found Jane's book on a shelve
in an office where I was providing play therapy to kids ...
Warm hugs to all.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fostering an Attitude of Gratitude Through Family Meetings

An attitude of gratitude does not come naturally. It must be learned. Regular practice and sharing will help all family members develop an attitude of gratitude.

Family Meeting Gratitude Activity: (from the Family Meeting Album)

1. At the end of each family meeting, pass out a blank "Gratitude Page." Encourage family members to put the page in a place where they can access it easily and write down the things for which they are grateful.

2. Allow time during family meetings (or meals) for people to share the things for which they are grateful.

3. During each family meeting, collect the Gratitude Pages, and place them in the family meeting binder.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pay Attention and Wheel of Choice Adaptation

The "Pay Attention" tool card says "Put down whatever you are doing and focus on your child as though he or she is more important than anything else you could do." But what about those times when there really is something that needs your full attention at that moment. The following story from Elly Zhen, a Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator in China, is a great example of teaching children that they can find creative ways to occupy their time when mom or dad is busy.

I needed to take my 4-year-old daughter, Serenity, with me to my Postive Discipline parenting class in the morning. There was not a babysitter available. That means she would need to play by herself for three hours. I asked her: "Three hours? Do you think you will be bored?" She nods her head.

"So what can you do when you are bored?"

"I can play with that!" — she pointed to her Dora game.

"Great! Let's write all the ideas down." I'll get a piece of paper. We have done this before -- a revised version of "The Wheel of Choice" -- The Cards of Choices.

She came up with 8 ideas of what she could do in the 3 hours, eg. listening to music with earphone, drawing, playing with her animal toys, learning piano, laying on the couch, sitting with mommy just watching, playing with Dora game, and eating sunflower seeds!

In the morning, with those eight "Cards of Choices", Serenity played by herself for two hours in my class. [Comment from Jane: This is a long time for a 4-year-old.]

She started feeling "bored" when there was about one hour left, "because mommy didn't play with me." I point to the clock on the wall: "When the long arm goes to 12, I will play with you."

After 30 minutes, she comes to me again. I ask if she would like to sit on my lap or on the chair next to me. I can feel all the student moms are looking at me, a bit intense. I keep being calm.

She sits on my lap, but only for one minute. She starts sobbing and covering my mouth with her hand. I ask the moms if we should continue or if I should take care of her first? They all choose the latter.

I hold her tight, put her head on my chest, kissing her, telling her: "I know you are bored and sad, because it's been a long time, and mommy is still not playing with you. You wish I could stop the class right now, and play with you." She nodded her head.

"I can play rock paper scissors game with you, two or three times?"

"Five times!"

"Hmmmm, how about not three, not five, but four times!"


"After the game, do you have any good ideas so you won't feel bored and mommy could continue the class?"

She said: "I can go out play the Dora game without earphone."

"Would you like to play the rock paper game before going out or after the class is over?"

"After the class is over."

Then she did!

There is no better role-play" than a real life experience in class.

Although Serenity was still down and sad even when we are on the way back home, she did not cry or throw a tantrum. She kept silent in the car, and shook her head when being asked if she would like to talk. I told her: "I love you, no matter what. Take your time."

When we got back home, she returned all fine. We played the game eventually and had a lot of laughs!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bullying on the Bus

Last week I was interviewed by a Los Angeles Times reporter regarding the YouTube video of the bullying of a 68-year-old grandma and bus monitor by four middle school boys. I recommended that the boys should not be punished in traditional ways (bullying by adults) and have since been bullied by many readers of the Times article.

I have been called an idiot, a quack, a sociopath, pathetic, a loser, a libtard, spouting crap, hogwash, nuts, this womans horses$%t, the fool "expert," a joke, etc. And we wonder where kids learn about bullying.

(Hey guys, I’m a 75-year-old grandma with 7 children and 21 grandchildren who love me. )

These readers are ready to crucify me and they haven’t asked one question about how much of the article was a true depiction of what I said in the interview. The reporter didn’t even spell my name correctly.

Actually, I thought that much of the article was excellent—and, much of what I said was left out.

The reporter didn't include what I said about brain research and the importance of connecting before correcting, so kids can learn from their mistakes.  Punishment (which is very different from discipline) simply increases power struggles and revenge cycles (as in wars), or blind obedience out of fear. One purpose of Positive Discipline is to help kids learn to do what is right when no one is looking.

She didn't focus on all the things I said about helping kids explore the consequences of their choices and then focusing on solutions (and making amends). Helping children explore the consequences of their choices is much different from imposing consequences (punishment) on them. When kids explore the consequences of the their choices (in a non-threatening atmosphere) they are often led to true remorse and a desire to make sincere amends—not forced and false apologies.

She didn't mention the importance of creating an atmosphere where all kids feel a sense of belonging and significance and then teaching kids about respect and problem-solving skills in regular class meetings and family meetings.

Most readers of the article assumed that Positive Discipline advocates that nothing would be done to the boys who were involved in the bullying. This is partially true. I don’t think anything should be done “to” the boys, but I think a lot should be done with the boys. This would be an excellent time for curiosity questions with the boys:

  • What happened?
  • What do you think caused that to happen?
  • What were the results of what happened?
  • How did it affect others?
  • How did it affect you?
  • What did you learn from this experience?
  • How can you use what you learned to make amends?

Another possibility would be to invite the boys to create a program that would help other kids learn from their experience. They could be invited to show the video to kids in other classrooms and/or assemblies and share what they learned from the curiosity questions and invited discussion from other kids on how to avoid their mistake. Note I said, “invited,” not forced. Sharing their experience would be most effective if they had the support of adults who would understand (and help them understand) that it would take a lot of courage to use their mistake to help others.

Some people have assumed that the apologies made by the boys were forced and not sincere. I don’t know for sure, but I believe they got caught up in mob mentality and were mortified when they saw what they had done. Positive Discipline teaches that mistakes are opportunities to learn. In this case, the mistake could be an opportunity to learn—and to help others learn.

It is my wish that adults would remember that kids learn what they live, and that we need to look at the bullying model we provide for kids when we bully kids.  As Haim G. Ginot said:

  • When a child hits a child, we call it aggression.
  • When a child hits an adult, we call it hostility. 
  • When an adult hits an adult, we call it assault.
  • When an adult hits a child, we call it discipline.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Understand the Brain Using the Palm of Your Hand

In their book, Parenting From the Inside Out (Tarcher/Penguin, 2004) Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell present an elegant and refreshingly (to us non-brain-scientists) understandable explanation of brain processes. In our Positive Discipline classes with both parents and teachers of children, this model remains one of the most useful and remembered tools. It’s called “Brain in the Palm of Your Hand.” What follows is a demonstration of Siegel’s model.

With two flipped lids face to face (yours and your child’s), how much helpful problem solving do you think is happening? Who is listening? When you and your child are in a “flipped lid” state, is this the time to teach or try to solve the conflict?

Many parents and teachers try to deal with a behavior problem with a child when they are in the “flipped lid” state of brain functioning. When you understand the brain you realize that this is useless. Children cannot learn anything positive when they feel threatened. They are capable only of fight or flight—even though their fight or flight may be emotional withdrawal or thoughts of avoiding rebellion. Lectures are useless at best and damaging at worst because children in a flipped lid state tune out lectures or take them into their decision making process through the amygdala where they may be deciding to get even, to avoid getting caught in the future, or deciding, “I am a bad person.”

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Many of you know that we have a Positive Discipline Social Network where members encourage and support each other in the practical application of Positive Discipline. Recently someone posted a discussion about a friend who is feeling discouraged about a son who keeps getting into trouble at a school that uses the colored card system. Every time he “misbehaves,” he gets a colored card and his parents are expected to punish him at home.

I had to respond to this discussion because I have a close friend who is going through the same thing. Of course you might guess my opinion of the color cards—a very dysfunctional system. Then teachers encourage parents to be dysfunctional at home—adding more punishment. Before I continue, I will say that there are many good things at my friend’s child’s school—including the teacher. The school and this teacher simply believe in Behaviorism—that punishment and rewards are the best way to motivate “good” behavior—very different from the Adlerian Psychology base of Positive Discipline. So, I will share with you the advice I have given to my friend.

Don't add punishment at home. Keep encouraging him to focus on solutions. My friends concern was that his solution was to be sent to his room for 5 minutes and she didn't think that was severe enough.

At this point I have to digress and editorialize. It is so interesting to me that parents and teachers are willing to keep doing a punishment over and over, even if it doesn't work, but stop doing a Positive Discipline tool after one or two tries because it doesn't seem to work--right away.

I told my friend to take his suggestion and send him to his room for 5 minutes (very different from punishment when it is his idea). When he comes out avoid discouraging lectures. Use encouragement.  Just say, "I hope this works." If it doesn't work—which it won't because he is only a kindergartner and gets colored cards for things like talking (socializing with his friends)—which is developmentally appropriate for a Kindergarten child to do. (Arrrgggghhh!).

Celebrate every time he gets a colored card. This provides another opportunity for him to practice working on solutions. Every time he does, be encouraging and simply say, "Cool. I hope this works."  No reprimands when it doesn't—just anther opportunity to practice problem solving—over and over and over.

Now lets time travel five years from now. Make some guesses about what a child might be thinking, feeling, and deciding about himself after many opportunities and encouragement to experiment with solutions when he gets into trouble. Then make some guesses about what that same child might be thinking, feeling, and deciding after experiencing punishment at school and at home every time he gets into trouble.

It is very important to consider the long-term results of what we do. Lately I have been using the analogy of what it takes for a child to learn to talk—years of example—first to say a word, then more listening to examples and encouragement to learn sentences, and more years to keep developing and perfecting language. Why do we expect immediate results for other kinds of learning. Why do we expect social (behavior) learning to be immediate? And, how well would children learn to talk if they were humiliated and punished every time they got it wrong.

Children learn what they live. If we want our children to grow up learning to be kind and firm and respectful, we better make sure that is what they live. Remember that encouragement is the foundation of Positive Discipline. As Rudolf Dreikurs said, over and over, "A child needs encouragement like a plant needs water. It is essential to healthy growth and development.

Listen to the excerpt below which beautiful illustrates how encouragement can work much better than punishment. The following is an excerpt from the Building Self-Esteem Through Positive Discipline MP3.

The Discouraged Child