Friday, May 10, 2013

The Positive Discipline Journey

by Isabelle Belles (Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator)

My husband, my then two year-old son, and I moved from Madrid, Spain to Chicago in 2008 because of my husband’s job. I was working at that time for a consulting company as a full-time manager. Even when I had my son, I had never considered stopping working, but moving to the U.S. was a major challenge for my career. I was able to continue working for the same company for a year after our arrival in Chicago, but then, due to personal circumstances, I decided to leave my job. Suddenly, I found myself “officially” a full-time mother without any parenting skills.

The transition was really challenging for me. I went from very little family time, work days with full agendas and business trips to seemingly limitless hours to devote to taking care of my son, school meetings and class field trips. What a change! Everything was new for me, even more so as I was in a different country, using a new language.

But the most difficult part was my lack of education in parenting skills. I realized that I was applying the same methods as my parents had used with me, but with few, if any, positive results. I was not satisfied, neither was my family, and I couldn’t find a way to change it.

Months passed, and a wonderful woman, who later would become one of my beloved friends, mentioned two words to me, two words that changed my life: Positive Discipline. I opened all my senses and listened carefully. “Be kind and firm at the same time” she told me. With her characteristic passion and generosity, she explained to me what Positive Discipline was all about and how this new pedagogical approach was also changing her life. I was sure that a new path as a parent was opening up in front of me.  At the very least Positive Discipline was something new to try.  At that time, my son was four years old.

After researching on the internet and reading comments and newsletter subscriptions, I found my interest in Positive Discipline growing daily. I was really excited to find that there would be a Positive Discipline presentation at my son’s school in April 2010 by Dina Emser (MA, Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer) and Marine Bazin (also a Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer). They introduced the main aspects of PD and announced that they would present a multi-session series in the near future. In the meantime, I was determined to learn more, so I started to read the book “Positive Discipline” by Jane Nelsen.

In winter of 2011, Dina Emser presented a seven-session course with Marine Bazin. I attended the series, which covered the basic principles of Positive Discipline and focused on resolving problems with teenagers. We read and worked with the book “Positive Discipline for Teenagers”. Even though my son was still a toddler, it was terrific to notice that solutions could be applied at whatever one’s child’s age. It was a wonderful experience that slowly transformed our family life. I remember my first attempts at Positive Discipline: I used index cards to recall sentences that were in the book. My son was surprised by the change in my approach, but accepted it easily. We both felt so good as a result of just changing the way we were communicating. I then incorporated more Positive Discipline tools in our daily life, such as family meetings, limited choices, and routines.

Our family life had improved, and I was feeling more and more confident as a parent. I decided to keep going on my journey, and I enrolled for certification (Positive Discipline Parent Educator).  In May 2011, three friends and I attended Dina Emser’s workshop entitled Teaching Parenting the Positive Discipline Way that was held in Normal, Illinois. It was such a wonderful experience in so many different ways. One of the most enjoyable parts was sharing the two days (including the driving to and from Chicago) with my friends. We connected in a way that still feels really special today. Also, seeing a large group, with totally different backgrounds, but working and exploring in harmony, was a confirmation of the strong community that the Positive Discipline way builds.

Lately, I have discovered a new “version” of Positive Discipline, La Discipline Positive! I am French and Spanish, so when the French Positive Discipline book was published last year, I ran to buy one! It is so interesting to see the differences between the American and French editions. It seems like knowing already the painting but seeing different details. Consequently, January of 2013 I have enrolled in a seven-session series conducted in French which I am enjoying as much as I did the first miles of my Positive Discipline journey ...

My next stop will be to attend the think tank in 2013! After that I would like to work towards advance certification training.

Bon voyage!!!
Isabelle Belles

No comments: