Monday, May 27, 2013

Small Steps

Parents may not realize that doing too much for children (usually in the name of love) is discouraging. A child may adopt the belief "I’m not capable” when adults insist on doing things for him that he could do himself. Another possible belief is “I am loved only when others are doing things for me.”

It may be helpful to remember that self‐esteem comes from having skills, and that pampering a child actually discourages him. Stop doing things for your child that he can do for himself and make room for him to practice—even when he does things imperfectly. When he says, “I can’t,” have patience; say, “I have faith that you can handle this task.”

Encouraging a child who believes that he is inadequate requires a great deal of patience, gentle perseverance, and faith in the child’s abilities.

Success Story

We have, not really consistently, been trying to get our son to put his own shoes on when getting ready to leave the house.  Today it was time to get going and I asked him to get his shoes and try and put them on while I was upstairs and that if he needed help I would be down in a little bit.

When I came downstairs he was still struggling with the first shoe.  Usually this is when I would just step in and do it for him and, in fact, he was asking me "Mommy, you do it please."

But instead of swooping in, I thought about assumed inadequacy. (click here to view the Mistaken Goal Chart) I offered to show him step by step with the first shoe and he then he would try on his own with the second.  So I did that, showed him step by step with the first shoe then offered him the second.  When it was his turn he was struggling but instead of swooping in, I kept encouraging him and reminded him of the steps and he eventually got it himself.

When he was done there were a few things I could of corrected (too loose straps, etc.) but, and this was a HUGE success for me, instead of "fixing" it I just let it be figuring if they were actually too loose he would have the logical consequence and we would just stop and he could fix it. This was really a major success for me, not so much my son. I am always just swooping in and doing things for him or fixing his way, and he definitely has some issues with assumed inadequacy as a result. I've really been trying this week to not do that to him. I felt really proud of myself and of him. :)

We had another success this week. My son knows when we come inside the house it's his job to take his shoes off and put them away. It was that time and he wasn't wanting to listen. We were on the verge of a tantrum, not really in the midst of it or anything, but just a lot of "no" and laying on the floor not wanting to listen. So I got down on the floor and told him I needed a hug once, to which he responded "no."  Then I said it again, "I need a hug," he looked up and said "huh?" so I said it a third time and he got up and gave me a hug.

When we were done hugging I asked him, "What's your job when we come home?" and he sat right down and took his shoes off. It was awesome! If I had argued with him it would have turned into a tantrum, but instead I stopped myself, told him I needed a hug and afterward it's like he almost forgot what he was even protesting. Again a huge success for both of us.

Sarah G.

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