Raising My Twins

It's what's on my mind.

Sweet Thoughts on Positive Discipline

on March 20, 2012

“The inevitable result of consistently employing power to control your kids when they’re young is that you never learn how to influence.” —Thomas Gordon

“I know that when my child rejects me, I’m tempted to withdraw from her emotionally.  But giving her the cold shoulder doesn’t teach her anything positive about how to build a relationship.  Worse, it undermines the supportive relationship that is her best protection throughout childhood.  Remind yourself that when kids are at their least lovable, that’s when they need your love the most.” — Dr. Laura Markham

“Here’s a bumper sticker I’d like to see: “We are the proud parents of a child who’s self-esteem is sufficient that he doesn’t need us promoting his minor scholastic achievements on the back of our car.” — George Carlin

The girls happily playing together. They cooperate very well most of the time.

I’m learning a lot about “Positive Discipline” and trying to employ its tenets here in our household. It matches so well with what I want to accomplish and what I want to convey to my kids, I’m very glad I’ve found it and that there are such great resources to support my efforts.

Here are three examples of what it looks like in our house:

The easiest one: I don’t punish the girls for undesirable behaviors. I keep in mind their curious, learning stage and realize they have to test everything, multiple times. It makes me infinitely more patient, but this does require I take care of myself well, so that I have this capacity to stop and think before reacting. If it’s something we really don’t do, such as bang on the wall heater, I remove them promptly and redirect, telling them it’s “not safe”. This was always my most consistent reaction, but the difference now is that I remember their stage and don’t let my frustration escalate as much. If they can’t be deterred, then I change the situation to keep them safe, and I’ll tell them why as briefly and respectfully as possible. (“I have to block the hallway off until you can be safe around the heater. I understand you’re not there yet, and it’s okay.”)

The sweetest one: When a girl has a tantrum, I get close to her and tell her I understand her feelings, naming them as best I can. I offer hugs if she wants, and if she doesn’t I tell her I’m here when she wants one, and then stay close by, shooting loving glances and smiles until she feels like getting that hug. This one is fun and warm, making it pretty easy to implement. The only problem is when I’ve got dinner on the stove or something. But then I just stay in communication with the girl while I go and turn the stove off or whatever.

The most difficult one: I’m weaning myself off of “Good job!” and instead trying to say, “Look what you can do!” and “You did it!” For some reason it’s very hard to stop myself from the old standby. The thought behind this, in its short form, is that it helps the child to develop an inner sense of accomplishment, not to live for your praise alone. I used to think this was mumbo jumbo, but I don’t anymore. However, it’s going to take some time to retrain me. I do try to think in terms of how I can get them to be proud of themselves, rather than how they can make me proud. In fact, this is one thing I’ve done from early on—I say, “You must be proud of yourself!” a little more often than I say, “I’m proud of you!” But the latter phrase definitely pops out from time to time.

I like the warmth and trust inherent in these techniques, but I have a little further to go to get practiced at them. Another thing I really want to do is separate the girls when Dad is home and we each spend 10 uninterrupted minutes with each toddler, doing whatever they choose to do. Dad is excited about this too, but we haven’t done it yet. We have to get organized. I think first thing in the morning would be a great time for this, but they do love to play together at that time. Maybe before dinner would be better.

For more information on Positive Parenting, try Dr. Laura Markham’s website, which has an absolute wealth of information: http://www.ahaparenting.com/

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10 responses to “Sweet Thoughts on Positive Discipline

  1. Joanna Aislinn says:

    Wonderful post, Laura. I especially like the way you addressed dealing with a tantrum (which my 13 y/o still has quite often), and I plan on trying a few of those techniques. Emotionally, the boy has a way to go yet to catch up with his chronological age. His frustration tolerance tends to be low, as is his cognitive flexibility, so I’m forever working at getting him to try until he sees success. (Sometimes that’s the hardest thing, but we persevere.)

    Good luck with your girls. Took me a very long time to start feeling good about my parenting. Look how well you’re doing already! Be proud!

    Oh, and thanks for the blog visit. Hope to see you again!

    • Janet S says:

      Thank you! Oh, and it’s Janet, but no matter. 🙂 I will be checking in with your blog too. Always good to have someone paving the way ahead of me. I have a lot more to learn! Thanks for the visit.

      • Joanna Aislinn says:

        Where did I get Laura? I am so sorry. (I once had a patient. The poor thing’s name was George. From day one, I called him Walter–got to the point, he answered only to that, lol.

        You’re never done learning, but that’s okay (most of the time anyway ;)). This parent-trip would get boring, right?

        Take care, Janet, and ttys! If I you ever need an ear (I work with school-aged kids ranging from 3-middle school), I’ll be happy to provide one. Contact me via Facebook, blog or Twitter (DM).

  2. Joanna Aislinn says:

    And thanks so much for following my blog! You made my day!

    • Janet says:

      Fantastic! Thank you! Oh, and I think you got Laura from the second quote on my page, by Dr. Laura Markham, who has a tremendously cool website (Aha! Parenting) on positive parenting. I look at it daily now. ttys

      • Joanna Aislinn says:

        Okay, glad there was a reasonable reason for that gaff. (Any chance you have a sister by the same name? I do that often too–call someone by a sibling’s name–often before I know that sibling exists. A bit freaky, too.

        I’ll check out Laura’s website too. Parents, like writers, need to stick together and help each other out.

    • Janet S says:

      Oh my gosh! Thank you so much for the link! I am so glad to be parenting this way and I look forward to more continued inspiration from you and others in the ‘sphere.

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