Monday, March 26, 2012


The Positive Discipline Tool we worked with this week was Mistakes.  The point of this tools is to use mistakes as opportunities to learn.  Instead of making children feel bad for making mistakes, parents should try to encourage them to look at the mistake and why or how it happened to learn from it.

This is something that we try to do in our house anyway, so this week was just a nice reminder that mistakes are good things.  The important thing about mistakes being good things is that they don't have to be bad things.    That is a very helpful realization in many ways.

The first good thing that comes from treating mistakes in a positive way, is that it makes it a lot easier to let go of the mistake.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, my daughter responds very well to my maintaining a calm demeanor.  When mistakes happen, and we approach them with excitement to learn or laughter we both reamin more calm and our home more peaceful.  We learn what we can from the mistake and then move on, no dwelling on it and feeling sorry for ourselves or angry with others.

The other great thing about being able to laugh at your own mistakes is the lesson in humility that it teaches every time.  Let's be real, we all make mistakes, no one is perfect or even close, so there is really no reason to pretend to be in front of our children.  When children learn that mistakes are ok, then they know that they are also ok.  No need for shame or regret to enter into the equation, just laugh, learn and move on.

It is a pretty simple idea that may take some practice if it is not what you are used to doing.  Once you get the hang of it you will probably notice a lot more peace and a lot less frustration from the little people in your life who are truly learning every moment of every day.  Make what they learn be something good!

Next week we will take a look at: The Three R's of Recovery!
humility - learning to not be perfect

Monday, March 19, 2012


Our tool this week is Jobs!  For me, jobs and chores have basically the same meaning, but if you think of chores as something that your child does in exchange for money than maybe thinking of jobs as something different will help you implement this new idea.   Jobs are age appropriate tasks tat children perform to contribute to the family.  Everyone benefits from these jobs.  Children learn life skills, everyone shares the load of keeping up the home, and children feel capable and needed.

The first step in creating a job routine in your home is to, along with the help of your children, identify the jobs that need to be done and those which are do-able for them.  Once you have all agreed on the jobs that your children will be responsible for you need to develop a plan for when and how they will get done.  There are many options for this including: chore charts, wheel of jobs with a spinner or a drawing jobs from a hat.  The next step goes back a couple weeks - "Take Time for Training".  All children need to be show how to do the jobs that you expect them to do properly, children under six will continue to need help and coaching with their jobs.  Once everyone knows what to do and how to do it, you will need set clear expectations as to when the jobs will be completed  This plan is created and agreed upon by all members in the family.  It is also good to discuss what will happen when these plans aren't adhered to.

What this looks like in our house:  Our daughter has a chore chart.  It has an assortment of ten chores, five that apply to the whole house and five that are specific to her room/things.  Each day has two spots next to it, in which she chooses one whole house chore and one personal chore to do each day of the week.  We take the weekends off.  I have spent time training her on all these chores, but still find that I occasionally need to work with her on chores and/or give her verbal reminders of the steps involved in the chores.  We have agreed that she can choose when to do the chores, but that they need to be completed before dinner, so if they are not done when I start preparing dinner I will give her a reminder at that time.  For the most part this works.  I like the fact that she chooses which chores she will do each day.  We have talked about the way to choose, not only what you feel like doing, but also what needs to be done on any given day.  Of course there are days that we are too busy for chores, and on those days we try to make up the next day or just skip some of the less important chores.  Some are not skippable - putting away her laundry, for example.  Others, like dusting can occasionally skipped!

These are the formal jobs that my daughter has, but she does a lot of other jobs around the house too.  She picks up baby toys, she gets the mail, makes our salad, sets the table, unloads the dishwasher, and much, much more.  No she is not working all the time, but she likes to help out, it makes her feel valued and she really does help.  There are days that I think to myself, I don't know what I would do with out her help!  She is really learning life skills in the form of chores, time management and cooperation.

Jobs help make her more independent.  In the Montessori philosophy contributing to the family or class is an important aspect of development and goes back to one of my favorite quotes, "Any unnecessary help is a hindrance to development".  If your children can do it themselves, please allow them to!

Next week we will work on: Mistakes - now that sounds like an easy one, doesn't it?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Positive Time-Out

I know, it sounds crazy!  Or maybe for some of you who have been reading my blogs you think I am finally speaking your language, "time-out" sounds familiar.  THIS is a whole different thing than the traditional time out.  Jane Nelson promotes a Positive Time-Out, in which the child makes the choice to take a time-out.

I have to be honest, this is a very difficult tool for me to use.  Even with understanding and good intentions it is hard for this not to become parent controlled and punitive.  When my daughter was around 2 1/2 we introduced the idea of taken a time-out.  A time to cool off when we feel frustrated, angry or upset.  We hung some beautiful flower pictures in one corner of her bedroom, added a comfy chair and special pillow, and a basket of books.  This was to be her special spot for cooling off.  We explained it and talked about, probably way too much.  It was a great idea, but it didn't work for us.  Before long I was practically dragging my tantruming three year old to her special spot for what was not a very positive time-out.  Of course she wouldn't stay there, because it was not her choice in the first place to be there and quickly her special place turned into her not-so-fun place.  She was either too young or this tool just did not work.  I abandoned the idea all together and hadn't tried it again until this past week, three years later!

The Parenting Tool Card this week actually coincided nicely with some other ideas that we have been working on at home.  For the past month we have been introducing the idea of meditation or quiet time to our daughter.  She is now much more concentrated and in control of herself in general, but she still "flips her lid" on occasion.  We have downloaded some guided meditations for children, set up a peaceful place for her quiet time and allowed her to begin a meditation practice of her own.  Each morning I que up one of the meditations for her and she spends 5-20 minutes in her room alone in silent presence!  She has been really enjoying it.  It has given her a sense of control over her feeling and emotions.  Overall I think it has really helped her stay in control of herself.  She still looses it occasionally though.  Last week when she got upset about not being able to open a container and began to freak out, I bent down and quietly invited her to go into her peaceful place and spend a little time calming down.  To my surprise she stomped off and went straight to her room.  I let her go on her own.  After about ten minutes she came back and said that she did one of the meditations that she had learned previously to help her let go of her angry feelings and feel happy again.  I was really amazed, as was my husband!  Another day I tried it again and she said she didn't want to go, so I offered to go with her, and she accepted.  We went in her peaceful place together, hugged each other and then talked about how we are able to choose how we feel and how we act.  We both agreed it feels better to be peaceful than angry!

Another important aspect to this tool is to model the behavior you desire.  Adults can have a positive time-out too.  If you meditate you can use that space, otherwise just choose a quiet place that you can go to cool down when you get upset.  Tell your child that you need to go and take a time-out and that you will be back as soon as you feel calm again.  This benefits everyone in your family!

Teaching children to be in control of their actions and emotions is such a valuable life tool.  It is something they will be able to use throughout their entire life!

Next week the tool we will try is: Jobs!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Validate Feelings

Another week of Positive Discipline Parenting Tools.  This week we worked on the tool card Validate Feelings.  The main point here is to allow your children to experience and and all emotions, help them with identifying/noticing the feeling they are having and allow them to work past it.

This tool is such a respectful and honorable tool.  It fits in with the Montessori philosophy so well, as many of the tools do!  What I really like about it is that it makes you look at the child as a competent, sensitive, insightful human being.  There is no dismissing of feelings or emotions, even the ones that push our buttons, and that is what really hit home for me.

I have always been pretty good about helping my daughter to look at the emotion she is feeling, name it and talk about it with her if needed.  We also spend a lot of time in our house talking about negative versus positive emotions and how each makes us feel inside.  Positive emotions like love, joy, excitement, passion, etc make us feel good all over.  Negative emotions, like anger, annoyance, boredom, jealousy, sadness, etc. often make us feel bad, both physically and emotionally.  We like to try to take deep breaths, ask for hugs, and use words to explain how we are feeling before these negative emotions take over our bodies.  This isn't always possible, and so we also talk about ways to let out the negative emotions in a way that is not hurtful, physically or emotionally, to ourselves or others.  Things like crying, taking deep breaths, or writing what we are feeling down are all acceptable ways to physically express a feeling like anger.  With children, and adults for that matter, this is something that takes time to learn.

That brings me to the pushing my buttons part.  The hardest part of parenting, for me, is not allowing my self to be sucked in to the emotional rants of my children.  I love them so much and I spend so much time with them that I find it hard not to take it personally when they are angry or upset.  When I respond with anger it only makes things worse, MUCH WORSE!  My five year old daughter is very emotional at times.  I am sure most mother's of five year olds would probably say the same.  She can go from peaceful to frenzied in a matter of seconds over a broken crayon or the proverbial spilled milk.  The thing is though, she can go back to calm that quickly, IF the response she gets to her outbreak is calm, non-confrontational, and respectful.  If I don't allow myself to be consumed by her negative emotion, and get angry about the feeling she is having, things usually work themselves out.  In the end negative feelings are usually the expression of painful past experiences or expectations of the future, not really what is happening that moment.  The first few times your child spills her milk she will not be upset by this, but if you yell or respond in a negative way to the spill, then he next time it happens she will also get angry and or upset, more because she anticipates your response and is thinking about how she felt the last time you got angry about it.  The spilled milk is really no big deal, let it go.

In then end this tool card for me is more about teaching children to recognize the bigger picture -- the present moment.  When they can do that they often don't need to spend time feeling the negative emotions, they can learn to just let them go.  Children are naturally much better at doing this than adults, so when we start talking about validating feelings we also have to be careful that we aren't magnifying something that we could really just let go!

And the next tool is: Positive Time-Out, uh-oh this one is a tricky one!