Monday, June 25, 2012

Understanding the Brain

Understanding the Brain is a crucial part of being a good parent.  Jane Nelson uses a model of the brain, called  Brain in the Palm of Your Hand from Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell's book Parenting From the Inside Out to explain the brain to parents and teacher in her Positive Discipline Courses.   Basically, when we get frustrated or angry or irritated we react to the situation in a fight or flight mode, not a rational mode.  Our emotions become uncontrolled and our thinking goes out the window.  This is what they refer to as flipping our lid.  The Positive Discipline parenting tool card explains why and how to deal with a flipped lid.  Instead of reacting to something with fight or flight we need to WAIT.  When either person has a flipped lid problems can't be solved and people need time to cool off and access the rational part of our brain.  Taking a positive time-out or putting the problem on a family meeting agenda will allow time to cool off.

I think this tool is important in so many ways.  Parents and children need to understand that when we flip our lids we don't make the best decisions, and that it is possible to regain that control by cooling off.   Not only is this a good thing to know about ourselves, but other people as well.  When people flip their lids they lose control.  It is not anyone else's fault.  Children who understand this will not only feel confident in their own ability to get back to calm and after flipping their lid, but they also won't feel responsible for upsetting a parent who has flipped their lid.

Understanding the possibility of the flipped lid and the ability to recover from it is the first step.  Once that has happened an apology might be necessary if your flipped lid caused you to do or say hurtful things to someone else.  Another important follow up would be to take a look at what happened right before your flipped your lid.  Was there a certain feeling, or thought?  If so, these can be used as cues the next time a flip is coming and you can use them to stop yourself from going over the edge.

I have an amazingly easy lid to flip, and I think I have passed it on to my daughter.  We work together to avoid flipping our lids, but we also have to be very careful that we do not allow one flipped lid to cause another.  We both like to take time-outs and ask for hugs when we feel a lose of control coming on.  I know that it is not fun to be the person who has a flipped lid or the observer.  Both feels bad.  Even more reason to try to work really hard to avoid getting to that point and to teach your children ways to calm down before they get to that point as well.

Next week I will talk about: Back Talk.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Act Without Words

 This week we focused on the parenting tool - Act Without Words.  Honestly, this is something I have forgotten all about.  I say way too much when dealing with my children.  I find myself talking and talking and talking as they walk away and have moved on from the incident.  How silly.  What a waste of breath and happy times when I drag things out longer than need be.  I remember when my daughter was around two years old.  It was clear that long explanations were not only not productive, but really not beneficial in any way.  As she got older, and her language awareness and vocabulary has increased immensely, I began using more and more words to explain things to her.  This is a good thing when she is asking "why it rains" or "where bacon comes from", but when she needs to stop climbing on the arm of the couch it isn't always necessary to explain what is inside the couch and what it is designed for and why it is called the arm of the couch, etc...

Sometimes a clear request of what I would like her to do is all that she needs to hear.  I think this is especially helpful to a little girl who is very sensitive to being told to stop doing something or even to be careful while doing something.  Sometimes my explanation goes on for so long that she actually tells me, "I know, I know, why are you still telling me?", hahaha!  I should take a clue from that I guess.

Jane Nelson reminds us that you can only use little or no words at all once your child knows what is expected of her/him.  She gives the example of siblings fighting in the car frequently.  At a moment of calm before they go in the car she explains to them that when they fight in the car it is really hard for her to drives safely.  She warns them before that she will bring a book along on their next trip and simply pull over if they begin to fight.  She says she will not drive again until they are both clam enough to tell her that they are finished fighting and ready to drive quietly.  When they begin fighting in the car on the next drive, she pulls over and silently starts to read her book.  She does not say a word and quickly the children realize what is happening and stop fighting and agree to ride in peace.  I have told my story of using this technique with my daughter in my Natural Consequences post.  Read it if you are up for a chuckle.

Less is more when it comes to words with children.  That should be easier too.  I will work on it!

Next week we will work on Understanding The Brain, yippee!  It will be fun, I promise!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wheel of Choice

This weeks tool: The Wheel of Choice is an actual physical tool that puts many of the other Positive Discipline Tools together.  It is a hands on approach to giving children the power of choice.  Basically it is an actual wheel, much like a board game spinner, that is divided into options for your child to choose when has lost control of themselves in their current situation.  There are 14 different problem solving choices that can be taught to children in your home or in a classroom.  Just like the Montessori concept,  "knowledge precedes choice", once children have knowledge of each choice they can use this information to solve their own problems.

A few of may favorite choices are: Ask for help, Count to ten, Say what you want, and Try again.  These don't really need much explanation, but take a moment to think about how powerful they can be to a child who has flipped his lid.

I have not gotten around to setting this up yet in my home.  We have done the training and have an arsenal tools we could put on our own wheel.  I am sure this could help with some of the heightened emotions that have been in our home since the introduction of our second child.  I really should get to this...  I will let you know when I do and how it goes, I promise.

Next week:  Act without words, I'll say no more...

Friday, June 8, 2012


The most recent Positive Discipline Parenting Tool we worked with is Hugs.  I know, a hug doesn't sound like much of a tool, but it really can be.  The main idea behind using a hug as a tool is that "Children do better when they feel better"!  Many times a hug can transform a hostile situation into a loving interaction.

We use hugs from time to time in our household.  That is they key to effectiveness here.  If you ask for/offer a hug every time your child has a melt down, it will quickly lose its effectiveness.  If you keep it tucked in your back pocket, and when you both are in the middle of a heightened emotional situation, ask for a hug.  You might be surprised by the reaction that you get.  We have also taught our daughter to ask for a hug when she starts to get out of control, sometimes she remembers and it works!

The neatest thing I have seen with our daughter happened when she didn't know I was even watching.  One day she was playing with a friend and her friend started getting upset about something.  My daughter offered a couple of solutions, but the friend kept getting angry, finally my daughter said to her friend, "do you want a hug?".  Her friend sound a little stunned, but accepted the hug.  Things were quickly diffused and they went back to playing.  It was a proud mama moment!

Hugs are good for children, and adults; try it!

Next week we look at The Wheel Of Choice.


Allowances is on of the Positive Discipline parenting tools that almost every family has tried or at least considered.  The Positive Discipline way of doing allowances is to give an amount of money to the child each week that is only dependent on your budget and expectations of what the child is to use the money for.  The money is given to the child as their share of the family's money, and it is not given as a payment for doing chores.  Chores are a part of living and as adults we don't get paid for keeping our house clean and chores done.  I discussed this idea more in my Jobs entry.  The allowance money is the child's in every sense and you have to let your child take responsibility for the money and learn from their spending/losing mistakes.  Jane Nelson says that we should show empathy, but avoid rescuing children from these mistake.

In our house we started giving allowance when our daughter turned four.  We give her $5/week.  That is her money, for her to do what she wants with.  With that she also gained the responsibility of buying her own non-essential things.   For the first year she just stashed the money in a piggy bank and watched it add up.  Occasionally she would ask us if she could get something when we were out shopping and we would ask her if she brought her money with her.  If not, then she wouldn't be able to get anything.  We then got in the habit of reminding her that she might want to bring her money when we went out.  This works so well for avoiding those in store arguments/pleas for toys, etc.  By the holiday season the first year of allowance she was able to purchase small gifts for our immediate family with her own money.  She was very proud of that.  She continued to save her allowance, tooth fairy money and gift money for the remainder of the year.  By her fifth birthday she had saved enough money to buy an American Girl Doll!  We took her to THE store and she picked out just the doll she wanted.  She was so excited to pay with her money. 

That was about the time that I thought that there may need to be a little more direction/teaching with the allowance she was getting.  We started by reading a book called Give A Goat.  It is about a class who raises the money to buy a goat through Heifer International for an impoverished family in Uganda.  The story really interested my daughter, so we next checked out the Heifer website.  That is where we found this  video, for children, about buying animals for people who are less fortunate.  The video sealed the deal, and Isabel was then determined to buy a water buffalo for a less fortunate family.  

We got three big jars and made labels: Spend, Save, Give!  We talked about why it is good to save a portion of our money for things don't already know we will need.  We have a portion for spending as we wish and the rest for giving, as in buying a water buffalo.  Now she divides the money: $2-saving, $2-giving, and $1-spending.  Next month she is planning a a lemonade stand; she will put all her earnings from that into the give jar!

Allowances can teach so many things to a child.  They valuable and necessary parenting tool.  Next we will try HUGS!