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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Positive Discipline

When we had our first baby there was a LOT of pressure to do things the way that everyone in our circle was doing things, as I'm sure many of you know what that's like.  And it doesn't stop, either.

Around every corner there's pressure to conform - pressure to just go with what everyone else is doing instead of doing what we truly believe is right for us and our children.
co-sleeping, "positive discipline"
Co-sleeping (on purpose) was definitely not a popular choice among those I was hanging with at the time.
So when my little Cuters was born, my natural instinct was to raise him more aligned with the attachment parenting philosophy.  We were pretty by-the-book (The Baby Book, that is) with him.

Then as he got older and we had to start disciplining him, it got a lot hazier.  I had read The Successful Child, Dr. Sears' answer to that dilemma, but I was still struggling....a lot.

I was listening to the myriad of other parental voices (many of which I respected a lot) that had oh so much advice for me (of which I'm shamelessly guilty of doling out my fair share), and I couldn't tell if my instincts were just wrong and I needed a different approach.

Or maybe attachment parenting was good for the first year, but after that it needing revising.  I didn't know.  (Nor am I out to change your opinion if you're adamantly opposed.)
"positive discipline"
Well, I think the real problem was just that I hadn't understood exactly how all this positivity got my kid to stop climbing on top of the table.  It seemed way too permissive for me, and I ended up letting my children have the run of the house.

As Dr. Jane Nelson says,
"I was so permissive until I couldn't stand my kids anymore, so I became so strict that I couldn't stand myself anymore."  
Have you so been there?  Oh my freaking goodness, that describes the last 7 years of my life, quite well.  I was a bit of a flip flopper.

So we were talking with a new friend, Tracy, about this topic, and she mentioned the philosophy of parenting called Positive Discipline (I HIGHLY recommend following this link to learn more about it).  It's not exactly connected to Attachment Parenting, but it's approach to discipline is very similar.

The basic premises are:
1.  Be kind but firm
2.  Help children feel a sense of belonging and significance
3.  The tools work longterm (short term is not the immediate goal)
4.  Gives valuable social and life skills for good character
5.  Children develop a sense that they are capable
I don't always remember the exact formulas that she gives to solve problems, but what has stuck with me is to always treat my children with respect because they are, afterall, people, too, who all deserve and desire it.

I don't let them have total free reign, either.  I give them a framework, and they are free to make choices that I give them within that framework. For example:
Tiger:  What's for dinner?
Me: Grilled chicken legs, grilled broccoli, and grilled avocado
Tiger:  I don't want any of that.
Me:  That's fine.  You don't have to eat it.  You can probably make it until breakfast and be just fine.
Tiger:  Well, I want the avocado.
Do you see both the kindness and the firmness?  I wasn't nagging him to try anything or forcing him to eat anything that he didn't want to eat, but I also wasn't going to go cook a second dinner just for him.

I'm so incredibly excited about this, and it just totally fits in with the foundation that Michael and I had already set for our family.  It just feels right, and that gives me so much peace and hope for our future.

I hope to be writing more about it in the near future.  I hope it helps someone!

P.S. If you go to her website, she's got a resource for everyone - books, podcasts, audiobooks, videos, online classes, phone app, CDs/DVDs, you name it.  Plus, she has resources for TEACHERS!!!


  1. I bet you wish I had read that book :)

  2. Annie,
    I'm so glad that I found Positive Discipline. My kids are now ages 20 and 17 and I never regret using Positive Discipline. It's more challenging of course because most of us have a steep learning curve, but now I realize I've learned tons of skills along the way.

    1. That's awesome, Kelly! I'm glad for a good testimonial. :)


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