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What is Online Parent Camp? Think It Through Parenting’s micro-learning workshop

September 21, 2016

parent-camp-with-website-and-datesWhat’s Online Parent Camp?

Last week, I announced a new learning opportunity for parents – Online Parent Camp. My first ever Online Parent Camp will be offered on October 10 – 17, 2016. So because it’s new, I’m sure you’re wondering, “What exactly is Online Parent Camp? What does parent camp look like? How do I find out more?”

Why I’m Offering Online Parent Camp

I first thought of the idea of parent camp around five years ago. In my community parent magazine, I noticed lots of ads for summer camps, especially day camps for children. Plenty of kids love to go to a specialized camp to learn about an interest such as gymnastics, art or music. I wondered if parents might also like to learn new skills in a camp-like atmosphere – fun, relaxed, playful and in a community of other parents; but like many ideas we create, we have to put them aside and focus on other things until the right time arrives. So now is the right time for me to finally offer this learning opportunity to parents!

I’m super excited about offering Online Parent Camp this October. My two career loves are Positive Discipline parenting and training strategies for adult learners, so Online Parent Camp brings those two interests together in a really fun way. Online Parent Camp combines a variety of effective learning strategies for adults and the learning is all focused on an issue that is important to parents. I don’t know if you’ve heard of micro-learning, but in general micro-learning is defined as learning in short, digestible, bite-sized units. Online Parent Camp is designed to be a short learning opportunity with a tight focus. The idea of learning in small chunks is a good fit for parents with busy schedules, so that makes Online Parent Camp a very “doable” learning opportunity – a short time frame and a tight focus on an issue that is important. The first camp, coming this October will focus on tantrums and will last for eight days.

What is Online Parent Camp? What Does It Look Like?parent-camp-meeting-image-only

So what is the structure of Parent Camp? What exactly is the time commitment and what online learning tools will be used? I wanted to create a learning opportunity that would be totally doable for parents as far as time. So all of the learning “chunks” are in either 5-minute blocks or 35-minute blocks. Also all of the learning takes place in two different “spots” online. From all of the knowledge I’ve gained about teaching adults, I firmly believe that group learning offers much more to each individual so I wanted to offer Online Parent Camp in a community format. The two learning “spaces” for Online Parent Camp are . . .

  1. Zoom Online Meetings in real time in the Think It Through Parenting Zoom Meeting Room. (The meetings will be recorded for those who can’t make it to the live meetings.) Each Zoom online meeting will only last for 35 minutes.
  2. Private Facebook Group: As I planned Online Parent Camp, I wanted to use a tool that most parents are familiar with and that parents already are accessing on a daily or weekly basis. So for this first session of Online Parent Camp, we’ll use a private facebook group. (I may explore using a different option such as a Google+ Group in the future.) For each day of the eight day Parent Camp, I’ll post an learning task for parents that will require only 5 minutes of your time. Each learning task will ask that you type a short answer into the facebook learning group. Most of those learning tasks will help set up the learning that will take place in the Zoom online meetings and also will build on the learning that has previously happened in the Zoom online meetings. (You won’t be asked to share anything personal that you aren’t comfortable sharing.)

What’s the Exact Schedule for Online Parent Camp?

Here’s the time layout for the eight days of the Tantrums session of Online Parent Camp this October:

Day 1Monday, October 10: 5-minute learning task (facebook learning group)
Day 2Tuesday, October 11: 5-minute learning task (facebook learning group) AND 35 minute live Zoom meeting
Day 3Wednesday, October 12: 5-minute learning task (facebook learning group) AND 35 minute live Zoom meeting
Day 4Thursday, October 13: 5-minute learning task (facebook learninparent-camp-title-banner-onlyg group) AND 35 minute live Zoom meeting
Day 5Friday, October 14:  5-minute learning task (facebook learning group)
Day 6Saturday, October 15:  5-minute learning task (facebook learning group)
Day 7Sunday, October 16:  5-minute learning task (facebook learning group)
Day 8Monday, October 17: 5 minute learning task (facebook learning group) AND 35 minute live Zoom meeting


What Will the Learning Tasks and Live Zoom Meetings Look Like?private-mums-facebook-group

Learning Tasks: For many of the learning tasks, you’ll see that I’ve posted a video in the private facebook group. You’ll click on and watch the short video. In the videos, I’ll do a quick mini-lesson to teach you about an aspect of tantrums, and at the end I’ll ask you a question. I’ll invite you to type a short answer in the comments below the video. Everyone in the learning group will see the answers of the others and this creates a nice group learning experience. Did you know that you usually learn more in a community of learners in which people share and exchange ideas?


Live Zoom Meetings: In each 35-minute Live Zoom Meeting, you’ll get some real time teaching from me. I’ll be teaching Positive Discipline parenting activities through interaction with you and with the live group. I’ll invite everyone to attend the meeting using their cameras so we can all see each other, but I totally understand if you want to attend with your camera turned off. That’s not a problem. Both the live Zoom meetings and the facebook learning groups are designed to be a collaborative learning experience for you, but you get to choose the way that makes you feel most comfortable and get the most from Online Parent Camp. If you haven’t heard of Zoom, it’s kind of like Skype, but lots of people can be on the video call/video meeting.

pinterest-screenshotA Pinterest Board: The final online tool used in Parent Camp will be a collaborative Pinterest board that will be added to each day. All group members enrolled in Parent Camp will be invited to pin reflections, articles and useful pins to the board. Anyone (the public) can follow the board and see the progress of the group. Click on the words “Follow on Pinterest” to the right of this article and at the bottom of the rectangle about Pinterest.

parent-camp-scheduleSo that’s what Online Parent Camp will look like! I’ve planned this learning event in a way that makes it very doable as far as your time commitment, but also Online Parent Camp is packed with lots of learning that will help you respond in a more positive way to tantrums and in a way that helps your child learn important life skills for handling strong emotions. All of those little chunks of time will add up to a big chunk of valuable learning for you.



Special Pricing for the First Ever Session of Online Parent Camp

The time investment for Parent Camp is doable AND the price investment is too. For this first session of Parent Camp, I’m offering special pricing that makes this available to most any parent with a computer or smart  phone. Stay tuned for totally doable pricing for Online Parent Camp – an 8 Day Learning Adventure!

I’m really excited to bring this micro-learning opportunity to busy parents. Sign up for my mailing list to get pricing and registration details first, sent directly to your inbox.

Enrollment starts on Monday, September 26

Sign up


Kelly Pfeiffer

Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

Founder, Think It Through Parenting

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September 12 is Our National Day of Encouragement

September 12, 2016

national-day-of-encouragementHow Can We Observe National Encouragement Day?

A Day of Encouragement was first proclaimed in 2007 by the governor of Arkansas. This first observance was initiated by the Encouragement Foundation at Harding University. At a later date, President George W. Bush officially signed a document declaring September 12 to be our National Day of Encouragement. But like other national days such as National Milkshake Day, National Video Game Day, which are also observed on September 12, National Day of Encouragement hasn’t received much attention.

We Need It, But Do We Know How to Define Encouragement?

Surely in this year of 2016, we can agree that we all would like to receive more encouragement and that what the world definitely needs now is . . .  a huge dose of encouragement; but if you have the desire to encourage someone, do you know exactly how to do that? We might be able to identify times when we have felt encouraged by someone else, but can you explain exactly why or how an action or statement is encouraging? Austrian Psychiatrist, Rudolph Dreikurs is famous for saying, “A child needs encouragement as a plant needs water.” How is that true and what exactly is encouragement?


I regularly teach the concept of encouragement in my work as a Positive Discipline Trainer. The Parenting the Positive Discipline Way curriculum has several experiential activities that help parents more deeply understand this idea of encouragement – what it is and what it is not. Because I can’t take you through the activities in this blog post, instead I’ll share some helpful web resources to help you more deeply understand the idea of encouragement.

How Encouraging Words are Different from Praise

Many parents equate encouraging statements with heaping on tons of praise such as, “You’re great! You’re awesome” but those declarations don’t exactly align with what Positive Discipline and Carol Dweck have to say about encouragement.

In her blog post entitled, “Encouragement: What Does It Mean and How Is It Done?” Positive Discipline author, Jane Nelsen writes, “Encouragement is helping your children develop courage—courage to grow and develop into the people they want to be—to feel capable, to be resilient, to enjoy life, to be happy, contributing members of society, and, as Dreikurs said, ‘To have the courage to be imperfect,’ to feel free to make mistakes and to learn from them.” Look over this list of “praising statements” and “encouraging statements” and see if you can see or feel the difference between the two approaches.

Carol Dweck’s research illustrates that praising kids for “being smart” often backfires and prevents kids from taking new risks to learn more. Instead, she suggests that parents focus their comments around the life skill of effort, persistence and strategies used to learn a skill or task – “You tried different strategies and you figured out how to solve the problem” is one example in a US News and World Report article about Dweck’s work.

So, as one of the dictionary definitions suggests, encouragement “inspires with courage” and helps “spur on” others. Encouragement helps others keep going. It helps empower people to try again if they failed or celebrate an accomplishment or small step. Encouragement isn’t a judgement statement that you “like” or “love” something. Here are a few examples of encouraging statements.

  • “You sure worked hard on that goal and you did it!”
  • “Wow, you peed in the potty! I’m excited for you. How do you feel?”
  • “You didn’t make the grade that you wanted. I can see on your face that you’re disappointed. What would help you right now?” 
  • “It’s okay to make mistakes and everyone makes them.”

As you might notice in the statements above, encouragement usually involves emotional attunement – attuning to another person’s feelings and efforts.

Encouragement Can Also Be Actions

Encouragement isn’t just about words alone. Many simple actions we do can offer encour654319_99064444agement to others.

  • A hug
  • Attending a child or friend’s sporting event or musical performance
  • Spending quality time together – having fun
  • Listening (without judgment) to another person share their feelings
  • Sending a card in the mail for no reason
  • Holding a door open for someone

How Will You Be Encouraging to Others?

Encouragement can look and sound like a lot of different things. Use your own style and way of communicating to offer encouragement to others. You probably have your favorite ways of encouraging others. The best way to encourage others is from a place of feeling genuinely “you” while you do it. So I hope you will take the idea of encouragement and plan to do at least one encouraging thing this week for someone that you care for. Let’s start an encouragement epidemic!



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Change Your Parenting Mindset from Consequences to Solutions

September 8, 2016

Are You Stuck in the Consequences Trap?focus-on-solutions

When your child misbehaves, do you issue consequences only to see no change in behavior? As a parent, it’s super frustrating to take time to decide on an appropriate consequence, muster fortitude to enforce the consequence then reap few results from your efforts. You end up feeling miserable, your child feels miserable and little gets accomplished.

The Consequences Trap

Many of us have been conditioned that misbehavior warrants some type of punishment or consequence. Odds are that you were punished as a child. Teachers throughout history have used tactics that include students wearing a dunce cap, writing sentences and losing recess. Now media news coverage often includes stories of children being forced to stand on street corners wearing signs around their necks. Some of your religious beliefs may even support a punishment model. But as some of you may also know from experience, punishment and consequences mostly breed resentment, revenge, rebellion and retreat, writes Jane Nelsen in Positive Discipline [Ballentine Books, 2006.] This is only one of the reasons that consequences don’t yield a high return.

Another reason that consequences do not produce the results we’d like is that consequences focus on what a child should not do. Many consequences are about losing a privilege, suffering, enduring, doing without, etc. But that doesn’t help a child know what to do instead. Did you learn to ride a bike by not riding it? Nope. You got on the bike and tried and tried again until you mastered the skill. Changing behavior involves learning new skills. Negative consequences do not teach what to do instead in the future. So basically, when we’re using consequences, we are saying to kids, “Don’t do this again” but we aren’t helping them learn something different to try the next time they find themselves in a similar situation.

Shifting to a Focus on Solutions Mindset

So if not consequences, then what? How can parents help kids actually change behavior? There’s a more simple idea, but requires that parents make a big shift in how we view the idea of “discipline.” It works better if we actually work with kids to focus on solutions to the problem behavior. In the process of focusing on solutions, we focus on what we do want to happen instead and we help children learn new life skills in the process.

Here’s a five minute video of me explaining more about this concept to “Focus on Solutions” using a Positive Discipline Tool Card.

I’m a Certified Positive Discipline Trainer and all of the Positive Discipline parenting tools focus on solutions in some way or another. In the video, I mentioned a newsletter issue that offers more about the tool of “focusing on solutions.” You can get this “focus on solutions” newsletter issue (it’s free) and get more support by clicking here. I send out a new parenting tool each week via the newsletter, so if you’d like to sign up for that (again, it’s absolutely free) sign up for the parenting tool newsletter here. (I will never share your e-mail address with anyone, ever.) In closing, I’d love to offer you four tips that will help you on your parenting journey to start focusing on solutions.

4 Tips to Shift to the Mindset of Focusing on Solutions

  1. Decide What Behavior You DO Want to See -Ask yourself, “What do I want my child to do instead of the current behavior?” You can call this a “replacement behavior.”focus-on-solutions-bench
  2. Plan for New Learning – Ask, “How can my child learn this replacement behavior? What skills does he/she need?” Start teaching those skills. Give your child opportunities to practice the new skills.
  3. Allow for Mistakes – on your part and for your child. Mistakes are a part of the learning process. When we are learning something new, we usually make plenty of mistakes along the way. Accept mistakes as part of the learning process. (Remember how many mistakes you made learning to ride a bike!)
  4. Be an Encouraging Parent – Adopt an attitude of encouragement when teaching your child new skills and working through the mistakes that will arise during the learning process. Be patient with the process and encourage your child to be patient too and to celebrate baby steps.

You can be a calm and encouraging parent.

-Kelly Pfeiffer

Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer


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Pokemon Go! Can Stay

August 12, 2016

Pokemon go can stay banner


-A commentary on the game and the various reactions about Pokemon Go. I welcome Barbara Sakai as a guest parenting blogger.

I keep seeing nasty posts about the stupidity of Pokemon Go! and the people who play.

It makes me so sad when people post things like this.

Look, you don’t have to like that people are playing a game like this, but really, I don’t get the national shaming fest involved in it right now. There’s nothing inherently stupid about the game itself, despite the very few people who’ve met with sad fates while playing, or the very few nefarious individuals who take advantage of the players. And please keep in mind it was created with young adults and older teens in mind as the ones the creators were aiming to involve, not young kids.

There are positive things about it–a lot of them actually. On a national basis the game has gotten a lot of kids out of their houses who would normally have to be blasted out. I understand it has been particularly great for kids on the autistic spectrum, shy kids, and kids with social anxiety disorders by giving them something in common to share during social interactions to grease the wheels. I understand hundreds of stray and abandoned animals are being discovered and rescued by Pokemon go! players as they hunt for Pokemon, and some shelters have gotten some Go players offering to volunteer for them as a result of playing. I have even read that it’s been a boon to some small businesses, sparking an increase in traffic that has increased sales. I’m sure there are other great things happening as a result of the game, as well–we only hear about the bad stuff on television because its considered to be better at creating ratings, and is therefore better “news.”


On a personal basis, for me and for family Pokemon Go turned what had potential to be a long, lonely summer into something completely different for my two kids (who are 14 and 19.) My daughter’s friends, having scattered to the four winds as they left for college, are now back for the summer, but working, so finding times to get together that work for both is hard. My son just got over some tough times which somewhat isolated him from some of his friends–working your way back in is a dicey business for anyone. With this game they are both reigniting old friendships, making new ones, and are now getting invited to participate in activities outside of the game as a result. Additionally they are getting out into the fresh air on their own, being active and getting exercise. They are also learning things about the area in which we’ve lived their entire lives that they never knew – “Mom, did you know there was a nature reserve and walk at (this location) within walking distance of our house?”

I admit I worry that all this negativity being rained down upon the players will ruin the first nice, positive, non-destructive game that involves no violence and encourages people to get together and get outside to come down the pike for this age group in a long time. So what that it involves technology? It’s the world we live in. I’m betting that back during the industrial revolution there was a lot of the same sort of griping about technological advances too. I’m betting when electronic music players like gramophones etc. were first invented there were plenty of old fogies willing to bash young people for not waiting to hear a live band play to go dancing or enjoy music.

Let’s not ruin a great thing because we can’t stop being cynical old fogies. Don’t like it? Don’t play. But leave the folks who do play to enjoy themselves without people bashing them every step they take. 

Barbara is the mother of two children, a high schooler, aged 14, and a college student, aged 19, as well as three cats.

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Staying Calm During a Meltdown

August 3, 2016

Welcome Casey O’Roarty, Certified Positive Discipline Trainer as my guest blogger for this article.

Casey Staying Calm Meltdown

Staying Calm During a Meltdown

Did I catch you with that title?

Did you see it and think, “yeah right, as if that is possible!!”

You aren’t alone if you are feeling as though it is next to impossible to stay calm while your child is falling apart.  And you for sure aren’t alone if you have ever met your child’s meltdown with your own meltdown.

And I am here to say, that with practice, you can absolutely stay calm while your child melts down.

Here is the deal, no matter who you are, or what your parenting style is, meltdowns are a part of childhood.  There are a variety of reasons that our kids melt down…  But at the heart of them all is simply their lack of skills for navigating the wave of emotion that show up when they are angry, sad, scared, disappointed, or simply overwhelmed.

Our children don’t have meltdowns because they are naughty.  They have meltdowns because they are unskilled.

And when you consider it takes 25 years for brains to become fully developed, it makes perfect sense that they don’t have the emotional skills they need to “shake it off” or “calm down” – even through we desperately want them to!!

It’s all about the practice

There are things we can do for our kids and for ourselves to help meltdowns be more manageable, and not such a trigger for us.  Before we go there though, it is important to keep in mind that meltdowns are the birthplace of resiliency for our children.  When we can allow our kids to feel their feelings, staying regulated and available ourselves, they learn that they can make it to the other side.  They learn that emotions come and go. They learn that they will be ok.

Well intended, loving parents, who try and talk their kids out of meltdowns, or bribe them out by offering treats, “giving in” on a limit they set because their child is freaking out, or getting angry, are doing a disservice to their kids, and sending a message around their belief about their child’s ability to handle stress and disappointment.

And that is no bueno.

So what?  What do we do?

The first thing is to notice the pattern around when your child is triggered into meltdown.  Is it a time of day?  A particular situation?

From here, get proactive and talk with your child about what you notice.  Get curious about their experience, and then make a plan for what they can do the next time they feel that way.

When both of you are calm, the conversation could sound like:

Parent: “Wow bud, I notice that it is really hard for you when you ask for a treat and we say no…  What do you notice when that happens?

Child: “Yeah, I get really mad at you cuz I want a treat!”

Parent: “I know, remember yesterday?  You were really mad!  You yelled and stomped around…  What did that feel like in your body?”

Child: “I was really mad!  I wanted to hit someone!  I wanted to hurt you!”

Parent: “Yeah, you were disappointed about not getting that treat when you wanted it!! And you know what? There are going to be times when we are going to say no to treats, and you will feel mad again.  I wonder if we can come up with a plan that will help you when you feel mad, so that you aren’t also hurtful – what are your ideas?”

From this place, parent and child make a list of ideas for the child to consider the next time they are feeling overwhelmed by emotion.  And then practice.

This is a mindset shift, this is parenting for skill development, rather than the short term tool of “what can I do to him so he won’t have meltdowns anymore?”

It is an old school model to assume that your child’s meltdowns are something they should be punished for.  Children are doing the best they can with the skills they have. So why not get more intentional about teaching how to navigate those big emotions, rather than assume kids can simply shut them down?

And what about you?

This article is titled Staying Calm During a Meltdown. I am guessing you would like some tools to help yourself during these big emotions…

First, I want you to know that there is a biological reason it is so hard to stay calm when our kids are freaking out.  We have mirror neurons in our brain that can make it messy to be witness to chaos, and not get sucked in.  Not to mention all the baggage we live with from our own life experiences and past relationships that can get in the way and keep us from being the people we want to be.

So let’s start with a bit of self compassion as we remember that  we are all doing the best we can with the skills we have. And to start showing up differently takes practice.

Showing up calm in the midst of meltdowns requires us to become familiar with our own patterns. What happens for us as our kids slip into their fall aparts?  What emotions become triggered?  What are the stories we are telling ourselves?  What are we afraid of? Angry about? Disappointed by?

When we start to recognize the experience we are having during our children’s meltdowns, we begin to have the ability to look at the situation, rather than from it.  This is KEY, because when we can take a few steps away, becoming more aware, so many more options become available!!

So how do we do this??  How do we look at the situation??

Perhaps our child is freaking out because we said no to that treat.

The unaware reaction may sound like, “You’re fine!  You can have a treat later! It’s not ok to act like that!” with internal dialogue that may be, geez, this kid is so out of control…  He can’t handle anything… So entitled…  Maybe I should just give him a treat because this is embarrassing and will never end…  Why is he acting like this??  I am failing as a parent…  He is a brat.

When we look at it, more aware of what is happening for us, we can say, “Wow, you are really upset about not getting a treat.  It’s ok to feel disappointed.” We may have internal dialogue that sounds like, ooh, there is the tension in my legs and my heart is starting to race, I am going to take some deep breaths to calm down my body…  My boy is having a tough time, but I have faith that he can handle this…  The calmer I stay, the quicker he will return to calm.  I am killing this mom thing right now!

Again, this takes practice. It requires us to become intimate with the experience we are having during our children’s meltdowns.  It requires us to teach ourselves to pay more attention to our body, and learn from the wisdom that lives there.

Does this sound challenging to you?  Well I have a gift you will enjoy.

It is called the #JoyfulCourage10.  It is a FREE 10 day program to help parents just like you learn to become more aware of their own internal experience, and use that awareness to forward themselves and their kids into more connected, cooperative relationship.

“The Joyful Courage 10 was a terrific experience. Each day new tenets were introduced with practical ways to apply them in everyday life. I absolutely loved starting every morning with a new intention, a deeper purpose, and a guide for the not-so-simple moments that arise in parenthood. I highly recommend!” – Sara B., mama of two

#JoyfulCourage10 is 10 days of exploring and practicing the parent you want to be through daily support and inspiration. You will receive text messages (US participants) and SHORT emails to encourage and inspire you around the daily theme, as well as deeper conversation and live support in the Joyful Courage Facebook group. Best of all? YOU decide your level of engagement.

Check it out and join us!!

Peace, love and parenting,  Casey

Casey O’Roarty, M.Ed, is a wife, mama, Positive Discipline Trainer and Coach, doing her best to walk her talk on the daily with her own two kids.  For more information on offers, her blog, or to check out the podcast, head over to




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Routine Charts Versus Reward Charts for Children

June 5, 2016

000023102The Benefits of Teaching Life Skills Over Modifying Behavior

Routine charts and rewards charts may look similar but a big difference is the way that each is used. The Positive Discipline philosophy recommends using routine charts instead of reward charts.

What is a Reward Chart?

A reward chart is a visual behavioral system that tracks desired behaviors and ties those behaviors to a particular reward. When a child earns enough stickers, stars or points on the reward chart, a teacher of parent gives the child a reward.

Usually the adult decides on the required number of points or stickers to earn a particular reward. Often adults decide on the reward item, with or without the input of the child. At other times, adults allow children to choose from a treasure box of rewards.

Reward charts are recommended by the “behavior modification” theory of human behavior. Behaviorist theory strongly supports the idea that child behavior stems from positive and negative feedback in a child’s life. A typical “behavior modification” approach uses a system of punishment and rewards to change a child’s behavior.

download (1)What is a Routine Chart?

A routine chart tracks the individual steps of a simple routine such as a morning routine or bedtime routine for children. The steps of the routine may be represented through pictures or words.

A routine chart breaks down a large task into small steps. The task of  “getting ready for bed” can be divided into several small steps such as “put on pajamas”, “brush teeth” and “read a story”. A morning routine might include “get dressed”, “eat breakfast” and “put on shoes”.

Some parents and teachers turn routine charts into reward charts too. However many child development experts warn that reward charts only work as long as children are being rewarded and do not work well to teach life skills that help children be self sufficient in the long run. (Add quote from Jane Nelsen of Alfie Kohn)

Reasons Reward Charts are Unhealthy for Children

Child development experts who do not recommend using rewards argue that giving prizes and stickers for behavior holds several unhealthy components. Instead of focusing children on the task at hand, rewarding children focuses their attention to the desired reward. Kids end up doing something because of what they will get, not because it builds independence, helps others or teaches kids a new life skill. If a child makes his bed because he will get paid to make it, what happens when no one will pay the child to make his bed?

“There are at least 70 studies showing that extrinsic motivators—including A’s, sometimes praise, and other rewards—are not merely ineffective over the long haul but counterproductive with respect to the things that concern us most: desire to learn, commitment to good values, and so on,” says Alfie Kohn in an interview with Educational Leadership. Alfie Kohn is the author of Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes [Manner Books, 1999].

Routine Chart Using PhotosHow Routine Charts Teach Life Skills

Using routine charts without rewarding children has a variety of benefits. Daily routines provide structure in a child’s life, which indirectly teaches organization skills. When children follow routine charts, they learn to establish patterns of daily life, which teaches predictability. “Routines are very important to give children a sense of order and security,” writes Jane Nelsen in Positive Discipline for Child Care Providers [Prima Publishing, 2002].

Routine charts teach children to be independent. Visual charts allow children to follow a routine on their own. Parents and teachers can use routine charts to teach life skills such as completing the steps of a morning routine, a “clean up toys” routine or even steps for toilet training including using soap to wash hands.

Several experts on child development say that behavior modification- using punishments and rewards – isn’t healthy for kids. They believe that children being bribed into good behavior are missing out on opportunities to develop intrinsic pro-social skills and develop confidence about learning something new or accomplishing a tough task. Working through obstacles during a tough task builds character. Cooperating with others develops altruistic values.

Routine charts teach children what to expect next in the day decreasing stress and anxiety that often leads to tantrums. As children complete routines without being rewarded, they gain pride in the simple accomplishment of a task and learn that there are things that need to be done each day.

Kelly014Kelly Pfeiffer

Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer


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Bedtime Picture Routine Charts for Children:

May 28, 2016

000024436A Visual Schedule Helps Kids Get Ready for Bed at Night. Put children in charge of getting ready for bed with a nighttime routine chart. Use pictures to create a visual schedule of a child’s bedtime routine.

Decide the Schedule for a Child’s Bedtime Routine

Create a bedtime schedule with your child. Ask your child what things he or she needs to do each night to get ready for bed. Invite your child to think about what things need to be done first in the bedtime routine and what things need to be done later in the bedtime routine.

Find or Make Pictures for a Bedtime Routine Chart

There are many ways to create a visual schedule for a child’s routine chart. Choose any of the suggestions below or think of your own.

  • Children can draw their own pictures.
  • Adults can draw pictures. Even simple stick figures work well for children’s routine charts.
  • Take photographs of children completing the bedtime routine.
  • Cut pictures out of magazines or catalogs.
  • Print clipart from computer software.
  • Print free clipart on the free clip art page of, a computer software program made especially for creating picture routine charts.

BedtimeRoutineChartBrushTeethMake a Bedtime Picture Routine Chart with Your Child

Get your child involved in making the picture routine chart. Children can cut pictures out of magazines and paste pictures onto their bedtime routine chart. Children will have more ownership in their visual nighttime schedule and will be more likely to cooperate with their bedtime routine chart if they have been involved in making the chart.

Decide on a Beginning Time and Ending Time for the Bedtime Routine

It’s important to have a starting and ending time for the bedtime routine. Estimate how long the bedtime routine might take and add five more minutes. Start the bedtime routine so that your child will be in bed at their bedtime. The ending time will be the time you decide is your child’s bedtime. Try out the bedtime routine and see how it works, then make adjustments if needed.


If you want your child in bed at 8:30 pm and the bedtime routine takes 20 minutes, the start time for the bedtime routine will be 8:10 pm.

  • 8:10 Start Bedtime Routine
  • Brush Teeth
  • Wash Face
  • Put on Pajamas
  • Read 2 Books
  • Hugs and Kisses
  • Lights out
  • 8:30 pm End Bedtime Routine

Make sure your child knows that the bedtime routine has an ending time. Create your child’s bedtime routine so that the important steps such as brushing teeth and putting on pajamas are early in the bedtime routine and extras such as reading books are at the end of the bedtime routine. In the example above, the bedtime routine ends at 8:30 pm and bedtime is at 8:30 pm. So if a child has only brushed his teeth, washed his face and put on his pajamas by 8:30 pm, then the bedtime routine is over and it is now the child’s bedtime. Of course, it is the parent’s or caregiver’s job to make sure that the routine starts on time. Be flexible when you need to with bedtime routine charts. Use them as a guide and not a rulebook.

Practice the Bedtime Routine Chart Each Night

In order for children to learn a bedtime routine and be in charge of a picture routine chart, children must use the chart. Although it can be boring for adults to follow the bedtime routine chart each time, having a bedtime routine provides comfort and structure for young children.

The book Positive Discipline for Preschoolers [Harmony, 2007] recommends the following tips for creating bedtime routine with children.

  • Keep the bedtime routine list short; It should have no more than six or seven tasks on it.
  • Make the routine chart together with your child. Include your child in the task of drawing pictures or cutting and pasting pictures from magazines.
  • Let the routine chart be the boss instead of the parent. Ask your child, “What’s next on your chart?”
  • Do not try to establish more than one routine at a time.

Remember, a routine chart isn’t a reward chart; it’s a way for children and adults to learn what comes next and to work together without argument.


Kelly093 cropped

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Coloring Books: Great for Adults – Not Great for Preschoolers

March 23, 2016

Coloring Books Great for Adults


Adult coloring books – they’re everywhere! Grocery store checkout lines, bookstore shelves, craft store displays and online booksellers are all stocked with a plentiful variety of adult coloring books. A search for “coloring books” on Pinterest yields tons of results about the benefits of coloring, shading techniques, and free coloring book  printables. Even actress Zooey Deschanel recently shared a photo of her coloring book page with her facebook fans. Fans of “coloring inside the lines” tout that the process of rubbing pigment onto paper is relaxing, calming and even meditative.

Coloring Books are Best for Adults, Not Kidsadult coloring books

Adults use coloring books, to calm, to relax, to de-stress and that works well, for adults. Coloring books are generally n
ot the best tool to hand to a preschooler. Yes, yes, I know, preschoolers are given coloring books everyday in every city on the globe. I’d like to shed some light on the reasons why you might want to rethink the purchase of a coloring book for the growing and expanding brain of a young child.

Before I dive in, I’d like to tell you that the “no coloring books” recommendation is nothing new. Early childhood experts and educators have been recommending age appropriate art experiences that do not include coloring books for years and years – for over 50 years. The idea of not providing coloring books to preschoolers is not a new one. Early childhood professors across many continents have been solidly teaching this concept to college students for decades.

If Not Coloring Books, then What?

So if teachers and parents want to best stimulate creativity, self-expression, and art concepts such as space, color, texture, shape, space, etc. what activities accomplish this goal? Most of those activities start with something simple – a blank piece of paper. A blank piece of paper has endless possibilities for choice of color, texture, shape, space, etc.  A blank piece of paper allows for self-expression. A blank piece of paper allows for discovery – to see what unfolds, and allows for choice – what do I want to do or add next?

Process Art – The Choice of Early Childhood Experts

This process of choice and unfolding is called “process art” and it’s what is recommended by the National Associatio
n for the Education of Young Children
and by early childhood experts and most early childhood teachers. If you search Pinterest for “process art” you’ll see examples of the wide range of possibilities for allowing preschoolers to explore art materiaPixabay Image FREE for COMM USEls. You’ll notice photos of

  • Spraying paint onto paper from a spray bottle
  • Adding paint to shaving cream for finger painting
  • Dipping brooms into paints and painting on large pieces of paper hung on the wall
  • Dipping corn cobs into paint and rolling the cobs on paper



Why is Process Art Recommended for Preschoolers?

Process art has no end product in mind. It’s also referred to as “open ended art.” It’s the process of exploring and discovering that is beneficial to preschoolers. It’s kind of like science inquiry. With process art, the young brain gets to ask questions . .

  • What will happen if I mix blue and yellow paint together?
  • How is that texture created when I paint with a comb?
  • Where do I want to place another sticker dot on my paper?
Claire marble painting

Marble painting – part art, part science experiment. Place paper in a pan with sides. The child chooses paint colors and the number of marbles they want to add. Ask questions to see how the child wants to proceed from this point.

Process art also allows for the child to be in charge of the learning and the experience of learning (instead of the adult.) Contrast process art with its nemesis, product art. Product art has an end result in mind. Coloring books are considered “product art” because the end result is already designed for a child.

Another example of product art is crafts. Crafts are generally an assembly of items that will, in the end yield a product result, a snowman for example. In some preschool classes, the teacher might cut out large white circles, hats, eyes, mouth, nose and buttons for the children to “make” a snowman. The teacher tells the kids where to glue the parts, the kids follow those directions and everyone’s snowman looks like . . . well, like a snowman. What has the child gained in this product oriented experience? Not much about art or discovery.


Social-Emotional Benefits of Process Art

In addition to discovering art concepts, process art also enhances a child’s social-emotional learning. Consider the following list of possible conclusions children might discover as they create process art on a daily basis in a preschool classroom.

  • What colors, textures, shapes do I like best? What am I discovering about myself when I make choices to create art?
  • How are my choices different from my peers’ choices? What can I learn about my friend, Will from seeing his choices and methods for creating art? Wow, how is it that we all used the same materials for creating our art, but they all look so different?
  • How can I express my moods and emotions through the use of color, texture and shape? How do my creations look different when I feel different emotions?
  • How can my art recap or recount an event or story from my life?

How Product Art Creates Stress for Young Children

Art for kids is supposed to be enjoyable and beneficial. There are many ways that product art produces stress for children. 

  • Expectations from Adults – When adults expect children to color inside the lines or draw well or that a piece of art should “look like something” those expectations are hard to fulfill if you’re a toddler or preschooler.
  • Expectations from The Child – Children take cues from adults. If a child hears that the picture is supposed to look like something or that coloring is only supposed to happen inside the lines, the child often develops the same expectations. How many people think they aren’t good at art because of a childhood experience?
  • Comparisons to Others –  Product art demands a product. How many times have you watched a child crumble in tears because her craft project doesn’t look like the teacher’s model? (The point is not that children should never be disappointed. It’s that there’s no reason to set up a child for a feeling of failure or disappointment.)

Stress creates misbehavior and increases misbehavior.

Fine Motor Skills Benefits of Process Art

Using a variety of materials to create art offers substantial benefits for developing a child’s fine motor skills. Preschoolers need lots of opportunities to use their hands and fingers in different ways. When exploring with a wide variety of procePixabay Image COMM USEpaint-328676_1920ss art materials, preschoolers will get the benefits of . . .

  • holding paintbrushes, markers, pompoms, cotton swabs, etc.
  • cutting yarn, straws, different thicknesses of papers, etc.
  • manipulating play dough, squeeze bottles, spray bottles, rolling pins, etc.

Supervise the safe use of materials with preschoolers. Use non-toxic paint, glue and materials. Provide child-sized safety scissors. (Be aware that preschool scissors will cut hair.)

Are You Excited Now? Helpful Tips

If you haven’t offered process art activities before, I hope you’re now ready to provide plenty of open-ended art activities for the preschooler in your life. Here are a few tips to help you along the way.

  1. Claire GoopDon’t ask the child, “What are you drawing?” or “What are you making?” (That’s a product art type of question.) If you must comment, you might comment on what you notice. “I notice that you chose lots of blue and yellow for this one.”
  2. Don’t “judge” the art by telling you child that the art is “good” or “beautiful.” Focus on the process. Maybe ask, “What did you enjoy about creating this?” or “Do you want to tell me anything about your creation?”
  3. Create an area in your home where your child is allowed to create art or use the same space (such as the kitchen table) to create art. This can help some kids with the issue of not drawing on walls. If a child associates a space or certain spaces in the home with art, then he will hopefully internalize that the bathroom wall isn’t the place to color with a marker. Use washable markers. Keep permanent markers out of reach of your kids.
  4. Remember safety issues: Supervise art activities. Don’t use small items that may be a choking hazard for children under age three. Keep scissors and other sharp objects out of reach and only provide them when you can supervise the use.




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10 Positive Discipline Trainers Recommend Favorite Parenting Books.

February 25, 2016

10 PD Trainers Image Capitol TI surveyed 9 other Positive Discipline Trainers/Parent Educators around the United States for their recommendations on parenting books. I asked each one to first name a favorite Positive Discipline title and next a favorite parenting book outside of the Positive Discipline family of books. Here’s the list of their answers plus a Positive Discipline bonus question and answer from each person. You’ll find my favorites listed as #10.

Marcilie Smith Boyd#1 – Marcilie Smith Boyle, MBA, CPCC9780307345578

Favorite Positive Discipline book: Positive Discipline from A to Z by Jane Nelsen, Lynn Lott and Stephen Glenn  [Harmony; 3rd Revised ed. edition, 2007]

Favorite parenting book outside of the Positive Discipline family: The Explosive Child by Ross Greene [Harper Paperbacks; 5 Rev Upd edition, 2014]

Your favorite Positive Discipline tool or principle?explosive-child-5th-ed

“This has got to be “Kids do better when they feel better.” I always like to add that it’s true for adults, too. When we are well-fed, well-rested, well-loved (belonging) and well-respected (significance), it’s sooooo much easier to show up as the parent we want to be.”

About Marcilie Smith Boyle: Marcilie offers life coaching, leadership coaching and parent coaching. Learn more at Marcilie’s website, Working Parenting.

Casey cropped#2 – Casey O’Roarty, M.Ed

PD bookFavorite Positive Discipline book: Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D. [Ballantine Books; Rev Upd edition, 2006]

Favorite parenting book outside of the Positive Discipline family: Whole Brain Child by Dr. Dan J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson [Bantam; 1 edition, 2012]


WhaTheWholeBrainChild_NYT.cover_smallt the last encouraging thing you said to you child?

“I love you so much”

About Casey O’Roarty: Visit Casey’s Joyful Courage website and facebook page to gain access to podcasts, articles and more.


#3 – Saleha Hafiz, M.Ed.

PD PreschoolersFavorite Positive Discipline book: Positive Discipline for Preschoolers by Jane Nelsen, Cheryl ESalifrwin and Roslyn Ann Duffy [Harmony; 3 Rev Exp edition, 2007]

Favorite parenting book outside of the Positive Discipline family: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish [Scribner; Updated edition, 2012]

What is your favorite way to spend special time with your child?How to Talk

“Reading books is one of my favorite ways of spending special time with my child.”

About Saleha Hariz: For more resources about Positive Discipline and Montessori Education, visit Saleha’s website, Parenting for Tomorrow and her facebook page.


#4 – Julietta Skoog, NCSP, MAJulietta cropped

Favorite Positive Discipline book: Positive Discipline The First Three Years by Jane Nelsen, Cheryl Erwin and PD 1st 3 YearsRosalyn Duffy [Harmony; Revised, Updated ed. edition, 2015]

Favorite parenting book outside of the Positive Discipline family: No Drama Discipline by Dan Siegel and Tina Bryson [Bantam, September 23, 2014]

Fill in the blank – You and your child last created a routine chart/schedule for ________.

“We last created a new routine chart for bedtime. I love that with Positive DiscNoDramaDiscipline_NYT.cover_smallipline our family is solution focused. When evenings started derailing and our kids were getting to sleep WAY too late we just re-booted! We took our old routine, made some changes together during a family meeting through brainstorming, wrote up our new one and took time for training. Within two nights and a lot of practice everyone was sleeping better and evenings are running SO smoothly!”

About Julietta Skoog: Learn more about Positive Discipline parenting from Julietta at her website and facebook page.


#5 – Debbie Zeichner, LCSW

PD bookFavorite Podebbie-headshotsitive Discipline book: Positive Discipline (the “classic”) by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D. [Ballantine Books; Rev Upd edition, 2006]

Favorite parenting book outside of the Positive Discipline family: Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids – How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting, by Dr. Laura Markham [TarcherPerigee, 2012]

Your favorite Positive Discipline tool or principle?

Peaceful Parents Happy Kids“My favorite Positive Discipline tool is “connection before correction.” What I love about this tool is that it’s actually grounded in neuroscience. We know that the brain responds to perceived threats such as yelling, lecturing, threatening etc. by shutting down; moving into “fight/flight/freeze” mode. In this mode, no true learning, rational thinking or problem solving can take place. So, when we “connect before we correct,” we help our kids (and their brains!) move from being reactive to receptive. As Jane Nelsen says, “Kids listen AFTER they feel listened to.” When kids feel connected, they have much less need to misbehave.”

About Debbie Zeichner: Debbie offers parent education, parent coaching and more through her website and her facebook page.


#6 – Paige Michaelis

Positive Discipline A-Z book by Nelsen, Lott & Glennimg-paige-cropped

Favorite Positive Discipline book: Positive Discipline A to Z by Jane Nelsen, Lynn Lott and Stephen Glenn  [Harmony; 3rd Revised ed. edition, 2007]

Favorite parenting book outside of the Positive Discipline family: Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman [Twelve; Reprint edition, 2011]

Fill iNurtureShockn the blank – I’m glad I finally let go of ___________ with my child.

“I’m glad I finally (almost!) let go of over-managing my child’s homework.”

About Paige Michaelis: Paige offers parent coaching and parenting classes. Find out more at her website, 1 Minute Mommy and her facebook page 


#7 – Carol Dores

Carol Dores croppedPD book


Favorite Positive Discipline book: Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D. [Ballantine Books; Rev Upd edition, 2006]

Favorite parenting book outside of the Positive Discipline family: Discipline without Tears by Dreikurs, Cassel and Ferguson [Plume , 1991]

Fill in the blank – My favorite thing about Positive Time Out is ___________.Discipline without tears

Positive Time Out helps each of us get back to our calm selves. It can be done anywhere. We can then regroup to calmly figure out what happened, and how to solve the problem.”

About Carol Dores: Find out more about Carol on her website and facebook page.


#7 – Sarina Behar Natkin, LICSW

SarinaFavo9780307345578rite Positive Discipline book: Positive Discipline A-Z: 1001 Solutions to Everyday Parenting Problems

Favorite parenting book outside of the Positive Discipline family:  NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children

Favorite way to empower a child? After they do something they didn’t want to or were scared to do- “wow, how did you do that? You were really scared and you did it anywNurtureShockay. What did you tell yourself?” Really helps them acknowledge their accomplishment and draw on it in the future.

About Sarina Behar Natkin: Sarina, teaches Positive Discipline parenting workshops with her colleagues at Grow Parenting in the Seattle, Washington area.



#8 –  Sahara Pirie

Sahara_03_cropPD bookFavorite Positive Discipline book: Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D. [Ballantine Books; Rev Upd edition, 2006]

Favorite parenting book outside of the Positive Discipline family: Whole Brain Child by Dr. Dan J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson [Bantam; 1 edition, 2012]

Favorite line or phrase from Positive Discipline books? “Children make decisions about themselves and how to behave based on how they see TheWholeBrainChild_NYT.cover_smallthemselves in relationship to others and how they think others feel about them.” -Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen

About Sahara Pirie: Sahara Pirie lives in Washington State. Discover more about Sahara at her website, Parenting with Heart and Soul and facebook page.


#9 – Cheryl Erwin

Jareds Cool Out Spacecheryl_portrait_072011

Favorite Positive Discipline book: Jared’s Cool Out Space by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D. and Ashlee Wilkin [Positive Discipline, 2013]

Favorite parenting book outside of the Positive Discipline family: Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain by Dr. Daniel Siegel [Tarcher, 2014.]

Favorite self care tool? My favorite self-care tools are mindfulness meditation aBrainstormnd yoga, which allow me to stay centered and present whether I’m with family or at work.

About Cheryl Erwin: Cheryl is the author of several books and hosts a weekly radio show, Parenting with Cheryl Erwin. Learn more about Cheryl at her website.


#10 – (Me) Kelly Pfeiffer

Kelly Falls Park framedPD bookFavorite Positive Discipline book: Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D. [Ballantine Books; Rev Upd edition, 2006]

Favorite parenting book outside of the Positive Discipline family: Parenting From the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell [Tarcher, 2004.]

FavParentingFromInside_LGorite Positive Discipline Activity to Teach: Human Bar Graph using questions about Positive Discipline concepts.

About Me: I live in Greenville, SC and offer parent education through the Positive Discipline Parenting in Greenville Meet Up group and through my website, Think It Through Parenting. Want to receive an e-mail each Monday from me? One that offers ideas to practice one new Positive Discipline tool each week? It’s free to sign up.


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21 Ideas to See Mistakes in a Positive Light – Positive Discipline Parenting

July 5, 2015

Mistakes_hand_heartCreative Ideas to View Mistakes as Wonderful Opportunities to Learn

Changing your interpretation of mistakes can impact your parenting in a huge and encouraging way. If you’d like to embark on this journey of seeing mistakes in a whole new light, here’s a list I created especially for parents. Seeing mistakes as wonderful opportunities to learn is an important step to practicing Positive Discipline parenting.

  1. Read the encouraging picture book, Pete the Cat (HarperCollins, 2010) to your child. Learn to sing the song that Pete sings in this Pete the Cat video.
  2. Listen to this TED Radio Hour show about Making Mistakes.
  3. Read Jane Nelsen’s article, Mistakes are Wonderful Opportunities to Learn.
  4. Watch Oprah tell a quick story about a breakthrough mistake she made.
  5. Family Meal Activity: Cultivate an attitude of normalizing mistakes. During a family meal, turn the conversation to mistakes. Share a mistake you made recently (or one you made as a child) and ask each family member to share a mistake they made.
  6. View inspirational quotes about making mistakes at
  7. Say to your child, “I love you no matter what. No matter how many mistakes you make, I will always love you.”
  8. Practice the 3 R’s of Recovery after you make a mistake <— a Positive Discipline Parenting Tool
  9. Look through this list of 40 Things You Learn from Making Mistakes by Maria Hill.
  10. Check out this Pinterest Board called Maximize Your Mistakes from Create Your Results Coaching.
  11. Create Your Own PinteMistakesrest Board about a positive view of mistakes
  12. Snuggle in with your child and read the picture book, It’s Okay to Make Mistakes by Todd Parr (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2014.)
  13. Read Brene’ Brown’s article,  Imperfect Parenting Series – Making Mistakes
  14. After your child makes a mistake, say, “It’s okay. Everybody makes mistakes.”
  15. Watch Diana Laufenberg’s Ted Talk, How to Learn? From Mistakes.
  16. Discover how Lily makes up for her mistake in the picture book, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes (Greenvillow Books, 2006.)
  17. Write responses to these journaling prompts about making mistakes.
  18. Contemplate this article, Benefits of Failure: Why Making Mistakes in School is a Must by Cindy Donaldson
  19. Check out a mind map from IQMatrix about Learning from Your Mistakes.
  20. Tell your child about a mistake you made when you were a child.
  21. When you notice you are blaming or shaming yourself or your child for a mistakes, sing, “Let it go! Let it go!” a la the song from the movie, Frozen.

Learn more about the concept that “Mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn” in the book Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen. Enjoy!Kelly093 cropped

Kelly Pfeiffer

Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

Parent Coach


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