Kindness and Firmness at the Same Time – Positive Discipline Parenting

July 10, 2013

Kind and firmSome parents have the perspective that discipline needs to be only firm for children to get the message. Parents, if you look back on your childhood, you will probably remember plenty of examples in which adults were only firm when dealing with your misbehavior. But hopefully you remember one or two people who were able to stay calm and stay connected with you to convey love and trust while they helped you learn from your mistakes and focus on doing better for the future. This is the “kindness” part in discipline.

If you didn’t experience any kind and firm discipline from adults in your childhood, know that it’s a wonderful gift to give your child. It’s extremely powerful for children to feel the message of love come across while an adult is setting limits and problem solving about a child’s mistake or misbehavior.

How Being Kind and Firm Helps You and Your Child

When parents are only firm, without being kind (staying connected), children often respond with feeling resentment, rebellion, revenge or by retreating (withdrawing and not feeling confidence enough to take even positive risks in the future.) When parents are only firm, the message of love does not come through. By using kindness along with firmness, parents can convey love while setting limits and teaching new skills for the future.

When parents are only kind, they often aren’t setting limits for children and children often respond with feeling scared (because too much freedom is scary) or entitled that they should have everything they want. By being firm, parents can help children learn to accept limits and live within limits in life.

What Kindness is NOT

Using kindness does not mean that your child will always be happy or always like your decisions, but it does mean that you will treat your children with respect. Treating your child with respect shows that you value your child’s sense of self and value the relationship above your child’s current behavior. When parents solve issues using kindness and firmness, children learn how true respect “works” in any relationship. Your child may feel anger or disappointment. Your child might stomp off, whine or yell.

Using kindness does not mean that your child will immediately accept the limit you are giving. Even when I’ve been kind and respectful while setting some type of limit, there have been plenty of times that my child has attempted to push the limit. This is normal. Kids will test limits and it’s part of healthy development for them to do so.

At some point in my journey of learning Positive Discipline, I mistakenly thought my kids should appreciate that I was being kind at the same time I was being firm. Yeah, we parents just want to feel appreciated sometimes. Most kids (and adults for that matter) struggle with accepting the limits of life. It’s okay if your kids aren’t thanking you for using Positive Discipline tools. If your kids are always happy with your decisions as a parent, THEN get concerned.

All of the Positive Discipline tools use the concept of “kindness and firmness at the same time.” Sometimes you might have to take a parent time out before you can be kind and firm at the same time.  That’s okay too. Think of one way you’re been firm without being kind or kind without being firm. Now think of a new way you can address a child’s behavior with both kindness and firmness at the same time.

Kelly014Kelly Pfeiffer

Positive Discipline Lead Trainer


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How Setting Age Appropriate Expectations Helps You and Your Child

June 20, 2013


Image by Billy Alexander on StockXchange

Each week, I create a new parenting challenge for my parent audience – parents who are interested in learning about Positive Discipline parenting tools. This week’s parenting challenge was:



age appropriate




for your child


Do you know that
children go through
typical stages of development?

It’s help to learn about behaviors that are common for your child’s age group and are due to typical development.

Are you expecting too much too soon?

Learning about ages and stages

will help you create realistic expectations

for your child.

Although no two children are exactly alike,

children move through typical stages of development.

How Setting Age Appropriate Expectations Helps You and Your Child

Parenting can be super frustrating for both parent and child when parents don’t understand what’s age appropriate for children to do. For example, if parents expect toddlers to understand the meaning of the word, “no,” then when toddlers don’t “obey” (in the parent’s mind), parents usually perceive that the toddler is being defiant. Read What Does Your Child Under 3 Know About No, an excerpt from Positive Discipline The First Three Years [Three Rivers Press, 2007.]

Toddlers are still learning about language and how it works. “Don’t touch the glass” may well be interpreted as “touch the glass” by a toddler. (Do not touch is asking toddler to understand two verbs that contradict each other.) I’ve observed a parent saying, “Don’t touch the glass” and the toddler smiled and immediately touched the glass. Instead of saying, “Don’t touch the glass,” a parent might have more success with “Walk over here to me” or “Here, hold this ball.”

Parents often tell me stories of preschoolers getting into make up, art supplies, etc. and making huge messes. Parents of preschoolers can keep preschoolers busy with open ended activities such as building with blocks, water play, sandbox play and dress up. Preschoolers’ brains are wired to explore. Setting up activities helps provide them with lots of exploration time and then parents can be nearby to supervise and set boundaries about the exploration. Preschoolers still need tons of supervision. If you know how to set up the environment to stimulate a preschooler’s brain, typical preschoolers will sometimes stay busy in play for an entire hour while you get laundry done or rest nearby.

One of the best ways to prevent misbehavior is by understanding typical development and providing children with age appropriate activities to keep them engaged.

For each challenge, I also offer information to help you be successful in implementing the parenting challenge. If you’d like to receive the parenting challenge along with helpful information and links to articles in your e-mail inbox each Monday, simply join my mailing list.

Kelly014Kelly Pfeiffer

Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

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Parents, is anger “allowed” in your home?

June 14, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany parents are extremely uncomfortable when their children get angry.

If you’re one of those parents, there are several possibilities as to why.

  • Maybe you weren’t allowed to express your own anger as a child so you view any anger as something negative
  • Or it may be that you associate anger with selfishness or ungratefulness
  • You grew up with the believe that “good” kids are happy kids and therefore mad or sad kids are bad or not acceptable kids
  • You are uncomfortable with your own anger or disappointment and feel guilty or bad for feeling such emotions
  • You aren’t skilled at handling your own emotions of disappointment or anger

Whatever the reason, if you are the kind of parent who struggles each time your child exhibits strong emotions, then I’d like you to know that parenting is a wonderful opportunity to learn some new beliefs about anger and learn some new tools for yourself.

Look for on-line classes coming this fall (2013) to help you and your family learn skills that decrease family stress, deescalate conflicts and teach self-calming skills.

Kelly014Kelly Pfeiffer

Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

Think It Through Parenting

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How Embracing Mistakes Helps Parents & Kids Achieve Goals

May 30, 2013

Are you wondering how sharing your mistakes with your kids and allowing your kids to make mistakes will help your children reach the goals you have for them? Does it maybe feel like you’re lowering your standards by teaching kids that mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn?  After all, high achievers set high goals, right? I used to think that myself – that holding myself to the tallest of standards was the best way to succeed. When I did make a mistake, I’d feel ashamed and didn’t want anyone to find out about it. Many times, I didn’t even want to admit it to myself.

embrace imperfection art journal photo lomo

How Embracing Mistakes Has Improved My Life

That shame of making mistakes I felt – that was years ago and since then, I’ve learned that I accomplish so much more when I embrace mistakes as part of the process of achieving goals and learning life lessons. Also I see how my kids are more resilient because they’ve been encouraged to look at mistakes as part of life and as part of the learning process.

Viewing mistakes as opportunities to learn has been one of the hardest things for me to learn, but it is this view that has provided me with tons of motivation, grace, forgiveness, problem solving practice and as I mentioned earlier, the quality that sustains us – resilience. Also, I’ve learned that I don’t have to lower my standards in the long run. I still reach my goals, even the high achieving ones, but I enjoy the process of getting there way more than I did before. I allow for mistakes and actually try more new things, outside of my comfort zone – something that helps me achieve more success.

How Embracing Mistakes Improves My Parenting

Many parents wonder how “cutting kids slack” (allowing for mistakes) is an effective parenting strategy. Do you fear that if you don’t push your kids to get it right that they’ll settle for getting it wrong? If you feel this fear, you’re not alone. Many parents are afraid that telling kids” it’s okay to fail” will result in kids not trying as hard.  Many aspects of our culture teach this type of thinking.

So this is one of those flip around situations for my life. Embracing mistakes seemed counter-intuitive to productivity at first, but after trying it, I’ve discovered that I’m more productive and get more done now that I’ve embraced mistakes in my whole life – in my business, in my parenting and in my kids’ actions.

When I first learned about Positive Discipline, I knew I wanted to work hard and change some of my parenting habits and my mindset around parenting. But each time I made a mistake, such as yelling at my child, I’d feel super guilty. I would beat myself up with a vengeance. Then I read and re-read the Positive Discipline book, especially the part about mistakes being opportunities to learn. It took a long time for me to start embracing my parenting mistakes, but now I can say I’m much better at it. I wasn’t doing my kids any favors by staying angry at myself. So I started using the 3 R’s of Recovery to learn from my mistakes and make amends with my kids. It took lots of baby steps to let go of my mistakes and turn them into learning opportunities but I’m so glad I did.

Parents, I hope you’ll consider embracing mistakes as part of the learning process. I know this may not be an easy task for you. It may be counter-intuitive and and way out of your comfort zone. First, try a baby step. Try embracing small mistakes – things that in your mind don’t matter much in the long run. After you’re comfortable with small mistakes, work on viewing some medium sized mistakes as part of the learning process. Change happens in baby steps. What’s a small step you can make towards embracing mistakes?

Kelly014Kelly Pfeiffer

Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

Imperfect Parent, Wife, Friend and Teacher




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Nurturing Mom Matters Workshop: Steps to Become a More Peaceful Parent

May 4, 2013

Event Flier - Nurturing Mom Matters_D VersionAnnouncing a live workshop this summer in Mauldin, SC, just outside of Greenville, SC.

Nurturing Mom Matters

is a two and a half hour workshop just for moms!

9:00-11:30am, Saturday, June 15, 2013

Mauldin Cultural Center

101 East Butler Road

Mauldin, SC 29662

Tickets go on sale, Wednesday, May 8

Cost: $25.00


Special advance sale tickets, pricing and promotions for newsletter subscribers

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Earth Day 2013 – Nature Journaling with Kids

April 22, 2013

Because it’s Earth Day, I’m sharing one of my earthly hobbies – something that you can do alone or with your kids – nature journaling. It’s a simple task really, but sometimes it’s tough to get started because of how we judge ourselves on our artistic talents. Nature journaling isn’t about how the page looks in the end, although I certainly have enjoyed the end product of some of my journaling pages. Keeping a nature journal is more about the process of observing, documenting and being with and in nature.

I am not a professional artist and have never taken an art class. Anyone can start a nature journal and I think it’s a wonderful activity for kids. For a few weeks out of the year, I work as a writer artist in residence in public elementary schools and often I use nature journaling as part or all of the teaching unit.

To get started, you only need a blank piece of paper and writing or painting supplies. A single black pen or pencil is sufficient thought it’s also fun to add color and use watercolors or watercolor pencils.

Here are photos I’ve snapped to give you some ideas and to inspire you and your kids.

Nature Journaling Mom and Claire cropped

 These two pages were created on the same day. One is mine and the other is my daughter’s. We were sitting side by side viewing the same flower. We both had a set of inexpensive watercolors, brushes and a black pigma pen.


 These are shoe boxes covered in white paper. For this unit,  students looked for answers to the inquiry question, “What is Natural?” This was the second day of the unit. Each student choose a single leaf. I prompted the students to investigate the leaf using their senses, noticing what they saw, felt and smelled. Next students traced the outline of the leaf and filled in details using colored pencils. Students wrote sensory words around the leaf. We used the boxes to keep the nature journal supplies and nature items that the students found and brought in.

Nature Journaling second graders

 Here are four different journaling pages from second graders observing at the same time. There were lots of different sights to see!

Painting OUTDOORS like Monet 5

Fourth graders used frames to provide focus for painting outdoors like Monet did.

Mixed Media Nature Journaling

This is a mixed media page created by a high school student using watercolors, torn paper, a poem (we integrated some creative writing into this particular unit) and items found in nature.

Hope this inspires you to get outside with or without your kids and try some nature journaling. As you can see from the photos here, there are lots of different ways to observe and record nature. There are very few rules. Go for it!

Kelly014Kelly Pfeiffer

Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

Think It Through Parenting

Nature Journaling

Writer Artist in Residence




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10 Minute Mom Boosters to Energize Your Day – Quick Self-Care Ideas

April 18, 2013

Energy Boosters for MomsMoms, I know it’s tough to fit in time for yourself and practice self-care. That’s why I wanted to write this post for you. This may be one that you want to bookmark so that you can come back to it when you’re feeling stressed and you don’t think you have time to take care of yourself. Do you have ten minutes?

Here’s a  list of energy boosting ideas you can do in 10 minutes

1. Walk Outdoors for 10 Minutes

Even a 10 minute walk increases blood flow to your brain and your muscles! If you’re feeling lethargic, walking may not be what you want to do, but it a brisk walk can actually give you energy and leave you feeling less tired than before. Walking without headphones can help clear your mind. Walking with headphones can help change your attitude. Maybe you can make a music playlist for when you feel down or tired?

You may even want to add a 10 minute walk into your everyday routine. When do you need to feel energized? – after helping your child with homework? – just before cooking dinner? Try squeezing in a short walk into your everyday life to get a change of scenery, release stress and step away from the dirty dishes in your sink.

2. Write/Journal for 10 Minutes

Express yourself on paper to boost your inner energy level. If you’re feeling down, stressed or on-edge, take 10 minute to write about those feelings. A study published in the journal, Emotion, suggests that we need to let ourselves feel our current emotions to work through those emotions. Even if you think that you shouldn’t be feeling an emotion (like feeling resentful for all of the responsibilities you have as a parent <–totally normal by the way) try writing about it. You can always throw the paper away if you’d rather someone else not see it.

Another idea is to journal what you’re going to do differently in the future to prevent your anxious feelings. For example, you might write that next time you are asked to volunteer, you’ll say “no” so that you don’t add more stress to your life.

3. Find a Free Offer

You don’t always have to spend money to get something new. There are tons of free offers and free stuff to accept if we can find the right free offer – something we value. I noticed a free offer posted on facebook. I downloaded a paper that I filled out and took to a hardware store. In return I received a free quart of paint. So spend 10 minutes finding an offer that would give me a boost.

Coupon Mom online is one of the many websites to check. Coupon mom does the work for you. You can visit the site and look over the offers to see what you can get for free. Like me, other parenting experts are giving free offers and free downloads of great information.

Our brain loves it when we get something unexpected for free. You’ve felt it! Here are some ideas to get you thinking in this “free offer” realm out there:

  • the free pair of panties offered by some lingerie stores
  • one of those coupons you get in the mail for a free mini-cupcake at a local bakery or other similar food item
  • free samples mailed out by websites

4. Yoga or Stretching Exercises

Even 10 minutes of gentle stretching can relieve stress and invigorate your body. If you practice yoga, choose a few light stretching activities that you’d usually do at the beginning of a yoga session.

If you don’t practice yoga, check out this short article from Ailieen that provides 10 easy stretches and photos to show you the poses.

5. Meditation Break

Even if you’ve never meditated before, it’s easy to get started and the more you practice meditation, the better you get at switching into a calm state.

You can find free guided meditations all over the internet. If you own headphones, you can plug in a listen to these through a smartphone or mp3 player. Here’s one I found for moms:

6. Arts or Crafts Burst of Energy

Spend 10 minutes doing something creative that you enjoy. This could be 10 minutes of knitting, sketching, nature journaling, creative writing, sewing, art journal work, scrapbooking or any creative activity you enjoy. I know it might be challenging to get “into”‘ the creative groove in ten minutes or possibly tough to walk away after ten minutes, but I’ll bet that a ten minute creativity break will give you an energy boost.

7. Self Affirmation Focus

Celebrating you and your unique gifts can lift you up and give you more energy. Take ten minutes to take your focus off of your children, your family and your responsibilities to them and direct your intention to yourself. Acknowledge your gifts by writing them down, speaking them aloud or singing about them (create a playlist of personal theme songs!) Remind yourself of the things you do well and the gifts you offer to the world.

8. Karaoke Break

Yeah, I really do this one! And you don’t have to have a karaoke machine to take this opportunity. If you’re in the car, just put on some favorite tunes and sing at the top of your lungs for ten minutes. I remember one day when my kids were preschoolers. I was home with them and thought I was going to lose my mind. I put them in the car and just drove for about 20 minutes with the music on and I sang and sang. If you do have a karaoke machine at home, that’s fun too and very stress relieving for me!

9. Comic Relief Video

There are tons of funny video clips on YouTube. You know which ones will get you belly laughing, something that releases healthy endorphins into your system. It could be America’s Funniest Videos or something on Comedy Central. One of my favorites  is a certain Saturday Night Live video by Justin Timberlake. It’s crude humor, but it gets me laughing hysterically!

10. Reading Fiction

Escape for a break by reading novels that take you into another world. The problem will most likely be that it’s hard to put down the book at the end of ten minutes. But even at ten minutes a day, you’ll eventually  get through the novel. Maybe you have time waiting in car line at your child’s school each day? Or maybe you can declare “reading time” for the family for ten minutes every day at the same time and you read your fiction, while your children read, listen to a book on tape or look at I Spy type books.

I hope you’ll find ways to sneak self-care into every day. You’re worth it and you’ll feel more energetic when you do! I’d love to hear what works for you. Post your results or your own ideas in the comment section below.

Kelly014Kelly Pfeiffer

Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

Think It Through Parenting


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Parent-Child Conflicts: Inevitable, Unavoidable and Opportunistic

April 2, 2013

Before you were a parent, did you dream of a household filled with laughter but not tantrums? Did you or do you believe that if you practice Positive Discipline, your kids will be forever happy (that you’re treating them with respectful) and thankful and be glad to do what you ask? Are you surprised at the number of conflicts you experience with your kids?

Conflict is Here to Stay and That’s GoodTeach Skills Conflict Resolution

Hey, you’re a pleasant person (most of the time) and you devote lots of time and energy to your kids? What’s all this conflict about? After all, your kids’ lives are pretty good. Why aren’t they happy? and appreciative? If these or similar thoughts are the ones running through your head, you’re definitely feeling frustrated.

The way we view conflict deeply influences how we handle conflict. Are you the kind of parent who hopes for a conflict free week with your kids or even a conflict free day? Yeah, I understand the dream. It feels nice when we have those easy free flowing days every three years or so, doesn’t it? But are you judging your days and your parenting and your kids by how many conflicts arise each day? Perhaps you’re thinking that if you’re parenting  the right way or a good way that you’re shouldn’t find yourself entrenched in reoccurring power struggles with your kids?

If you’re circling that belief system – that power struggles are bad, to be avoided and an indicator that you suck as a parent, I’d like to propose a radical idea to you.

Parent-Child Conflicts are Inevitable and Unavoidable

It’s okay that you and your child are having power struggles. It’s how you handle those conflicts that affects your future relationship with your child and your child’s ability to work through conflicts with others.

Power struggles are inevitable when we’re talking parent-child relationships. Our children are born totally dependent on us, but soon they learn to feed themselves, walk and communicate their needs. After the first year of life, children start the healthy long term task of becoming independent and breaking away from us. This is a perfect recipe for power struggles. We want to hold on to the control of our kid’s every move because we have tons more life experience than he or she does and we feel a positive parental need to protect our kids. Kids have a different view of the situation. A typical kid senses an innate drive to become independent, to explore the world, take healthy risks and learn lots of cool, fun things.

I’d actually be concerned if you told me that you and your child never have power struggles.

Parent-Child Conflicts are Opportunistic

I’m positive that you want your child to learn problem solving skills, cooperation skills and empathy. Power struggles offer opportunities for your child to learn all of these  – if we parents are open to that option. If you and your child never experienced power struggles, how would your child learn any of the skills I mentioned in the opening sentence of this paragraph. My guess is that conflicts with siblings and peers don’t offer as much of an opportunity for skill building as the ones kids have with you. Yes, solving conflicts with peers and siblings is important and definitely valuable, but you can give more, more, more because of your life experience.

This notion of viewing parent-child conflicts as teaching opportunities is another reason I don’t teach the tool of getting kids to obey their parents. Many of use were raised to be obedient, do what we were told and keep our mouths shut. If we were raised with this obedience model, we might also have grown up not knowing how to problem solve during a conflict or how to stand up for ourselves (meaning that “cooperation” meant that we always gave in to the other person’s wants.) If we weren’t given opportunities to problem solve, what did we learn about conflict resolution skills?

A power struggle is an opportunity to learn new skills, to learn about one another person’s point of view and to problem solve about solutions. Do you see the importance of conflict in raising capable kids? Can you view the situation as a teaching tool of life changing proportions?

Kelly Pfeiffer

Certified Positive Discipline Trainer

Think It Through Parenting

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Positive Discipline Parent Interview – 10 Questions with Karla Herrera

March 28, 2013

This is the second in a series of interviews with parents who practice Positive Discipline. The first interview with Julie Byers was one of my most popular posts. I hope my readers will enjoy this one just as much. I love hearing the stories parents tell about how their kids internalize Positive Discipline concepts and the idea of mutual respect.

This month’s interview is with

Karla Herrera

1.    Number of Children and ages of children
My daughter Camila is 5.5-years-old and my son Mateo is 4.5-years old. We are expecting our third child, a boy, at the end of May.

2.    How did you first learn about Positive Discipline?
I don’t remember exactly but we’ve been using it since my daughter was about 1-year-oFamily picture for blog Karla Harrerald.

3.    What was your biggest surprise about parenting in general?
My biggest surprise is how much I’ve learned from my children. They teach me how to forgive quickly and live in the moment. They don’t live in the past, they don’t hold grudges or think about yesterday and how I may have failed in some way as a mom. They live in the now and I think that’s why they are so happy.
They teach me to slow down and enjoy the small things, how to linger in a hug instead of letting go and moving on to do the laundry or the dishes.

And they teach me how to parent. The other day my daughter purposely dumped half a bottle of brand new shampoo. Organic, expensive shampoo. I raised my voice and scolded her. She looked down, feeling bad and said “Okay mommy. I won’t do it again… but you don’t have to talk to me in that tone.”
I responded “Yes, I do.”
“Why,” she asked.
“Because you purposely did something inappropriate.” But as that answer left my lips I knew the real reason I used an unpleasant tone with her was because that’s what my parents had done with me. And then she said, “Oh.”
It only took me a few seconds to realize she was graciously trying to teach me a lesson and I was about to lose the opportunity to learn it and to show her how powerful she is. So I said “You know what, you’re right.” She looked up at me surprised and a trembling smile flashed on her face. “Let’s do this over Camila.” So I walked out of the bathroom, walked back in and said “Camila, did you spill the shampoo on purpose?” My tone was serious but respectful. She looked confused but answered truthfully, “Yes.” I remained calm and said, “Love, the shampoo is for your hair and it costs a lot of money. It’s important that it doesn’t get wasted. Okay?” She stared at me and said “Okay mommy.” And we moved on with her shower, without losing respect or love or peace.

4.    Favorite Positive Discipline parenting tool
In the seven-week course I took we did an exercise in which I volunteered.  I was the child and there were five “adults” standing on chairs saying mean things to me as I moved around them saying “I am a child and I just want to belong.” I love this tool because I can remember this truth every time my children are misbehaving or acting in a way that bothers me. This tool leads me to take a deep breath, to be kinder, gentler, to see my children as children and to remember that they are gifts and blessings.

5.    Favorite non-parenting book you’ve read lately . . .
I read Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other  Concerns)
I loved it because it made me laugh out loud and laughing is always good for the soul.

6.    A Positive Discipline parenting tool that surprised you (because it actually worked in your opinion) is ________.
I love our family meetings! I am amazed every time one of our children writes an item on the agenda so we can talk about it at our weekly meeting. And I really enjoy listening to Camila and Mateo come up with solutions for problems we have going on.

7.    Name 3 hobbies, obsessions or interests of yours.
Positive discipline. I will complete my certification in May and will become a positive discipline parent educator at my daughter’s  school next year. I’m passionate about this and I work hard to learn  it and get it right!
Reading. I love reading books, magazines, and articles about nutrition, health, science, parenting, and anything else that catches my eye.

8.    Tell us two ways you work on self-care as a parent.
I am blessed with an amazingly supportive husband who is always willing to watch the kids so I can go get a massage, a facial, a pedicure. He always supports me when I want to go out to dinner, a movie, or karaoke with my friends. There is nothing better than hanging out with my friends to relax, laugh and get a new perspective on life. I also enjoy taking classes and attending seminars.

9.    What is one parenting choice you’ve made because you have strong feelings or opinions about it?
My husband and I are from Central and South America. My husband came to the U.S. when he was two-years-old and I came here when I was eight-years-old. We know the best way to stay connected to our culture is through our language, Spanish, and that is why we speak to our children exclusively in Spanish. Our kids’ movies and books are in Spanish and we listen to a lot of music in Spanish as well. It’s not always easy and English is actually the language Carlos (my husband) and I met in and feel more comfortable in, but we’ve made a commitment to give our children an amazing gift — true bilingualism.

10.    This month’s focus for Think It Through Parenting is mornings. What is one way you prevent morning madness for your family?
Camila and Mateo set out their clothes each night so there is no choosing or changing their minds about outfits in the morning. I make their lunch the night before and leave everything we’ll need for breakfast out and ready to go.

Thanks go out to Karla for sharing her answers with us.

If you’re a parent who practices Positive Discipline a la Jane Nelsen style and are willing to be interviewed for an upcoming article, e-mail me at

Kelly014Kelly Pfeiffer

Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

Think It Through Parenting

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Review of Positive Discipline A-Z Book

March 27, 2013

Positive Discipline A-Z book by Nelsen, Lott & GlennPositive Discipline A-Z, 1001 Solutions to Everyday Parenting Problems is a dictionary style book in which parents can look up child behaviors and find a variety of suggestions to try. Three authors came together to pack a lot of parenting advice into 316 pages: Jane Nelsen, Lynn Lott and Stephen Glenn. Read on to find out why this book is often touted as the favorite of all the Positive Discipline books.

An Easy to Use, Quick Reference

Parents love this book for its format. Most likely, no one has read Positive Discipline A-Z from beginning to end. In the first thirty pages, part one offers an overview of the positive discipline approach. This section includes twenty-seven tools that you’ll be able to apply to many different situations.

Reading the first part is necessary if you’re new to positive discipline, but those who have read other positive discipline book will be fairly familiar with most of the tools. The remainder of the book lists behaviors, in alphabetical order and for each, the authors offer ideas that parents can use right away.

All answers use positive discipline tools, but the authors make sure to list various options so parents can choose one that works best for them or use the suggestions as a starting point. One of my favorite things of positive discipline is that there’s never one way to solve a problem and this book clearly illustrates this point.

Examples of Positive Discipline Tools

As I mentioned above, part one lists and explains popular positive discipline tools. I’d like to include examples of a few of my favorite ones from the book here.

  • Act, Don’t Talk: Parents even ask themselves, “Why do I keep saying the same thing?” The “Act, Don’t Talk” tool can take many forms and you’ll get several ideas on how to stop talking and act, which sends a stronger message to children. Think about that old adage that “actions speak louder than words”.
  • Say No: If you’re trying to be a positive parent, you may get the idea that you aren’t supposed to say “no” or it needs to be sugar coated. “It’s okay to say no” write the authors and they illustrate how delivering a “no” with respect is a simple and effective parenting tool.
  • Take Small Steps: Change happens in baby steps and that counts for both parents and children. Create expectations that are doable for the whole family. Focus on improvement instead of perfection.

Looking up Behaviors

It’s easy to flip through the alphabetical pages to find a behavior or parents can look up behaviors in the table of contents section in the front or in the index section in the back of the book.

For each behavior, parents will see the following sections:

  • Understanding Your Child, Yourself and the Situation
  • Suggestions
  • Planning Ahead to Prevent Future Problems
  • Life Skills Children Can Learn
  • Parenting Pointers
  • Booster Thoughts

The part on “Understanding Your Child, Yourself and the Situation” written for each behavior is my personal favorite. In teaching parents about discipline, my hope is that parents will step back and look at the behavior from the child’s point of view before taking any action. Many parenting methods aim to only stop the behavior, but Positive Discipline asks parents to consider a child’s developmental stage, the child’s relationship with others as well as the child’s sense of feeling confident and capable.

Discipline Suggestions for All Ages of Children

Positive Discipline A-Z is a book that will be taken off the shelf from the time your child is a toddler until they move out of the house. You’ll find sections on crying, weaning, and terrible twos as well as cell phones, zits, suicide and cutting. For this wealth of information, the book is well worth the print price of $16.95. The authors have included sections on up to date issues such as stepfamilies, bullying and obesity prevention.

Kelly014Kelly Pfeiffer

Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

Think It Through Parenting



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