Positive Discipline Parent Interview – 10 Questions with Julie Byers

February 8, 2013

This is the first in a series of interviews with parents who practice Positive Discipline. Through this series, I hope to highlight the diversity of parents who choose to use Positive Discipline and the variety of ways Positive Discipline tools can be used to solve problems, connect parents and kids and teach life skills.

403624_10100685934728228_1329258759_nMeet the first Positive Discipline parent,

Julie Byers

1. Number of Children:

Two–Norah is 7 and Cedar is 3

2. How you first learned about Positive Discipline . . . .

Before I ever imagined becoming a parent, I taught parenting classes. Man, those parents must have laughed at my confident instructions on parenting. The organization I worked for didn’t use a positive discipline curriculum and I knew that I would parent differently than what I taught. It was, perhaps, the only “If I were a mom, I would…” statements that came true.

3. One food you’d never let your kids eat:

“Never” is word that invites me to eat it later. I can’t think of any “never” foods. We have green light foods that the kids have access to anytime they want (apples, nuts, veggies) and yellow light foods that I control (cheese sticks, peanut butter). The red light foods are limited.

4. Favorite Positive Discipline parenting tool:

Time-In’s. I think teaching kids to know when to step away and recharge is so important. We started with a comfort corner and took the kids there when they were misbehaving. We never spoke about the misbehavior in the comfort corner. The comfort corner was simply a safe place to regroup–a coffee break for kids. How many adults don’t know how to do this? Now, the kids ask for “alone time” or I’ll give them a nudge to take a break. Of course, I have to model it, too. I have benefited!

5. Favorite non-parenting book you’ve read lately:

I read The Poisonwood Bible for the first time. Yeah, I’m a bit behind on the bestsellers. It was so good. In many ways, though, it was a parenting book. Powerfully so.

6. A Positive Discipline parenting tool that surprised you (because it actually worked in your opinion) is ________:

The wheel of choice. When Norah was 5, we had loads of trouble with her anger. It was very public and very embarrassing to me. And, of course, whenever we’re embarrassed, we’re bound to react in a shameful way. So, I helped her make an Anger Wheel of Choice and we carried that sucker around everywhere. I was as surprised as Norah that it worked! You can see a picture of our Anger Wheel here: http://inexplicableways.com/2011/10/09/tools-for-the-angry-preschooler/

7. Name 3 hobbies, obsessions or interests of yours.

I love birth and early parenting so I spend much of my time working with expectant and new families. I also started a non-profit called Upstate BirthNetwork. I enjoy reading and scouring thrift stores for treasures.

8. Tell us two ways you work on self-care as a parent.

This area is a work in progress. I have reached the bottom of my reserves more times than I can count. Lately, I’ve made space for reading poetry. And I’ve said “no” to lots of projects and people. It is tough to scale back and simplify but I see my happiness increasing in direct proportion to things I let go of or let pass.

9. What is one parenting choice you’ve made because you have strong feelings or opinion about it?

I have strong feelings about blind obedience. I don’t want my girls obeying an adult just because he is an adult. That’s how kids get hurt and abducted. I don’t want my kids to do something only because “I said so.” Norah and I recently read the story Cassobianca, a young boy who died in 1798 in a fiery shipwreck. He died because refused to leave his post until his father said he could. But his fathered was already dead belowdeck. In the story, Cassobianca is honored for his obedience. Norah thought it was such a dumb story because he was dead. And I agreed. I know I’m in the minority here. The concept of “first time obedience” is important to many. I’m looking at the long term. And yes, it costs me time and sometimes I get frustrated. “Will you just do what I say?!” Still, my goal is a girl who is safe, smart, and willing to express her thoughts.

10. This month’s featured tool at Think It Through Parenting is routines. Name one way you’ve use this tool or one way you’d like to try this tool.

I’m a big fan of rituals and we use these in our home. Rituals come easily to me. I took many ideas from Becky Bailey’s book I Love You Rituals. Routine, on the other hand, is challenging. My work outside the home is unpredictable and we homeschool year-round so we can be flexible. In fact, one reason I homeschool is to avoid being tied to a place twice a day: the carpool line. That said, Norah loves routines and charts (GAG!). I blogged about one success we’ve had with this conflict here: http://inexplicableways.com/2012/09/20/can-i-get-a-gold-star/

Occupation: Mom, DChildbirth Educator, Doula
Website/Blog: www.inexplicableways.com

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Reduce Parent Child Power Struggles with Positive Discipline Routines

February 5, 2013

Routines with Words

Parents, what power struggle moments are you dreading tomorrow?

  • Making sure your child is out of bed?
  • Keeping your child on the move to get ready each morning?
  • Homework battles?
  • Dinnertime?
  • Getting your child to clean up a messy room?
  • Bedtime?

Which one of these is the worst for you? You know the feeling. You know you need to prompt your child to engage in one of the tasks above but you must stop, take a deep breath and remind yourself to stay calm before approaching your child.

Did you know that taking time to plan and establish a routine can help? Creating routines isn’t a quick fix – it requires stepping back and thinking about a new way of doing things, but odds are that after 30 days, you’ll be amazed at the changes in yourself and your child.

Step 1: Choose Your Power Struggle

Only work on creating one routine at a time. Once a new routine is going smoothly for a while, then it’s okay to work on a different one.

Step 2: Together Write the “Must Haves” in the Routine

Sit down with your child when both of you are in a good mood and write a list of all of the steps that must happen in the routine.  It’s really helpful to write each step on an individual sticky note or index card.

Step 3: Add 1 or 2 Elements of Fun or Connection to the Routine

Brainstorm a few ideas that will help break up the routine with something funny or enjoyable.  Examples:

  • Sing silly songs while getting dressed
  • Look up the joke of the day on the computer and tell your parent the joke of the day
  • Dance a funny dance to one song

Connection ideas might include:

  • Hug every family member
  • Eat breakfast with a parent
  • Brush your teeth with your parent

Step 4: Decide on the Order of the Routine

Move the sticky notes around to see what might work well for both child and parent.

Step 5: Add Photos for Preschoolers

Use clip art, pictures from magazines, stick figure drawings or actual photos of your child completing each step of the routine.  Again, use sticky notes, index cards, poster board, etc. to create your visual routine chart.

Using the Chart to Reduce Power Struggles

Instead of nagging your child to complete the routine, try one of the following Positive Discipline tools:

  1. Ask Curiosity Questions: “What’s next on  your routine chart?”; “What do you need to do next to get ready?” Read more about the Positive Discipline tool of curiosity questions on Jane Nelsen’s blog.
  2. Use Silent Signals: Without speaking, use agreed upon silent signals as reminders – a hand over your heart, the “I love you” hand signal, etc.
  3. Take Time for Training: Practice the routine or difficult parts of the routine when needed. Read examples of the Take Time for Training Tool on Jane Nelsen’s blog.

More Articles on Routines

Visit the Think It Though Parenting Tools Page for more articles on creating specific routines. (You may need to scroll down on this page to see the “routines” tool.)

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Do Parents Confuse Happy Kids with Kids Who are Never Disappointed?

January 28, 2013

704693_84001062I wonder how many Positive Discipline parents struggle when their kids whine, sulk or complain after parents set limits? I know I wrestled with this issue for a long time. At first I framed Positive Discipline parenting around a picture of smiling kids who would appreciate that I didn’t punish them or shame them. Somehow I expected them to know how hard I was working to give them more tools than I had as a child.

I finally realized that my kids couldn’t know the learning curve I was climbing – all the books I read, all the questions I asked – to at least be an educated parent. So my next tactic was to explain to my kids how lucky they were. I causally mentioned details about my childhood – similar to “I walked to school in the snow uphill both ways,” but more realistic, of course. “I was grounded for a week for not coming home when my parents called.” Guess what? I didn’t notice any difference in my kids’ level of appreciation when I used the Positive Discipline tool of setting limits with kindness and firmness at the same time.

Why weren’t my kids overjoyed that I was pushing them gently to learn life skills? Why couldn’t they see the benefits of me saying “no” without yelling or putting them down?

Thanks Go Out to My Favorite Parenting Author

I remember it was Jane Nelsen’s voice that helped me see things in a new way. I don’t remember if I was listening to an audio recording of her or if I was actually in the same room with her, but her words spoke volumes to me. Jane suggested that parents say to kids, “My answer is no and it’s okay to be disappointed.” A different time I heard Jane’s voice speak, “It’s okay to cry.” Soon, my mind had turned 360 degrees.

I had never heard the message that it was okay to be disappointed. Now to defend my wonderful family, I am positive that my entire extended family thinks it’s okay to feel disappointed. But no one had ever stated it aloud and I grew up in a family that genuinely blossoms with an attitude of gratitude. The upside is that I generally have a positive attitude towards all in life. The downside is I didn’t learn healthy skills to deal with disappointment during my childhood.

Parenting Skills to Teach Kids about Handling Disappointment

One of the reasons I love the Positive Discipline curriculum is because it includes the teaching of social and emotional skills to children. I haven’t found another parenting curriculum that does as good a job. And acquiring more social-emotional skills translates to having more self-discipline.

Why does our culture think that kids shouldn’t cry or be disappointed? Was this value ingrained in your family? Did you hear, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!”? Many parents today are struggling with the issue of teaching social and emotional skills alongside virtues of gratitude and fortitude. How do parents give permission for kids to have feelings without turning their kids into big babies? How do parents let kids cry and then not feel manipulated by the crying?

Here are a few ideas for giving children permission to have their feelings while still setting limits:

  • Acknowledge Feelings: “You feel _________ because __________.” You feel frustrated that you can’t play with your friends until after you’ve cleaned up your room.
  • Share a Similar Experience from Your Childhood: “I remember getting so upset because my friends were ready to play and I didn’t know where to start to clean up my room.”
  • Model Handling Disappointment: When you experience disappointment yourself, voice it to your children. “Wow! I’m so disappointed that it’s raining today. I really wanted to have a picnic.” Statements like this heard again and again create patterns for kids, phrases that they will begin to use themselves. Ask for a hug when you feel disappointed. Again you’ll be modeling what you’d like for your kids to do
  • High and Low Rituals: In the 1999 movie, The Story of Us, the family members have a ritual that involves each person sharing his or her “high” for the day and “low” for the day. Creating a similar ritual sends the message to kids that ups and downs are a part of everyday life and both are acceptable to talk about.

I’ve named a few. I’d love for you to share other Positive Discipline tools that can be added to this list. Do you struggle with the questions in this article?


Kelly Pfeiffer

Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

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Celebrate National Compliment Day

Thanks Compliment DayJanuary 24 is National Compliment Day. Parents, may this list of ideas inspire you to offer compliments to those you care about.

  • Dinner Table Compliments: At dinner, allow each family member a turn to give a compliment to another family member. Be sure and teach and model compliments to kids. Help kids understand that meaningful compliments are about the actions of others (rather than about a person’s appearance.)
  • Compliment Another Parent: Parents work hard and deserve plenty of compliments. I’m sure you know a parent who could use an encouraging compliment about their parenting.
  • Compliment Yourself: Acknowledge yourself for accomplishments you’ve made or for a great parenting moment you’ve had lately. Learning to encourage ourselves is sometimes the only encouragement we may find some days. When I’m feeling down, I ask myself, “What would I say to my best friend if she were going through this?” Then I say those same words to myself.
  • Compliment Your Child: Our kids hear many comments about the things you’d like them to do differently. Communicate to your child that you appreciate their help, understanding or hard work.
  • Compliment Those Who Support Your Parenting: Hopefully you have at least one other person who supports your parenting and who helps you be a better parent. Let this person know how important their help is to you.
  • Start a New Compliment Ritual-1 Compliment Per Child Per Day: Start a new habit that will improve your relationship with your child. It’s simple and when you make it a habit of it, you’ll notice how it changes your attitude about your child as well as changes your child’s attitude towards you.

Compliment with Encouragement Instead of Praise

If you’re a fan of the Think It Through Parenting facebook page, then you saw the posts on Monday about our words and how they affect children. If you’re not, here’s a great video and an article to help you understand the difference between Praise and Encouragement. Another way to look at this is to praise effort instead of natural ability. You’ll see what I mean in these two great resources.

An Article by Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott

You can print out this article which includes a chart for parents to learn about the difference between praise and encouragement, a Positive Discipline parenting tool—>Encouragement Versus Praise

I’d like to compliment you parents for working so hard everyday. It takes a lot of work to be a good parent.

Kelly           Kelly014

Positive Discipline Lead Trainer




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Routines Decrease Power Struggles, Nagging and More

January 8, 2013

Kelly093 croppedRoutines are one of my Top 5 Positive Discipline Parenting Tools You Need in 2013. If you’d like to

  • decrease the intensity of power struggles
  • stop nagging your kids so much
  • feel like everyone at least “knows” the plan

then creating and implementing a routine would greatly improve your parenting life.

Planning Your Routine

What part of your day would like to start with?

Once you’re decided on the exact routine, get input from your family. Consider holding a family meeting that starts with compliments and then brainstorm ideas about the routine.

Make it Visual for All to See

bedtime routine chart  000023102 000111693  000024436

Use clip art, stick figure drawing, magazine pictures and actual photos of your family to create visuals that help everyone stay on track. These visuals can be on a large poster in your kitchen or hand-held versions for each person.

Alternatives to Nagging

Instead of telling kids to follow the routines, ask questions that start with the words “what” and “how.”

  • “What’s next on the routine chart?”
  • “What have you picked out to wear today?”
  • “How would you like to get your clothes on?”
  • “What do you need to do before you eat breakfast?”

Parenting Tips for Using Routine Charts

I’ve written some web articles over the years that offer helpful hints for creating and using routine charts with kids using Positive Discipline principles. Just click on the link and you’ll arrive at Suite101.com, where many of my parenting articles are posted.


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Blog Posts before 2013 from Think It Through Parenting

January 6, 2013

If you’re looking for a blog post before December of 2012, click HERE to visit the old blog address.

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Caring for Your Super Mom Cape – 10 Rules for Parents

©designed by Kelly PfeifferSupermom capes are the latest fashion. Entering the social scene in the 1980’s, these all purpose garments complement any parent outfit – dressy, sporty or pajama-wear. These trendy accessories continue to be donned by parents while completing homework projects, making trips to school with forgotten lunch in hand and waiting in line at midnight for the latest release of video games.

The Future of Supermom Capes

Just how long will supermom capes continue to be en vogue? Parenting fashion experts predict a gradual shedding of this multi-use clothing look in favor of up and coming substitutes such as the

  • Natural Consequences Toga – a back to basics approach of allowing children to experience the effects of gravity, weather and forgotten homework
  • R’s of Recovery Wrap – a nurturing tool that teaches skills while letting kids take responsibility and actions for mistakes
  • Non-pampering Mittens – worn on the hands, these accessories prevent parents from doing too much for their children and instead allow children to discover how capable they are.

Caring for Your Supermom Cape – 10 Rules

Because supermoms capes will be popular for at least five more fashion seasons, I offer these care instructions for your consideration, no matter the current condition of your personal supermom cape.

  1. Recommended for use only for life-threatening situations.
  2. Store under lock and key plus password protection. Password should contain letters in the following sequence, “Teach children the R’s of Recovery from Mistakes.”
  3. Wear sparingly. Prolonged use may cause damage to your child’s sense of confidence, problem solving and capability.
  4. Do not exceed use of this garment for more than three days or smothering of children may occur.
  5. WARNING: May cause loss of oxygen to wearer if tied around the neck for long periods of time.
  6. Examine closely for wear and tear snags to determine cause. Do not mend. This garment is expected to last for only 30 uses over a period of 20 years.
  7. Treat all stains with a solution of two parts self-care and one part self-empowerment.
  8. Overuse of this garment may cause hallucinations of whiny, demanding children.
  9. Do not combine use of this cape with operation of rescue vehicles such as a helicopter to a child’s school to deliver forgotten homework.
  10. CAUTION: May induce episodes of chronic emergencies for all bodies standing within 20 feet of cape or voice activated through a wireless device such as a cell phone.

Supermom Cape Damage?

If you or your child have been injured by a superparent cape, I’d love to hear your story.

Kelly014Kelly Pfeiffer

Parent Educator

Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

Think It Through Parenting

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How Spending Quality Time with Kids Improves Behavior

quality time project quality time project with frame and wordsAre you and your child in a constant power struggle? Do you spend more time arguing with your child than not? When you try to change your child’s behavior, do you get lots of backtalk and resistance? These may be symptoms that the relationship between you and  your child is super strained and not growing. Yes, it could also be a phase that your child (or you) is going through, but either way spending regular quality time together can improve the situation. In this post, I’ll explain how the Positive Discipline tool of “special time” makes the top of my list for parenting tools that affect child behavior.

In my recent article, Top 5 Positive Discipline Parenting Tools You Need in 2013, I listed my favorite parenting tools and promised that I’d write a more in-depth article on each one of the tools. Here’s the first article.

Common Parenting Problem – Discipline Without Relationship

Think about a past teacher, boss, mentor that you admire – a person whom you respect and someone from whom you learned a lot. Odds are that this person was good at building a relationship with you. There are exceptions to every principle, but when it comes to teaching people anything, relationship is the superglue that bonds our life altering experiences – our growth.

For some parents, it’s hard to understand how relationship and discipline fit together. You may not have experienced or witnessed many examples of this in your life. Some of us were taught to believe that including the relationship in discipline is counterproductive because it’s “soft” and takes away from the firmness required in discipline. But the truth is that we learn best from those we trust.

Think about your adult relationships. If you called your spouse, adult friend, significant other to ask them to stop by the store and pick up some tomatoes on the way home, what would they say? If your relationship is going well, they’d most likely say, “Sure, how many? What kind?” If however the two of you have been arguing for the past three days, you might get a different response, “You called to ask me a favor? After all the things you’ve said to me lately?” It’s the same with kids and with all of your relationships.

Keeping the Relationship Glued Together

An ounce of superglue bonding is worth a pound of improved behavior. The secret is to apply an ounce regularly. Strong relationships are formed over time though repeated positive interactions. That’s why the tool of special time recommends scheduling one-on-one time between parent and child at least once a week for children ages 6 and up. This is like a weekly date of 45 minutes to an hour in which parent and child spend quality time together. For children younger than age 6, it’s recommended that parent and child spend 10-15 minutes a day in one-on-one time.

Making It Happen – Special Time with Children

Three simple tips will help you implement one-on-one time regularly with your child.

  1. Schedule It: Put your special time on the calendar. If you can find a time that is the same each week, it really helps.
  2. Try Different Things: You’ll get to know your child better if you see him or her in different situations. Play a board game at home one week, go to a park and swing another week, ride bikes around the neighborhood another time. Maybe take turns choosing the activity.
  3. No Lectures or Life Lessons Allowed: Special time is a time to simply enjoy your child and get to know your child.  Special time isn’t an opportunity to discuss grades, messy rooms or sibling arguments. Do more listening than talking and it’s okay if no one’s talking too.

“We do Panera Bread a lot, just sitting and talking. I think that because I sit and I just listen, then she shares more.  It’s opened up that communication. I also show interest in her interests. I sit with her sometimes when she watches videos. She loves to draw and I ask questions about her drawings.”

– Kim Phillips, mother of a 10 year old daughter

Examples and Ideas for Special Time

mom daughter tea partyYour imagination is the only limit for what you’ll do during special time. I’ve been having special time with my kids since they were preschoolers.  They are now ages 19 and 16. I’ll list some of my favorite ideas and then I’ll provide links to some web articles I’ve written about special time. I hope you’ll try this tool and then reflect back after six weeks of spending one-on-one time with you child. I think you’ll notice a difference.

  • Pack a picnic and take a bike ride together
  • Take a board game to a restaurant and play while you sip fun drinks (I’ve play chess at an indoor restaurant with my son and Sorry at an outdoor drive in type restaurant with my daughter.)
  • Take a blanket, snack and deck of cards and sit by a lake

Kelly014Kelly Pfeiffer

Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

Think It Through Parenting

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One Simple Self-Care Resolution for Stressed Parents

December 28, 2012

Calendar with words

You’re on-edge more often than you’re willing to admit to anyone. At times throughout the year, you’ve tried to label your feelings and decide that resentment is probably the best fit. On the outside you’re a great mom (or dad), but on the inside you feel a little lonely and angry at times. You’re doing your best to give your kids the parent they deserve but you wonder why that doesn’t make you completely happy. You’d like next year to be different – to enjoy parenting more, lose your cool less often and feel more satisfaction in your life.

The Two Main Causes of Parenting Blues

First, I want you to know that your experience isn’t unique to you. Those other parents have similar thoughts, but like you, they don’t feel comfortable speaking about it. It isn’t socially acceptable to say you don’t love every aspect of being a parent. Besides you know someone who would love to have kids and can’t. You need to appreciate the kids you have, you tell yourself.

I want you to know that your thoughts and feelings are common among parents and normal. Here are the main reasons why.

  1. Parenting is the Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love: Not to take away any respect for the military branch that coined this phrase, but truly parenting is not for the weary. It requires lots of endless dedication and hard work. No wonder you feel drained!
  2. Parents Don’t Take Time to Recharge: Do you go and go and push yourself like the Energizer Bunny, putting everyone’s needs ahead of your own? Do you put yourself last on your list of things to do, but make sure that your kids have everything they need?

Why Parents Treat Kids Than Themselves

You’re trying to be the best parent you can be. And for some parents, they associated the label of “best parent” with self-sacrifice. I won’t deny that parenting is full of sacrifices, but when parenting beliefs are taking to the point of putting the child first at the expense of the parent, the result is a huge imbalance problem.  The parent feels constantly worn out and the child often interprets that a relationship is what others do for you.

With all of the social pressure put on parents these days, moms and dads may make the mistake of thinking they need to do more for their kids when a more balanced approach would be to do less for children.

Are your beliefs preventing you from taking time for yourself. Do you believe the myth that good parents are completely selfless and always giving? If you struggle with taking time away from giving to your kids to recharge, consider this question – What are your children learning about limits in relationships, limits in life, the need for others to refuel, and the wonders of entertaining themselves at times?

A New Year’s Resolution that is Simple

Before I tell you about this simple New Year’s solution, I must give the disclaimer that this resolution is simple to plan, but may be challenging to execute IF you struggle with some of the beliefs mentioned above. But if you can implement this easy concept New Year’s Resolution, you’ll be taking a solid step towards balancing out who gets “care” in your family.

So here it is. You’ll need your 2013 calendar – paper or electronic. Look through the entire year and make a date with yourself once each month. Set aside a morning, an evening an afternoon or even an entire day and put it on the calendar – for every month of 2013.  However you can squeeze the time in for you, schedule it NOW on your calendar.

Following Through with Your New Year’s Resolution

You may wonder how you’re going to get someone to watch the kids, how you’ll feel about leaving them, exactly what you’ll do with your time. You can ponder this after the dates are set. Go ahead! Put yourself on your to-do list for every month of the coming year. After you set these goals, you can work out the details, but the fact that you’ve put these dates on the calendar creates an event. I want you to RSVP “yes” to this event for yourself and makes plans for it to happen.

-Kelly Pfeiffer

Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

Think It Through Parenting

P.S. If you’d like some ideas of what to do with your time or maybe more permission to take time for

©2012 Kelly Pfeiffer

©2012 Kelly Pfeiffer

yourself, download my “Self-Care Starter Kit for Parents Who Do Too Much,” an e-workbook I’m offering at no cost when you sign up for my Think It Through Parenting mailing list. (Excuse my new website construction.)


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Top 5 Positive Discipline Parenting Tools You Need in 2013

If you WANT things to be diff - polaroid styleWant to be a calmer parent? Or perhaps a firmer parent? Maybe you’d like to be more organized in the mornings? It’s hard to know where to start when you have big goals for yourself. No matter your wishes, I’m guessing that one of my five favorite Positive Discipline parenting tools can help. One way to change the dynamics in your home is to choose a specific tool or two and then apply the tool over time. After practicing different ways to use the tool, you’ll start noticing results and witness that you’re getting better at using the tool.

Take the New Parenting Tool Challenge

My doable challenge for you is to choose one (yes only one!) of the tools on my list of “Top 5 Positive Discipline Parenting Tools You Need in 2013.  These are my personal favorite parenting tools and all of them are tools that have been essential to me for parenting in a way that I feel good about – parenting that teaches life and relationship skills to my kids.

As you read over the list, you may think that they all look good, but again I encourage you to pick just one tool. Learn about that tool and practice different ways of implementing the tool until you feel you’ve mastered the tool and can use it well and often. To help you start learning your chosen tool, I’ll dedicate a blog post about each of the tools in January. So here’s the list, followed by some more information about each tool.

My Top 5 Positive Discipline Parenting Tools You Need in 2013

  1. Special Time
  2. Routines
  3. Positive Time Out
  4. Make Sure the Message of Love Get Through
  5. Help Your Children Discover How Capable They Are

Tool #1 – Special Time

This is my all time favorite parenting tool and this surprises a lot of parents. This one tool has been the glue that has held together my relationship with my children, even when one of us was going through a tough time or seemed to be caught in a series of power struggles.

Special time, often referred to as quality time is one-on-one time spent between a parent and a child without the distractions of others, homework, and power struggle topics. It’s time to get to know your child without asking him or her to do anything (such as clean a room) and simply enjoy being with your child. Ideally, special time happens at least once a week for an hour for ages 6 and up. For preschoolers, special time works well as 10 minutes of focused time on a daily basis.

By implementing the tool of special time, you’ll be surprised at how much you personally learn about your child plus you’ll add that sticky glue to the relationship so that when it’s time to set limits, you’ll have laid a foundation of trust and true interest in your child as a person.

Tool #2 – Routines

Would you love to stop nagging and reminding your kids about what to do next, or to remember to do their homework? Maybe it would make you jump up and down if you taught your child concrete steps to cleaning his room — a checklist of all of the tasks that need to be done to call a room “clean.”

What times are the super chaotic ones in your home? Okay, I’ll reword that. What times are the MOST  chaotic in your home and for your family? What times need some structure? Routines can be a big help so that everyone knows what happens first, second, third, etc.

When I introduce the concept of routines in my live workshops, parents often get this idea of routines confused with reward charts. To be clear, I don’t recommend using rewards or reward charts so my suggestion of creating routines isn’t about you being the monitor to doll out starts and check marks for a job well done. Using routines as a Positive Discipline parenting tool is different. I’ll post more in the next few weeks about this awesome tool that helps families in so many ways.

Tool #3 – Positive Time Out

Wow, this tool has saved my sanity. Positive time out can be used by all family members, but in this “choose your tool for 2013” context, I mean for you the parent to learn to take a positive time out. I know you feel your stress thermometer rise inside of your body when you’re parenting through a stressful moment. The pressure increases and before you know it, you’re yelling and you feel like your head might explode.

It’s so hard to step away from a parenting moment when we feel stressed, but in the long run, I have found that this tool has taught me so many other skills too. I’ve learned ways to calm myself. Each time I use this tool, I continue to model for my kids how to step away from a situation when I’m too upset to think clearly.

After you start taking positive time outs before you flip your lid, you’ll see a huge difference in how you parent once you calm down and then approach the situation again in a calm state, with your thinking cap firmly on. I feel so much better about myself and my parenting when I take a break (a positive time out) and try again later when the tension has had time to diminish.

Tool #4 – Make Sure the Message of Love Gets Through

Delivering a limit with love is super challenging, but once you do it, you’ll be hooked. When we set limits with an angry voice, sarcasm or threats, we ramp UP the tension, inject fear into the situation and lack the expression of love. Many of us believe that to be firm means to exclude love.

Would you like to set limits, follow through and say “no” while expressing love at the same time? This tool is probably one of the more advanced tools. It requires that you’re okay with your child being unhappy or disappointed about your answer or limit. One of Jane Nelsen’s classic examples of a parent setting a limit is, “My answer is no and it’s okay to be disappointed” said in a calm and empathetic tone. There are many ways to make sure the message of love gets through. I’ll be writing about a few this month in a blog post I’ll dedicate to this tool.

Tool #5 – Help Your Children Discover How Capable They Are

This is the best parenting tool for supermoms and superdads. In our current culture, many parents do too much for their kids (in the name of love) and prevent children from learning important life skills. To hand over some responsibilities to kids can be scary or parents and requires a little “letting go.” The letting go happens after parents take time for training a child on how to properly feed the dog, empty wastebaskets, vacuum the carpet, etc. Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t ever supervise or check up on the progress, but it does mean that you don’t micro manage the task or expect that your child will be able to complete the job like you would. Letting go also means that you avoid pampering your child by doing things for him that he can do for himself (or herself.)

Feeling capable can actually decrease the need for misbehavior. When child feel significant to their families by contributing to household chores and personal responsibilities, they feel more needed and connecting to their families. Another way to let children discover how capable they are is to give kids opportunities to problem solve and make up for their mistakes after they’ve hurt others (with words or hands) or damaged property.

More Help is On the Way

So those are my five favorite Positive Discipline tools. Remember just choose one to focus on and work at it until you feel pretty skilled at it. This process may take three months or the entire year, but I’d like for you to stick with the tool until you can use the tool and feel natural doing it.

Look for a blog post this month about each of these five tools. I’ll also post links so you can read other blogs (such as Jane Nelsen’s) and watch videos to help you learn your new tool of choice. If it helps you find my blog updates, you can “like” my Think It Through Parenting facebook page or follow me on twitter to make sure you get the updates. Another way to get updates delivered to your e-mail box is to sign up for my Think it Through Parenting mailing list. You’ll receive a weekly update and an occasional e-mail about special events. Right now if you sign up for my mailing list, you’ll also receive a free copy of the “Self-Care Starter Kit for Parents Who Do Too Much,” another great way to improve your parenting this year – by taking better care of the caretaker!


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