Positive Discipline Parent Interview – 10 Questions with Julie Byers

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


  1. I love heaps of Positive Discipline tools and philosophies. I also wonder if it wouldn’t be better instead of calling something Mistaken Goals to call it ‘what’s their Intent?’ (which doesn’t have a negative connotation nor makes the child ‘wrong’ or ‘mistaken’) Pam

  2. Nice observation, Pam. Often in Positive Discipline we also say the “belief behind the behavior” when referring to mistaken goals. Another term used by Adlerians is “private logic.” My guess is that Adler (or was it Dreikurs?) used the term “mistaken goals” because the primary goal of all people is “belonging and significance” (according to Adler) and children mistakenly think that their goal is undue attention, misguided power, revenge or giving up and try to achieve these “mistaken goals” instead. I think your question/wondering is a great one and one that inspire some deep diving into great discussions.

  3. Children do not have a “mistaken goal” of undue attention (or any of the other mistaken goals). They have a mistaken belief (subconscious to them) about how to achieve their true goal of belonging. That is why Dreikurs called them “Mistaken Goals.” I suppose Dreikurs could have called thrm “mistaken beliefs” but that would have missed the very important Adlerian philosophy of behavior being purpose (goal) driven. This does not have a negative connotation or make the child ‘wrong’ or ‘mistaken.’ It helps us all understand the discouragement of the mistaken goal (based on a mistaken belief) so we can use encouragement help children attain their basic human goal of belonging in a way that is encouraging to them and to others. If we called it a “Mistaken Belief Chart” how would we about the “real” belief? It is so basic to Adlerian psychology to understand the primary goal of all human beings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *