One of my favorite things about parenting with Positive Discipline is that the tools allow me and my kids to make mistakes and still learn valuable life skills. I used to think I had to focus on doing everything the right way, the best way to be an effective parent and have good kids. But since I’ve been using Positive Discipline eighteen years ago (Thank you Ann Pfeiffer!) I’ve learned that mistakes are wonderful teaching tools too.
Positive Discipline has plenty of great tools to use even when we parents haven’t made mistakes, but my favorite tools are the ones that allow me to be imperfect, because these tools teach me to stretch in my human journey. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I’ll clear it up with a list of tools and some examples here.
Positive Discipline Tools for When I’ve Made a Mistake
- The Three R’s of Recovery: This tool is a wondrous tool for any relationship – marriages, co-workers, friendships, but I seem to use it most often in my relationship with my children. 1) Recognize the mistake with a feeling of responsibility instead of blame. 2) Reconcile by apologizing. Children are so forgiving. 3) Resolve the problem by working together on a respectful solution. See the Positive Discipline Tool Card about the 3 R’s of Recovery and read more about this tool on Single Dad Brad’s blog post.
- Positive Time Out: Positive Discipline doesn’t use time out in the traditional way. A Positive Discipline time out is a cool off time and can be used by both parents and children. During a Positive Discipline time out, I can simply take steps to calm myself and put my brain back into a state of rational thinking. (When we flip our lids under stress, our brains downshift into flight or flight mode.) Positive Discipline time out allows children and parents to practice and develop self-calming skills. Once everyone is calm, THEN parent and child can come back together to work on a solution to the problem. Perhaps parent and child may even need to use three tools together: 1)Positive Time Out 2)3 R’s of Recovery (if mistakes were made) and then the next tool I’ll list, 3)Focusing on Solutions
- Focus on Solutions: After I’ve calmed down, I can get back together with my child and focus on solutions to the problem. When I’m upset and my brain has downshifted to flight or flight mode, I focus on blame. So it is necessary that as parents, we use self calming skills to calm ourselves and encourage our children to do the same so that we can reset out brains back to safe mode. When we are calm, it is because we feel safe, instead of threatened. Visit Single Dad Brad’s blogto learn about the three step process to focus on solutions.
- See Mistakes as Opportunities to Learn: In order to practice the three skills above, I must approach my parenting with the attitude tool that mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn. I didn’t always look at mistakes as learning opportunities. I was thirty years old when I read Jane Nelsen’s first book, Positive Discipline and was told that it was okay to make mistakes. I have worked on this attitude tools more than any other of the Positive Discipline tools because I had to make big changes in how I viewed myself.
How to Learn Amazing and Life Chancing Skills and Attitudes
You don’t have to work on changing your attitude first. What I found was that by using the tools, I gained skills and my successes shifted my attitude and outlook on parenting. Since first learning about Positive Discipline age 30, my views have changed a lot – about relationships, about how the brain learns and about how adults can empower kids. I’ve learned that I can be firm and connect with my child in the same moment. I’ve gained so many new parenting skills and relationship skills. I hope you’ll choose one tool above and start learning more about it and practicing it so you can feel more empowered as a parent, experience more control (over yourself and tough parenting situations) and learn to enjoy your relationships more than you ever dreamed.