• 15 Apr 2009 11:00 PM | PDA (Administrator)

    Method offers parents alternative ways to handle misbehavior

    You've had a long day. You get home from work and, as you're making dinner, you find your 3-year-old daughter has drawn all over the wall with crayons.

    Do you immediately raise your voice in anger, grab her by the wrist, smack her bottom and give her a time-out?

    If your answer is yes to all of the above, Sahara Pirie would ask: What is she learning from you?

    Pirie will teach a "Parenting with Positive Discipline" class this month about alternatives to traditional parenting techniques.

    "If you could get the same or better results without that violence, wouldn't you choose that?" Pirie said. "We often think of discipline as punishment. Discipline actually means to teach. You can bring some joy back to parenting."

    Parents using the Positive Discipline method, inspired by a series of books by licensed counselor Jane Nelsen, wouldn't let their anger escalate or immediately deliver punitive action in the crayon scenario.

    "When you're in a highly charged emotional state, how easy is it for you to reason? We have to re-gather before we can solve a problem," said Pirie, who adopted the Positive Discipline model when she was pregnant with her now-10-year-old daughter, Emma.

    Parents can take time to cool off by saying, "Let's deal with this when we're both feeling better."

    Later the parents and the child can discuss what went wrong and come up with a solution together. Such behavior can be a learning opportunity, Pirie said.

    "You say, 'You've damaged property in this house. How are we going to solve this problem? How are we going to fix this?'" Pirie said. "You have the child participate in cleaning that up. She's held accountable."

    Pirie admits the Positive Discipline approach may sound permissive to many parents.

    "Those people are always my best advocates by the end of the class. They're only saying what other people are thinking," Pirie said. "Parents come down on the authoritarian side because they don't know other tools."

    When parents come to Pirie's classes, they're dealing with all ages and behavior problems, including biting, whining and lying, and eating disorders, sexual activity and sneaking out at night among older kids.

    Positive Discipline is a democratic parenting model based on the psychology theories of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs.

    Under the model, parents are kind but firm and involve children when solving discipline problems.

    Such empowerment helps children and teens feel like they have active roles in their families, Pirie said. Parents, under the model, respect their children as equally important family members. But they don't lose respect for themselves or the greater good of the family.

    "When we talk about a democratic family, we don't mean that everyone has equal power," Pirie said. "Parents have to be the leaders. They guide the rest of the family."

    Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037,
  • 03 Feb 2009 7:46 PM | PDA (Administrator)
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