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"Dr. Laura.....I probably say 'Good Job!" ten times a day....if praise isn't a good idea, what am I supposed to say to encourage good behavior?!" - Ariana

"What kids do need is unconditional support, love with no strings attached. That’s not just different from praise – it’s the opposite of praise. "Good job!" is conditional. It means we’re offering attention and acknowledgment and approval for jumping through our hoops, for doing things that please us." -- Alfie Kohn

In my last post, I wrote that praise as we usually give it isn't good for kids. So, like Ariana, you may be wondering how else you can give your child positive feedback.  After all, you've heard it takes at least 7 positive interactions for every negative interaction to maintain a good relationship. While hugs and smiles go a long way, you're in constant verbal interaction with your child, and your most common phrase may well be "Good job!"  Besides, there are things you'd like him to learn about how to be in the world. How else can you guide him?  READ POST

Friday, April 11, 2014 | Permalink

"An impressive body of scientific research has shown that the more we reward people for doing something, the more they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward. Now the point isn’t to draw, to read, to think, to create – the point is to get the goody, whether it’s an ice cream, a sticker, or a 'Good job!'"-- Alfie Kohn

If you think you should always praise your child, you may be surprised to hear that research shows that praise--at least as we usually give it to children in this culture-- often backfires. To be clear, I'm not saying to withhold your love, ever. I'm suggesting that we all become a bit more thoughtful about how we give children feedback. Here's why.  READ POST

Wednesday, April 09, 2014 | Permalink

"Isn't there a time and a place for a parent to just plain 'be in charge'?  So often, and especially now, with this new approach, she pretty much does whatever she wants...I don't want my child to be an uncontrollable brat." - Amber

Often, parents get confused about peaceful parenting. They think that if they stop punishing, their child will do whatever she wants. But that assumes there are only two choices -- being permissive or punitive. What about holding to your expectations while at the same time offering your child support and understanding?

Let's say you tell your child that it's time for bed, and she ignores you or says NO! What are your choices?  READ POST

Friday, April 04, 2014 | Permalink

"I'm a teacher of 4-5 year olds. I made the decision that I wouldn't do time-outs with kids anymore and now I'd never go back. I always knew the teacher sets the tone for the classroom, but the results of my no time-out experiment blew me away. I was more respectful with the kids and their needs as a classroom management tool and then as their needs were acknowledged, the kids became more respectful to each other. I was forced to address the real problems behind behaviors and kids started to try to solve problems themselves in real ways too, not just to get the result they wanted. Basically, I showed I cared more about them as people and they started to feel respected and were more respectful to each other. If I ever get the opportunity to do a PhD in education, it will be on this topic in some way. That's how amazing my results have been." - Erin

I'm often asked whether peaceful parenting ideas can work in a classroom. As Erin so eloquently testifies, the answer is YES!  Of course, it isn't easy. It takes regulating ourselves. It takes patience. Sometimes you really can't help a child with her emotions because you have 20 more who need you. And as every teacher knows, what happens at home will always affect the child's behavior at school. 

But all humans respond to respect. And even very young children love to contribute to the group and to find solutions to problems.

I've been told by teachers I respect that we can be guided by the same ideas that guide us in parenting peacefully. For instance, any classroom of children would benefit if we, the adults in the room, could remember that:  READ POST

Wednesday, April 02, 2014 | Permalink

"I can hear those readers unfamiliar with positive discipline saying: “How can you reward bad behavior? You’ve got to be kidding!” I understand your reaction because I had the same one. I changed my mind when I tried it and saw that it consistently decreases unacceptable behavior and helps prevent the child from repeating the same problems. My experience is that kids learn more about self-control using the Comfort Corner than they would after 100 Time Outs." - Peter Haiman, Ph.D.

Do you use Time-Outs? They’re certainly better than spanking to show your child you’re serious about whatever limit you’re setting. But time-outs aren’t the best way to help kids want to cooperate, or even to help them calm down. Why?  READ POST

Friday, March 28, 2014 | Permalink

"I recently discovered Aha! Parenting and am trying hard to change things at our house, but my kids seem to be acting out more.  So I still lose it. And I feel so guilty about the past. What am I doing wrong?" - Kate

"For me, this type of parenting is a daily choice. Every morning I have to make the commitment not to yell, to stay calm, to chose love. And there is something very empowering about that.  I apologize to my kids when I make mistakes and slip - I see that when they accept my apology, they feel empowerment and generosity of spirit. This influences their behavior with each other - there are more kind words and gestures, more "I'm sorry" and more "Don't worry, I know it wasn't your fault" that they extend to each other, than before. There are days when things are a big struggle, but I really feel that something is changing deep within our hearts AND I feel us grow closer together when we chose love, and when in the middle of a tantrum I hug my child and genuinely tell him that I hear his pain and that I'll help him work through it."

Shifting your parenting approach is a big transition, and you can expect some bumps as you and your children learn new patterns of relating. It doesn't mean that you're doing anything wrong. In fact, what's happening is that you're healing old hurt feelings so they stop driving new bad behavior. When your child acts out, he's showing you feelings from the past when you punished or yelled. It takes extra compassion from you, but your empathic response will heal those hurts so you can all move on.

So ditch that guilt -- you're paying the price, after all, and making amends now, by helping your child through all those old hurt feelings. Besides, feeling bad doesn't help you act "good," any more than it helps your child. Here's your plan.  READ POST

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 | Permalink

"All communication is either an SOS or a care package." -- Kelly Bryson

You’ve probably heard the term “Acting out’ refer to misbehaving.  It actually means to act out a feeling that you can't express in words.

So when your three year old hits the baby, or your five year old throws a toy at you, or your seven year old slams the door, they’re acting out.  You could respond with punishment.  After all, the behavior is clearly unacceptable.  But you would be missing the feeling that your child is finding so unbearable that he has to act it out. You would be missing your child’s SOS.  READ POST

Friday, March 21, 2014 | Permalink