When my daughters were very young, I participated in a book study parenting class offered at their pre-school. The class was based on the classic parenting book 'Children the Challenge'. This was the go-to manual for the parenting approach based on the work of psychologist Alfred Adler. I was looking for a parenting approach that did not involve spanking, bribing or punishment. I had an immediate positive response to the book. It made perfect sense. Parenting was about guiding and influencing not ordering and controlling. The more I understood and practiced using the strategies with my children the more enrolled I became.
Understanding the motivation behind my children's misbehavior was paramount in my ability to respond in ways that actually eliminated it. In the beginning I took what I was reading with reservation. You know, 'I'll wait and see how it goes'. Soon I had a very encouraging experience when my oldest was 5 1/2 and the youngest was 18 months.Whenever I was in another room on the phone or just going to the bathroom, I would hear a blood curdling scream from the little one. Immediately, I would drop everything and run in to rescue her from her 'should know better' big sister. According to the principles of Adler, children misinterpret how to be important in the family. My oldests mistaken goal was undue attention...attention no matter if it was negative or positive. So, in this instance daugher number 1 would touch the little one, or tweak her in some way, and the little one would cry...I would would run in to investigate. The oldest would shrug her shoulders and the little one couldn't tell me what happened. No way to referee, I would assume it was the older sister's fault. So, although cautious, I decided to try something different.
Next time I heard the scream...I didn't go in. I waited. Another scream. I waited. Silence. This occurred several more times over the next couple of weeks. Each time I ignored the behavior of both girls, the screaming was less intense and was of shorter duration. Until, low and behold it stopped altogether. This was amazing to me that both girls were working together to get me to react. No reaction from me, meant it wasn't worth doing. I was hooked on this approach.
As a Marriage and Family Therapist, when I saw families in my private counseling practice this is the parenting approach I taught. I have raised two daughters and now have 4 grandchildren ranging in age from 18 months to 13 years. I have been well trained in the Positive Discipline approach outlined by Alfred Alder and written about by several authors who have sought to put his teachings in a useable, intuitive, workable parenting system. Not only did I master the principles with my own children, I have worked with Lynn Lott and Jane Nelson, both authors of several books on this parenting style. In my own experience raising my children and working with families in private practice and in my online classes, Positive Discipline is my choice for teaching parents how to be effective in raising responsible, self-confident, self-reliant, loving and cooperative kids. This work we do together is not therapy but education to help moms and dads take the stress out of parenting, develop powerful solutions to everyday parenting concerns and maximize the pleasure of parenting.
There is no greater satisfaction than knowing you understand the motivation behind misbehavior and have the tools to effectively improve your parenting skills and family atmosphere.