Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Time Travel Tuesday: Mythbusting Positive Discipline

I'm heading to Chicago this weekend to attend the Chicago Objectivist Society's MiniCon and talk just a bit about Positive Discipline! Specifically, I'll be focusing on the really awesomely effective problem-solving and communication techniques that I've learned through my study of PD, and how they can be used with all of our relationships, not just between parent and child.

It's my first solo gig, as Kelly won't be joining me in Chicago, so that should be an interesting experience. I was only half-joking about bringing a life-size cardboard cut-out of her to pretend to talk to. :P

Anyway, Positive Discipline is a set of parenting ideas and tools that facilitate good communication and mutual, respectful problem-solving. It is non-punitive and anti-reward-systems, which puts PD proponents like me at odds with those who promote more conventional parenting ideas (including the ones we were raised with).

PD is sometimes a source of misunderstanding between parents. When people hear that we do not punish our children and that we do not use reward systems (like gold stars or prizes) for good behavior, sometimes they are under the impression that anything goes at our house, that we live in crazy chaos (which is, admittedly, sometimes true, but not because of PD) where our children's whims determine what happens around here.

Nothing could be further from the truth. But this misconception is understandable because non-punitive/non-reward-system discipline is very different from what most of us experienced as children, and, I think too, because it is at odds with some underlying (perhaps unexamined) premises held about child development and behavior, the goal of parenting, cultural norms and expectations, etc. some of which I've tried to examine in other blog posts.

In this week's Time Travel Tuesday post, "Mythbusting Positive Discipline" (originally posted in January of this year), I tried to address some of the common misconceptions about what non-punitive discipline/PD entails, and I think I did a pretty good job. I'll share one misconception here, but check out the rest of the post.

The Pollyanna Myth: Positive Discipline means everyone is happy all the time!

I think this misunderstanding is rooted in the word "positive" (though now that I think about it, perhaps most of the misunderstandings are for the same reason). Indeed, Jane Nelsen, who coined the term, has said that this is something she hears a lot, too. 
The fact of the matter is--SPOILER ALERT for all you non-parents--sometimes the child will be less-than-thrilled at what you have to say or do. And those times are not all that fun for Mom and Dad either. Parenting is fun and challenging and very rewarding--but it's not all puppies and rainbows (no matter which discipline method you use).

There's another myth I'd like to address at some point which was not included in that post, the myth that kids who are not punished will grow up to be whim-worshipers. But I'll do that another time.

I'd love to answer more questions about the whys and wherefores of non-punitive discipline, either here on my blog, or on our podcast, so please ask! You can leave a comment here, or if you have a podcast question, leave it at our Google moderator page.

See you in Chicago, I hope!

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