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About Positive Discipline Positive Discipline is a program developed by Dr. Jane Nelsen. It is based on the work of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs and designed to teach young people to become responsible, respectful and resourceful members of their communities. All writers for COMPASS have been trained and certified through the Positive Discipline Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating respectful relationships in homes and schools.

COMPASS Positive Discipline E-Zine Editorial Director Ariadne Brill Contributing Editors Kelly Gfroerer Brad Ainge

Copyright 2017 Distribution and/or reproduction of all materials without prior consent of each individual contributor is a violation of copyright. For reprint permission of articles, please contact individual contributors directly.

This publication is not for sale or resale. The materials contained herein are intended as educational and informational materials only. Materials are not a substitute for counseling or mental health services and not provided as such.

If you are concerned about your child’s health and development please contact your health provider.

Fall 2017

A Little Bit of Back Talk The last issue was so helpful for understanding my child’s emotional needs. Much gratitude. –Vivian H.

Image via © jul14ka Cover design Ariadne Brill

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In This Issue

Back To School: Who’s Job Is It


Revving Up for the Rhythm Of School


Use Your Words...Being Kind and Firm


Missing Key To Better Mornings


18 Questions To Get Kids To Talk About School


What Do You Want In Your Relationship


Winning Cooperation


Positive Discipline Bulletin Board


Back to School: Who's Job is It? by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D.

The back to school honeymoon is beginning. Many children (and teachers) are making vows that this will be their best school year ever. How long will the back to school honeymoon last? That could depend on how you and your children prepare. How can parents help children prepare for a more successful school year that will last after the excitement of shopping for new clothes and school materials? Plan and shop WITH your children, not for your children. Before you go shopping with your children, ask (don’t tell) them what they need. This engages them in thinking and

planning skills. Of course you can set the budget and invite your children to do some research to discover if their list of “needs” fits within the budget. Increase their interest by engaging them in a discussion about the products they want to buy. (See Emma's Earth Friendly Back to School Supplies below.) Help children create their goals for the school year. Please note that helping does not mean doing it for them. Set aside some time (that you and your child both agree to) where you can sit down with paper and pencil to make a list of goals. You job will be to ask questions that invite your child to think about what he or she wants to accomplish.

Be supportive without taking over. This is the touchy part. Many children are rebelling because they believe their grades are more important to their parents than they are. Some children will turn this into a power struggle, “You can’t make me.” Others will get revenge, even if they hurt themselves while trying to hurt you back, by doing poorly or even failing. Avoid the power struggles and revenge cycles by showing unconditional love and continuing to engage your children in discussions where you invite them (through curiosity questions) to think about what they want and what they need to do to accomplish what they want. When he was 16-years-old, my son hated school. I engaged in classic power struggles every morning trying to get him out of bed and off to school on time. Then I remembered Curiosity Questions: Me: Why don’t you want to go to school?

Son: Lot’s of people, even millionaires, have dropped out of school.

Avoid the power struggles and revenge cycles by showing unconditional love.

Me: I know that is true. Do you know anyone who has dropped out of school and how they are doing? Son: No. (He didn’t want to talk about the friend who was in jail or the one working in a fast food restaurant.) Me: What kind of job will you be able to get if you don’t have a high school diploma?

Son: I could be a contractor. Me: Yes, and that is an honorable occupation, and I’m sure you could do that. What have you thought about doing that you wouldn’t be able to do without a diploma?

Son: It is stupid! Me: I can see why you would think that. And, I no longer want to have power struggles with you about going. You are now old enough to drop out if you want to get a job and pay rent here until you are 18. Before you decide, I have a few questions? Son: (Glare.) Me: Have you thought about what will happen if you don’t get a high school education?

Son, reluctantly: I couldn’t be an engineer or a pilot. (This is where I could see his thinking wheels turning before he blurted out this conclusion:) Okay, I’ll go, but I’m not going to like it. Me. That is brilliant thinking. Many successful people know they have to do what they don’t like now so they can do what they want in the future.

Allow children to learn from their mistakes. Once you have been supportive by engaging your children in planning and goal setting, have faith in them to carry out their plans and learn from their mistakes. What does this mean? No nagging. Their homework is not your job; it is theirs. If they don’t do it, allow them to experience the consequences of a poor grade. Show empathy, not disappointment. Let them know that you have faith in them to figure out what they need to do to accomplish their goals.

Your toughest job as a parent is to accept that school is your children’s job, not yours.

Limit your involvement. Allowing children to do their job does not mean your job is over. You job is to continue to be supportive without taking over. You can set times that you will be available for homework support, and make it clear that you will not be available for last minute rushes. You can continue to be supportive through empathy (validating feelings) when mistakes are made, and brainstorming sessions to help your children find new solutions that work for them. Your toughest job as a parent is to accept that school is your children’s job, not yours. The more you involve them, so they see school as their job, the longer their enthusiasm for school may last.

Dr. Jane Nelsen Dr. Jane Nelsen is a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Counselor in South Jordan, UT and San Diego, CA. She is the author and/or coauthor of the Positive Discipline Series.

Jody McVittie

Revving up for the Rhythm of School Transitions are hard for kids.

They are hard for adults. Maybe you have enjoyed the summer playing and having a more flexible schedule. Maybe you have struggled with a huge number of different schedules as you’ve managed different childcare situations over the summer. Either way when school starts, both you and your children will be making a shift to the rhythm dictated by school schedules. For most of us it is a familiar rhythm – but unpracticed.

What kinds of things change for your family?  Getting up at a different time?  Packing lunches?

 Packing bags?  Picking out clothes?  After school sports?  Making time for homework?  Dinner time? Those are a lot of changes that happen in a very short time and often creates a week or two of chaos until the family readjusts.

Connecting before going out into the world eases the transition for your children.

 Sit down as a family and make a list of the things that have to happen for each member of the family to get to work and school.

 Think about what things can be done the evening before. Even though it is a little more work at night, mornings go much more smoothly if there is less to accomplish.

 The evening list could include: packing lunches, packing school bags/briefcases, picking out clothes. It might even include setting out the breakfast dishes.

 Have each person draw or write their own evening check off list.  Plan for some time for family connection in the evening (a short story, a song together, sharing what you are thankful for etc.)

 Plan for some short connection time in the morning. It could be eating breakfast together, reading a short story, snuggling for a few minutes on the couch or even a ritual handshake that is your secret code for “I’ll be thinking of you.”

Jody McVittie, MD Jody McVittie, MD is the co-founder and Executive Director of Sound Discipline, a non-profit that trains educators, youth outreach programs, early childhood educators, and parenting educators in trauma-informed practices to improve outcomes. A lead trainer for the Positive Discipline Association and co-author of the Positive Discipline in the Classroom and School series

Use Your Words… What’s Bugging You? Interesting phrase, “What’s bugging you?” And, at this time of year, it’s easy to see where it comes from. The little creepy crawlers are marching all over the place. Some of them have taken wing and are likely to make emergency landings in your salad, on your arm, or splat! on your windshield. They can drive you crazy, crawling around so fast that when you try to step on them, they escape from under your shoe completely unscathed! They are fast, they are resilient, and they are everywhere! So what’s bugging you? What are the little creepy-crawly ever-present thoughts that get under your skin?

Kids struggling to give up summer and go back to school. Routines about to change – you are going to have to get serious about being the bedtime police, the homework patrol. Ugh!

You know what I’m talking about! These bugs can wake you up at night, cause a frown to creep across your face; they turn you into an irritated crab instead of the easygoing person you usually are!

Don’t you wish bugs would just go away? Like somebody would invent a spray you could just aim at the problem, push the button, and instantly it would be gone! And, if the problem were your child, spouse or a teacher, they would be transformed into a friendly, collaborative, sensitive type. One who can read your mind and anticipate your moods and needs so that you don’t have to tell them, or—

heaven forbid—ask for what you want! Why can’t those kids just do what they are supposed to do? Or, those teachers – why can’t they better understand your child’s needs? But guess what? Those bugs are here for a reason. If you like birds, you have to endure bugs. Bugs and birds are all just creatures. They are only perceived to be positive or negative depending on your point of view. Some folks really like bugs—they make their careers by getting to know bugs. They accept bugs for what they are and they love them. What a concept!

Bugs call us to pay attention. Spend a moment thinking about what it is that really irritates you. It can be a person, a situation, a belief you have.

Take the time to figure it out. What is it that is so irritating? If it’s a person, chances are, he may not know it. It may be obvious to you but not to him. Once you’re clear, the next step is to communicate how you’re feeling, what’s bugging you, and what you wish to have instead. Do the thing we invite our chil-

dren to do all the time – Use Your Words! Here is an example of how it might sound: “I feel___ when you___ because __ and I wish___.” Or, “It bugs me when___ because___ and I wish___.”

This is called an I statement, or for those who are young at heart, bugs and wishes. It starts with you. You take responsibility for how you are feeling, and you tell the person who also has a stake in the relationship why you feel that way and what you’d like instead. You can be both firm and kind at the same time by practicing this tool.

Remember, firmness is for you, the boundary you set for your own self. Kindness is what you show for the needs of the other person. Mutual respect is actually firmness and kindness at the same time, and it involves trust. You must trust yourself enough to know what matters to you, and that you matter enough to communicate your needs clearly. You must trust the other and believe he or she can handle what you have to say.

Mutual respect is actually firmness and kindness at the same time, and it involves trust.

It’s not your job to imagine what the other person will do with the information. It is your job to share, respectfully.

It’s a new beginning; a new school year is about ready to start. Make a personal plan for some new tools and skills you would like to practice as a parent and family support giver.

It’s not magic, but these words do have power to open conversation that can lead to immediate change.

Sign up for a parenting class and prepare to learn more about how to be both kind and firm at the same time.

And remember that only about 10 percent of what you communicate is the words. Your body, your facial expression, and your tone of voice communicate the other 90+ percent.

Mutually respectful leadership skills translate across the family, at school and at work. Pay attention and use your words! Maybe it’s not squashing bugs but learning about how to get along with them that will bring us more personal peace.

Dina Emser Dina Emser, Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer, Leadership Coach

The Missing Key To Better Mornings Kelly Pfeiffer


ornings can be quite hectic when they involve guiding and prompting children to eat breakfast, stop playing with toys, get dressed and travel to the car. For younger kids, add climbing into a car seat and sitting still enough for buckling procedures. Older kids often need reminders about lunch boxes, back packs, homework and sports equipment. The task of getting kids up and out the door each morning feels “full” – full of details, full of nags, full of tension and time constraints.

Curiosity Questions for Morning Routines During my live parenting workshops, I often recommend visual routine charts as a way for kids to “see” the tasks they need to complete each morning. Often I ask a volunteer to be a child who has learned the steps in a routine. Then I ask curiosity questions to the “child” (volunteer) to help the child stay focused on completing the next task. My goal is to show parents an alternative to nagging – by asking curiosity questions. When parents nag, kids can tune us out. But when parents ask questions, kids have to turn the wheels on in their brains to search for the answers. Examples of curiosity questions to use with routines and routine charts:

What’s next on your routine?  What do you need to do next to get out the door on time?

 What ideas do you have for getting your clothes on ?

Connection for Morning Routines The routines tool is a good one, but one I think is best paired with connection. A morning routine full of boring “must do” tasks won’t produce long term results for your child. What your child craves most is connection with you. Build a morning routine or your child around the concept of connection. To start, ask yourself these questions:

 How can I weave connection activities into my child’s morning routine?

 How does my child like to connect with me in the morning?

 What tasks can my child and I do together? These connections can be as short as a “hug mom” between your child getting dressed and eating breakfast or as long as the two of you brushing your teeth together or reading a story together.

Bring Play into Your Morning Routine

Here are a few ideas to get your mind turning:

In our culture the word routines does sound boring and is usually associated with dry tasks, but it doesn’t have to be that way at your house.

 Joke of the day (your kid can subscribe to this on-line

and tell you the joke)  2 minutes of snuggle time  High fives throughout the routine on Mondays, hugs on

Tuesdays, hip bump on Wednesdays, crazy dance on Thursdays, etc.  Make up a silly morning song  Ask your kids for their ideas to combine routines, curios-

ity questions and connection so that mornings meet your needs and the needs of your kids.

Kelly Pfeiffer A Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer, Kelly teaches live interactive workshops to parents and child care providers on child development, social-emotional skills, self-care for parents, conflict resolution for families and Positive Discipline tools.

Great Questions That Get Kids Talking About School By Ariadne Brill


o you wonder how your child’s day at school was each day but have a hard time getting your child to open up past “good” and “nothing really.” Ever wondering how you can talk about bullies, assignments and the new teacher? Want to ask about a test that is coming up without annoying or nagging your child to share something with you?

Children actually love to talk about their day and what they are doing, but sometimes it takes a little bit of prompting and patience. Here are a few tips for getting your child to open up plus many fun questions to get the conversation started:

 Connect first: Creating a relaxed and welcoming environment to get your child feeling connected to you can make a big difference to how talkative they feel.

 Listen more: Children respond more to questions when we really listen to them. Avoid jumping in mid conversation to give advice. “Don’t fix, rescue or talk children out of their feelings.” -Jane Nelsen

 Make it a habit: Talking about school daily is a great opportunity for children to feel like you care. A habit of sharing also builds trust and increases cooperation.

These questions are a mix of fun, open and more serious questions that can encourage your child to share about their day - the good, the not so good and even the really tough topics like bullies, worries and fears about school.

Questions To Encourage Children to Talk about School

You can pick one or two questions each day to get started. Notice if your child is interested and having fun and then decide if you want to add more questions or save them for another day.

1. What did you think of the first assignment you had to do today? 2. If you could do any moment at school over today, what would it look like? 3. What was the funniest thing that happened in your class today? 4. Which assignment/activity did you feel most confident about today? 5. If you could change just ONE thing about school, what would that be? 6. What made you laugh in school today? 7. What made you worry in school today? 8. What 3 words would you use to describe your best friend in school? 9. If you had $1,000 to buy something for your school, what would you buy and where would you put it? 10. What qualities do you like most about your teacher? 11. What is something your teacher said to you today that you are still thinking about? 12. If you could plan tomorrow's lesson, what would you make it all about? 13. What is your best friends favorite part of school? Is that the same for you or different? 14. If a famous person could come to teach a class at your school, who would that be and what should they teach?

Cooperation tip! Create a special moment of connection and listening by slowing down and talking for a little while after school.

15. When I went to school there were some kids that were a bit mean, teasing and such...have you noticed anything like that at your school? 16. There was a boy/girl in my school when I was in grade x that was bullied all the time, I never quite new what to do about that. Have you ever felt that way? 17. Was there anything you wanted to learn more about today but didn't have time to ask

the teacher about? 18. What are you looking forward to learning in school tomorrow/this month/this year?

Listening to your child can be a very encouraging experience and a way to re-connect with your child after a long day at school. If you notice your child isn’t really wanting to open up and talk about their day, try giving them some time to adjust to being home first. Bring more joy into your home and confidence into your parenting. Sign up for the Positive Parenting Connection newsletter

Ariadne Brill Ariadne is the mom to two boys and one girl. She is a Certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator and her specialty is helping parents find more calm and confidence on their parenting journey. Ariadne has training in Psychology, child development, communication and family counseling. Connect with Ariadne over at the Positive Parenting Connection, an online resource for parents and caregivers dedicated to promoting peaceful, playful and positive parenting. Positive Parenting Connection

Positive Discipline Bulletin Board

What do you Want in Your Relationship? by Jane Nelsen & Mary Nelsen Tamborski,


t all started when Terese and Paul Bradshaw shared that they had used the Positive Discipline Tool Cards for their relationship (even though they are written as parenting tools). They found that the concepts taught in the parenting tool cards were so effective in their relationship that they felt like they were on their honeymoon after 25 years of marriage. Thus the idea of Positive Discipline for Couples was born. They are called Keeping the Joy in Relationships. It has been such fun to collect success stories from all over the world. We are happy to share the first card now. Relationship Map If you are in the United States and want to go to Canada, it doesn’t make sense to head south; nor does it make sense to engage in behaviors that keep you from achieving what you want in your relationship. You will have a more enjoyable journey if you create a relationship map to guide you to your intended destination—and follow it. Couple Activity

 Each partner make a list of 5 things you think are necessary to create a great relationship.

 Share your lists with each other.  Discuss items on your lists that may be important to you but not necessarily to your partner.

 Together create a list that looks and feels good to both of you.  Frame your final list and hang it in a prominent place where you can both see it every day. Tool Card in Action It was great to hear each other’s list and think, “Wow—that’s nothing,” or, “Is that all?” We both felt more connected instantly after sharing each other’s lists. When we did Step No. 1 of the activity, Mike commented on one of the things on my list (wanting him to be more interested in my career and to show it by asking questions and genuinely seeming like he cared).

Learn more about Positive Discipline for Couples at the

He explained that of course he cares! The reason he doesn’t ask more questions is because it’s new and somewhat foreign to him and he “felt intimidated” about not asking the right questions or even knowing what questions to ask. He also said, “I am always interested in what excites and motivates you, so please don’t wait for me to ask—just share with me and know that I am interested!” Good grief. Will I ever get over wanting him to read my mind? That is a behavior I need to change. Laney and Mike, California Tool Card in Action

We loved this exercise. It’s a no brainer for any couple to do on a regular basis! Our lists turned out to be pretty similar, although I placed 'Sex' a lot higher up than Penny, which of course promoted an honest discussion about sex drives and turn-ons. Bart and Penny, Sydney, Australia Tool Card In Action You might think it is obvious, that you have to know where you want to go before you start a journey. But the truth is that in many cases when it comes to marriage we don´t know exactly where we´re going. It´s like we think that we get married and the path starts coming by itself. Every couple should work on this before getting married. After working on this tool card we realized the importance of knowing what we want first, and knowing what the other wants. Fortunately, we weren´t that lost. We both agreed on some of the BIG topics, and it made us remember why we decided to get married in the first place. The most important thing was realizing that from now on we had to stop every now and then and see if we really are heading where we want to go. And, if we catch ourselves going the wrong way, we can always go back and take the right way again. Fabiola Narváez ,Quito-Ecuador

Dr. Jane Nelsen Dr. Jane Nelsen is a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Counselor in South Jordan, UT and San Diego, CA. She is the author and/or coauthor of the Positive Discipline Series.

Mary Nelsen Tamborski Mary Nelsen Tamborski, wife and mother of three young boys, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego. She is also a Certified Positive Discipline Trainer and Parenting Coach.

Winning Cooperation Excerpt from Positive Discipline Parenting Tools Book by Jane Nelsen, Mary Nelsen Tamborski and Brad Ainge

Children feel encouraged when you understand and respect their point of view.

A Positive Discipline Tool 1. Express understanding for the child’s thoughts and feelings. 2. Show empathy without condoning challenging behavior. 3. Share a time when you have felt or behaved similarly. 4. Share your thoughts and feelings. Children listen to you after they feel listened to. 5. Focus on solutions together.

Rudolf Dreikurs taught the importance of “winning children over,” instead of “winning over children.” Winning over children invites rebellion or giving up. Winning children over invites cooperation.

Winning Cooperation Success Story My son has always been a very good student. School has always come easy for him, and he ended up graduating at the top of his high school class and winning an academic scholarship to college. My daughter, on the other hand, really has to work hard to get good grades. Lately she has been struggling in her math class. I noticed a couple of F’s showing up on her assignments, so we had to come up with a solution.

The first thing I did to win her cooperation was to express my understanding about how difficult math can be. Then I shared my experience with calculus in college. The first day of my calculus class, the instructor turned his back to the class and started writing on the chalkboard. Chalk was flying as he quickly demonstrated functions, derivatives, and complex equations. I leaned over to the person next to me and asked, “Is this the first day of class? Did I miss something?” After class I approached the teacher and asked him the same questions. He replied, “This is a college calculus class. You are expected to have read and studied the first two chapters.” This was news to me, and I realized that I was never going to pass this class without some help.

semester in the math lab trying to understand the concepts of calculus, and with the help of those wonderful tutors, I was able to earn an A in calculus. Emma loved this story. I asked Emma if it might help her to do her homework in the math lab at her school. She agreed to try it and started going to school early or staying late to do her homework. Eventually she was able to catch up and turn in her missing assignments—just like her dad.

I immediately went to the math lab and did my homework with the help of the teacher’s aides. I spent every day that

Brad Ainge Brad Ainge is a full-time single dad and part-time blogger. His hobbies include: laundry, dish washing, animal control, and referee for the occasional “He started it!” “No, she started it!” debate. His goal is to someday escape to a remote Scottish village and spend his days playing golf. He started blogging to share the unique experience of juggling the responsibilities of raising kids, dating, and earning a living.

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Compass Positive Discipline E-Zine Back To School Fall 2017  

Back to school issue: Building connection, winning cooperation, fun questions that get kids talking about school, Setting boundaries, taking...

Compass Positive Discipline E-Zine Back To School Fall 2017  

Back to school issue: Building connection, winning cooperation, fun questions that get kids talking about school, Setting boundaries, taking...