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Curiosity Questions: An excerpt from Keeping the Joy in Marriage eWorkbook

Posted by Dr. Jane Nelsen on 10/8/2013 to Articles

Notice the physiology of what happens when you receive a command. Do you feel your body tense? Do you notice how you want to resist?
Now notice what happens in your body when you are respectfully asked a question? Do you feel more open? Do you notice that you feel more inclined to search for an answer? Do you feel more cooperative?


Posted by Dr. Jane Nelsen on 11/23/2012 to Articles
Close your eyes and remember the messages you received from parents and teachers about mistakes when you were a child.  When you made a mistake, did you receive the message that you were stupid, inadequate, bad, a disappointment, a klutz?  When hearing these messages, what did you decide about yourself and about what to do in the future?

Connection Before Correction

Posted by Dr. Jane Nelsen on 3/24/2012 to Articles
Connection Before CorrectionExtensive research shows that we cannot influence children in a positive way until we create a connection with them. It is a brain (and heart) thing. Sometimes we have to stop dealing with the misbehavior and first heal the relationship.

Connection creates a sense of safety and openness. Punishment, lecturing, nagging, scolding, blaming or shaming create fight, flight, or freeze.


Posted by Dr. Jane Nelsen on 2/24/2012 to Articles
Many of you know that we have a Positive Discipline Social Network where members encourage and support each other in the practical application of Positive Discipline. Recently someone posted a discussion about a friend who is feeling discouraged about a son who keeps getting into trouble at a school that uses the colored card system. Every time he “misbehaves,” he gets a colored card and his parents are expected to punish him at home.


Posted by Lynn Lott and Jane Nelsen on 12/5/2011 to Articles

We have become vividly aware of how skilled most of us are in using enabling responses with our children, and how unskilled we are in using empowering responses.

Our definition of enabling is, "Getting between young people and life experiences to minimize the consequences of their choices."

Follow Through

Posted by Cheryl Erwin on 9/28/2011 to Articles
You hear a lot of talk these days about boundaries. Oprah talks about setting healthy boundaries. Parenting books explain how to set boundaries. Parents everywhere understand the need for rules. So what, precisely, is it that makes discipline so frustrating? The way I see it, it isn't setting the rules and boundaries that's the problem for most parents: it's following through.

Child Discipline: To Punish or Not

Posted by Dr. Jane Nelsen on 9/1/2011 to Articles
What do you think of when you hear the word “discipline”? Most people think of punishment. I invite you to think a little deeper starting with the exploration of the long-term results of punishment.

When children are punished they do not learn self-discipline. Punishment provides “external” motivation. Self-discipline requires “inner” motivation.

How Do You Motivate a Teen?

Posted by Dr. Jane Nelsen on 7/13/2011 to Articles
Teen MotivationThere are many reasons why teens lack motivation -- to do what parents want them to do. (You'll notice they don't lack motivation to do what they want to do -- talk on the phone, skateboard, shop, party, etc.) For now, I'll mention just a few:

Family Meetings - Podcast

Posted by Dr. Jane Nelsen and Mary Nelsen-Tamborski on 7/11/2011 to Podcasts
Family MeetingsSeveral years ago some Adlerians recorded a bunch of family meetings in different families. For two years they looked for the perfect family meeting. Finally they gave up because they couldn't find a perfect family meeting. However, they were delighted with the positive results in families (more effective communication, focusing on solutions, having more fun together) even though their meetings were not perfect.

When Parents Lose It

Posted by Dr. Jane Nelsen on 6/28/2011 to Articles
Have you ever “lost it” with you kids? My guess is that most people will answer, “Yes,” to this question. The next question is, “Then what did you do.” Did you feel guilty and beat up on yourself. Or did you rejoice because you just provided your children with a model of learning from mistakes? A primary theme of Positive Discipline is that “mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn.” This is true for adults as well as children.

Another Hug Story - Podcast

Posted by Dr. Jane Nelsen on 5/19/2011 to Podcasts
HugsSome of you may know that a Hug is one of my favorite Positive Discipline Tools. During this podcast you will understand why as I interview Beth Whitehead after she sent me the following success story.

I Love You and the Answer is "No"

Posted by Dr. Jane Nelsen and Mary Nelsen-Tamborski on 4/28/2011 to Podcasts
Rudolf Dreikurs taught the importance Kind and Firmof being both kind and firm in our relations with children. Kindness is important in order to show respect for the child. Firmness is important in order to show respect for ourselves and for the needs of the situation. Authoritarian methods usually lack kindness. Permissive methods lack firmness. Kindness and firmness are essential for Positive Discipline.

Teaching Responsibility: When Does it Happen?

Posted by Dr. Jane Nelsen on 3/30/2011 to Articles
I have been hearing questions such as, “How can I get my two-year-old to pick up his toys by himself?” (You can’t.) “Why does my teenager say she’ll empty the garbage and then avoid doing it unless I nag?” (She has a gazillion other life questions plaguing her.) “Why won’t my kids be responsible and just do what they know they should do?” (Do you always do what you know you should do—especially when someone else demands it of you?)

Special Time With Your Teenager

Posted by Single Dad Brad on 3/15/2011 to Podcasts
Special TimeWhen your child becomes a teenager, it is not uncommon for them to become defiant. They will often contradict you and even try to sabotage your best efforts to create a harmonious family life. This can be very discouraging to parents and usually results in constant power struggles. Positive Discipline has a great tool called "Special Time" which can work wonders to create a connection with your teenager and solve a lot of the power struggles in your home.

I Can't Do It!

Posted by Dr. Jane Nelsen on 3/8/2011 to Questions & Answers

I have a student in my kindergarten class who is constantly saying "I can't do it". This applies to everything from taking off her shoes to doing work. She has a difficult time following directions, and rarely does what she is asked to do. She is the last one to get her coat off when she gets here in the morning, and she is always the last to get ready for recess and when it is time to go home. I have tried encouraging her with "you haven't even tried yet, how do you know you can't do it?" or "I know you can do it", but these encouraging statements don't seem to help. If I try to give her timeout when she refuses to work, she would spend all day in a timeout. I think she enjoys the attention she gets, but if I ignore her behaviour, it distracts the whole class. What is an effective way to deal positively with this type of behaviour? Thank-you.

Weaning from the Pacifier-Should I, or Shouldn’t I?

Posted by Brad Ainge on 2/28/2011 to Questions & Answers


I received the following question from Tiana:

I would like to know if you have any suggestions as to how to help get my children (21/2 and 41/2 years old) off of using a pacifier.  I have never really worried about it before and let them use it as they please because I know it comforts them and I did not see any harm.  I also remember my mother allowing me to suck my thumb as long as I wanted to and she never nagged me or made me feel bad about it.  How wonderful my feelings are about that now looking back. I eventually gave up thumb sucking on my own free will as a freshman in high school.    I took Lawson to the orthodontist today because he has a large open mouth overbite that is affecting his speech and teeth.  The orthodontist did say that the pacifier was definitely adding to the problem.  I made him say it again, "Are you SURE?"
He was actually pretty nice and said that he thought it was important to somehow get the child on board with the decision to stop using it and not just rip them away. I want to make sure that I do this in the most kind, respectful way as possible...if possible. I also feel as though I need to do the same with his little brother Ryan because it would be so hard for him to see his brother still using a passy.  Help! Opinions? Suggestions?

Teen Getting Poor Grades & Being Suspended

Posted by Dr. Jane Nelsen on 2/21/2011 to Questions & Answers

I attended your lecture on Positive Discipline held at Mira Costa on the 21st, because I really need help on where to go from here. I have an almost 13 year old boy who is testing his limits (and mine). What would be the best approach for me in the following instances:

He was getting poor grades in two of his classes so I said until the grades are back up to an acceptable grade he was grounded from everything! Obviously this was before your lecture. Just as he gets A's on the next two tests (after just one week) he gets a detention at school for spitting a spit wad. Now I am really showing my disappointment, but let him have his life back. The following week he gets another detention for misusing the computers in the library. At this point he just knows how disappointed his father and I are. That same night he is at a friend's and the four friends get into mischief by damaging the neighbors property. On all the occasions he said he did things even though he knew they were wrong but he didn't want his friends to think he was weak and didn't want to be seen as NOT COOL. How should I handle this kind of stuff? Please help.

Using Candles to Deal with the Belief Behind the Behavior

Posted by Dr. Jane Nelsen on 2/21/2011 to Articles
There is a belief behind every behavior, but we usually only deal with the behavior. Dealing with the belief behind the behavior does not mean you don't deal with the behavior. You are most effective when you are aware of both the behavior and the belief behind it.

Forgetfulness: Irresponsible or Normal

Posted by Dr. Jane Nelsen on 2/4/2011 to Questions & Answers


My question is how responsible can I legitimately expect my 10 yr old stepson to be. I believe he "forgets" to do chores right or brush his teeth etc. because he gets special undivided attention when he is getting in trouble even though it is negative attention. He is a very intelligent boy and has no mental challenges whatsoever. We have issues every single day of him "forgetting" to do everything. He refuses to take any responsibility or accountability for his actions. His regular response is..."uh I forgot".


Posted by Cheryl L. Erwin, MA, MFT Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer on 1/31/2011 to Articles
Parenting is an odd thing. Just about the time it starts to feel easy, your kids grow up and move out. There have been many times in the years since my son started college that I’ve wanted to tell him, “You have to come back—I’m so much better at this now!”

Forgiving Yourself as a Parent

Posted by Cheryl L. Erwin, MA, MFT Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer on 1/26/2011 to Articles
Facebook is an intriguing invention. I was hanging out there one evening and posted my status at the moment, which was that I was writing parenting commentaries for my weekly public radio show. “Does anyone have any suggestions?” I wondered to my Facebook friends.

Not four seconds later, a message from a Positive Discipline colleague of mine who lives in Ohio popped up on my screen. “How about this? How do you forgive yourself when you discover that you’re using the television as a babysitter for your child, even though you don’t think that’s okay?”

Disrespectful Children

Posted by Jane Nelsen on 1/15/2011 to Questions & Answers


How should I handle a 4.5 year old who talks back to me?


Posted by Jane Nelsen on 12/27/2010 to Parenting Tool Cards
When parents say, “My child doesn’t listen,” what they really mean is that my child doesn’t obey.” Parents give orders and children resist orders—just as their parent most likely would. If you are experiencing power-struggles with your children, take a look at your part in creating the power-struggle.

Bus Behavior

Posted by Jane Nelsen, Roslyn Duffy, Linda Escobar, Kate Ortolano, and Debbie Owen-Sohocki on 12/6/2010 to Articles
Problems on the bus seem to be a major concern kindergarten through high school. Look at the behavior on any bus, anywhere in the world, and you will have a barometer of the development of (or lack of) internalized social skills, life skills, and social interest.

Time Out for Children Under the Age of Reason

Posted by Jane Nelsen & Cheryl Erwin on 11/22/2010 to Articles
In all of our books we talk about "Positive Time Out." There are several points that need to be made regarding time out for children who have not yet reached the age of reason: