Early Years classroom

Connect before you correct

SIS parent, James Sievwright, shares what he learnt from an ‘awesome’ Positive Discipline workshop

I’ve been getting tired of my own voice. For those of you of a certain age who remember these kinds of things, my voice has been a “stuck record” droning on at my two kids about never tidying anything up, leaving lights on, abandoning socks and other items of clothing in any corner of the house they fancy, and trying to break their seemingly iron will to never, ever, put their used dishes in the dishwasher. Despite nearly 15 years of trying not to be, I’ve started to sound like my parents. I mean, I love them and all, but you don’t want that really do you? I needed different ideas and a new approach and the stars aligned; Positive Discipline Workshop at school? I was all in!

If you look at an official definition of Positive Discipline, it can sound a touch dry. ChatGPT told me it was “an approach to parenting and child-rearing that focuses on teaching children self-control, responsibility, and problem-solving skills in a respectful and non-punitive way.” However, what ensues in the workshop is far from dry, indeed, it was a lively, engaging, and insightful experience from start to finish.

On arrival, our facilitators, the amazing Natasha and Tess, introduced me and the rest of the group to the overall concept of Positive Discipline, and spoke through its key criteria before leading us through a variety of exercises based on our real-life parenting experiences. These exercises really brought the concept to life and armed us with so many simple and practical tools and ideas to use in challenging situations with our children. The fundamental principle of “connect before you correct” really stuck with me. This speaks to the importance of building and maintaining a strong empathic connection with your kids as opposed to my pre-workshop technique of losing my mind immediately because I’ve found another discarded sock or dirty dish.

Tess and Natasha’s expertise shone throughout the workshop. At every turn they offered up insight and recommendations of tools/approaches to try in different situations. Having started to experiment I can already vouch for the effectiveness of a variety of these in terms of both their positive impact on not only my relationship with the kids but also my own wellbeing and stress levels. “I love you and no” was a beautiful way of handling my son’s limitless desire to buy something, anything, in any retail store we pass. “One word” has proven an effective alternative to angry exchanges about tidying up. “Validating feelings” and “I want a hug” have made for beautiful connection with the kids when they have been angry at something that happened at school.

If you want to know more about those tools and many others, there are more workshops being planned so keep an eye out for those. The session made me appreciate my amazing kids even more and simply spending time with Natasha and Tess is uplifting and life-affirming. That sentiment is super-charged when you realise post session that they have left you with a broader and more positive toolkit to handle challenging parenting situations. Get involved, you won’t regret it.

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