Workshop: Parenting, the Positive Discipline Way

Mention the word “discipline” in the context of dealing with a child, and what usually comes to mind? Typically, one may have a mental image of a parent or teacher with a fierce look on his/her face, giving a stern lecture or command, with maybe a belt or wooden stick or some spanking implement in hand for good measure.

Now, imagine that you’re a child: how does that sight make you feel? Scared, right? Or maybe even resentful or rebellious. Either way, it’s definitely not very encouraging. But that’s how discipline was traditionally done, right? And we turned out fine, right? Moooore or less fine—right?

But think about this:

“Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like cooperating or doing better?” 

Jane Nelsen

This is one of the most popular quotes on Positive Discipline, and it makes sense, doesn’t it? It’s always better when children behave because they actually want to—not because they were forced to.

I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to attend a workshop on positive discipline a few weeks ago, and it was such a thought-provoking experience. It was so refreshing to realize that yes, discipline does not have to be a painful experience for kids, that correction should not necessarily mean punishment, that you can say “no” and still be kind, and most importantly, that a lot of misbehavior can be prevented in the first place if you build the right environment for good behavior.

The Basics

In essence, positive discipline is anchored on building a loving, respectful relationship with your children, one that gives them a deep sense belonging and allows them to thrive and grow as capable, responsible individuals. 

One of the quotes that I learned during the workshop is this:

            “A misbehaving child is a discouraged child.”

This really struck me because lots of times, my two-year old twins act out because they’re simply craving for more attention from us—they feel the need for more attention and are discouraged that they’re not getting it. As I learned in the workshop, we are all social beings and we always need to feel a connection—children most especially. This connection is a basic foundation of positive discipline because, let’s face it, if your child doesn’t even like you very much, why would she/he obey you?

I’m not saying that I’ve got it all figured out, of course. It’s a learning process, and we have to be in it for the long haul. Right now, I’m still not confident of my grasp of what positive discipline is and how I should be applying it to my twins. Positive discipline is so much different—and harder!—from the usual “Just do as I say because I said so and do it now!” style that I find myself doing many times. In spite of my efforts, it feels like I’m still losing my patience with the twins lots of times, resulting in not so positive moments for all of us. I try to be patient, and positive, and sometimes, well, it doesn’t work.

Except of course, sometimes, lots of times actually, it does work, and it’s beautiful. 

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Our First Halloween Party, with Mommy Bloggers Philippines

I’ve been a mom for nearly two years now, but a lot of times I still feel really clueless. A lot of things are googleable, fortunately, although of course what worked for some may not work for others. Much of the time, you really just have to learn through experience, by plowing through it all, bloopers and all, cluelessness and all.

For example, Halloween. I mean, what is that. I grew up with no concept of Halloween as it is commonly celebrated now, with candies and costumes and kiddie events. When I was growing up November 1 was simply “Undas,” where instead of going to a party you go to the cemetery, and instead of collecting candies you collect the melted wax slowly trickling down the lit candles in front of your dead relatives’ graves. It could also be some sort of family event, though, since you get to meet your other (living) relatives in the cemetery and sit around eating and chatting and, in the case of one memorable Undas year for me, learn to play tong its from your cousins.

That sort of thing is still done now, of course, but somehow somewhere along the way we’ve also picked up the western way of celebrating Halloween by dressing up in costumes and going trick or treating. And apparently, in the kid world, it’s become kind of a big deal.

I used to feel iffy when I first observed this development years ago. Medyo imbyerna lang. I was all, why are we imitating Western customs? Now, however, the practice is so widespread, so I just shrug my shoulders and think, well, resistance is futile. If this is a fun way of injecting a bit fantasy and magic to my kids’ lives, then I guess I’m ok with having them dress up in costumes and participate in a fun event or two.

Now, all this is actually just one long intro to an account of the event we attended last weekend, the first Halloween party of Mommy Bloggers Philippines, a Facebook-based group of, well, mommy bloggers of which I am a member. It was my first time to attend an event with the group and actually only my second blogging-related event, the first being the Ogalala event which was open to everyone anyway. It was also the twins’ first Halloween/trick or treat event.

MBP trick or treat

The whole experience was interesting, a mixed bag of boos and yeys, much like a trick or treat bag I guess. Let me share some highlights:

Yey: I dressed up the twins in fun, hassle-free costumes.

Their age and likot tendencies, the limits of my creativity/craft skills, and my unwillingness to buy ready-made department store costumes were major factors in my decision to dress them up as minions from the film Despicable Me. We already had minion bonnets bought last year, which they haven’t really used beyond a photo opp or two. So it was only a matter of dressing them up in denim jumpers and yellow shirts, and cutting up some old socks to make the logo/patches. Voila, cute minion twins!

twins' minion costume

my twin minions!

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