Visiting China

Visiting China…a life changing experience!

By Carol Dores

I recently was fortunate to spend 12 days touring China, followed by co-facilitating a “Teaching Parenting the Positive Discipline Way” workshop, and attending and speaking at a Positive Discipline Conference in China. It was a profound life changing experience, much of which I knew, and brought things to a much deeper level of understanding.

China is so rich in history, which truly forms how people are.  The government controls so much, which provides a safe feeling for people.  Because of this control, I believe it is more difficult for people to change, than it is here (in the U.S.) People are raised with a deep level of respect for their elders, but the respect is not mutual.  Most people are very kind, yet humble, and so self-respect can be challenging.  Parents want what is best for their children, and there is significant pressure on children to succeed from a very early age.  Much of this is the same as we experience in the U.S., but to a different degree.

In teaching Positive Discipline, many participants wanted a formulaic answer to how to implement it, and how to teach it to others.  They are accustomed to having answers provided for them, so being flexible and creative seems to be more challenging.  We all share a love of our children.  Shame, blame and pain seem to be more a part of parenting currently in China than in the U.S., and so the shift to non-punitive methods will be a bigger one.

Like here, competition is embedded in the culture, and begins from an early age of what kindergarten a child will go to.  Many Positive Discipline people in China talk about wanting to collaborate with one another, yet some behave in more of a competitive way.  The same is true to a lesser extent here.

According to Alfred Adler, we are all moving toward the goal of mutual respect and dignity.  It is not a question of the goal, it is more a question of each of our individual starting points.  We find differences individual to individual all over the world.

It is about progress, not perfection.

I am honored and blessed to be doing this work to help families, teachers and communities all over.

It’s about progress, not perfection!

By Carol Dores

As we try to make changes in how we are with our children, we often “should” on ourselves.

“I should have been more patient.”

“I should not have yelled.”

“Shoulding” on ourselves is not helpful.  It is filled with blame and shame, which make us feel worse.

We learn in Positive Discipline that in order to do better, we need to feel better, not worse.

As we learn new tools and strategies, it is easy to fall in to the “should” trap.

Here’s a different way to approach learning these things.

Begin by noticing when you do something that you want to change.  For example, if you want to try to calm down rather than yelling, put a dime in a jar every time you yell.  Just noticing the behavior you want to change is really helpful as a first step. Try that for a week or two.  It is likely that you will begin to notice how you feel before yelling, and you can start to calm yourself down by deep, slow breathing.

It’s really encouraging to look back, and see how much progress has been made. Change can take time, and appreciating the small improvements made are important.  Celebrate the progress.

And remember, life is a journey, and it’s about progress, not perfection.


“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times!”

By Carol Dores

“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times!”

How many of us have said these words to our children? Do they listen any better when we repeat ourselves over and over again? I know mine didn’t.

What can we do to be listened to more?

We can start by asking them, rather than telling them what to do.  When we involve children, they are more likely to be part of things and work cooperatively.  “What are your plans for finishing your homework?”  “What would you like for a snack, an apple or a piece of cheese?” “What do you think can be done to solve this problem?”  These are all examples of ways we can ask our children, and involve them in the thinking and decision making process.

Next, we can take a look at our own listening behavior.  Do you really listen when your children or others are talking to you?  What does good listening look like and sound like?  Looking in to the speaker’s eyes is a good place to start.  Put away anything you are doing – looking at your phone, writing a shopping list, or thinking about what’s on the calendar tomorrow – clear your mind.  Really focus on what the other person is saying.  Repeat back to them what you heard, and ask questions about what they have said.

You can also take time for teaching your children how to listen.  Practice together.  Show them the skills of a good listener.  Practice some more.

If we truly listen to our children when they are young, they will be more likely to talk to us as they get older.  We want to be there for our children, to help them problem solve.  We can only do that if they are willing to talk to us.  By being good listeners, we are building the connection and relationship that can last a lifetime with our children.

What we focus on grows.

By Carol Dores

Do you see a half-filled cup as half empty or half full?  Do you tend to focus on the negative or the positive?

We know that what we focus on expands and grows.

So in Positive Discipline, we try to focus on the positives and strengths.  That does not mean that there are not challenging times.  It does mean that we try to use tools and strategies to learn from the challenges.

What does this mean in terms of how we are with our children?

Instead of….Telling a child what they are doing wrong

Try…Telling them what they are doing right


Instead of…Telling a child what they are doing wrong

Try….Telling them what they are doing right


Instead of….Looking at mistakes as a problem

Try…Talking about what we can learn from them


Instead of…Talking about how hard a subject is

Try….Talking about how the child can use what they are good at to help them in challenging areas


Instead of….Dreading Mondays

Try…Talking about what is good about a new week starting


Instead of…Being critical of how a child made their bed

Try…Appreciating their effort in making the bed


Instead of…Thinking negative thoughts

Try…Thinking about what you are grateful for


For some of us who were raised by critical parents, this can be a huge shift in how we were raised.  It may take a lot of thought and effort to look for the good rather than be critical.  It is well worth the effort.  You can also explain to your children that you are going to try to be more positive, and ask them to do the same.  It can really help your home feel like a happier, more inviting place!

Doing things with our children, not to or for them.

Doing things with our children, not to or for them.

By Carol Dores

One of the key Positive Discipline strategies is doing things with our children, not to them, or for them.  Here are some examples of what each of these looks like, and what the likely result.

When we do things to our children…

  • We may make them feel guilty or embarrassed or ashamed.
  • We may use punishments or rewards to get them to do what we want.
  • We tell them what to do.

They may become compliant, and feel badly about themselves.  They may become sneaky and try harder not to get caught.  They may become manipulative, to try to get bigger rewards.  They may stop listening.  They may become pleasers, looking to do what pleases us, then their friends and others as they grow older.

When we do things for our children…

  • We think we are showing our love by doing lots of things for them.
  • We often feel overwhelmed, or may feel like a martyr.
  • We rescue them so they don’t feel badly or hurt by things.

They may feel they are incapable, and become unsure of themselves.  They may have low self-esteem.  They may not be resilient, and life’s challenges may seem overwhelming to them.  They may become dependent on others to take care of them, and may not be able to take care of themselves.

When we do things with our children…

  • We take time for training, showing them how to do things.
  • We involve them in discussions and decisions, and truly listen.
  • We trust that they will make mistakes and we help them learn from them.

They are more likely to grow up to be responsible, self-reliant and independent.  They build resiliency, and are able to deal with life’s challenges.  They become problem solvers.  They will feel respect for you and for themselves. They feel listened to and valued, and are more likely to come to us to talk about their problems.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”