The Huber household experienced a lot of change in 2012. For Frances, that included starting preschool. We were all anxious about where she'd go, what her teachers would be like, how she'd handle such a transition from the only life she'd ever known of being home everyday with me. Since her first day back in September, we could not be more satisfied with the school she's at, the teachers she has and the overall experience thus far. She is always excited to go to school and see her teachers and friends and it is evident that she feels just as safe and secure there as she does at home, which is what matters most to me. I am above all impressed with the preschool's director, Janis, who has been in her position for more than twenty years. She runs the school (via the curriculum and the facilitation of the teachers) with a child-centered approach. The school-wide discipline policy is really not to discipline, but is more about warm guidance and loving redirection. The director's goal is to make the children feel comfortable and confident in their environment to explore and take risks and make mistakes without fear of being ridiculed or scolded, and this philosophy undeniably works.

One of my greatest challenges as a parent has been to instill values such as empathy, compassion, self-control and accountability in the most loving and patient capacity possible. The question often in my mind is HOW?? Below is February's edition of the newsletter we receive each month from Janis. It refers to the challenge I speak of (above) and it's the perfect example of why we are so happy with this school.


Being a parent is one of life’s greatest blessings and one of life’s greatest challenges. The journey of parenthood transforms you when you experience the miraculous joy of cradling your infant, of celebrating the benchmarks of learning to walk and talk, of witnessing your child make friends, riding a bike, reading words from a book for the first time, of watching your ballerina dance in her first recital, and cheering when your star athlete” runs the bases.

Parenting makes great demands on you every day. It begins with sleepless nights and feeding schedules, moves into the realm of toddler antics, potty training, and temper tantrums, preschool years’ behavior issues, social skills, and school readiness. After the preschool years, you experience challenges with homework, school achievement, the ups and downs of friendships, and extracurricular activities…..and then the teenage years are upon you!

While parenting is all of these experiences and so many more, it is mostly about trust, relationship building, communication, respect, and security. It is the role of parents to love unconditionally, instill values, respect and accept their child as a unique individual, provide a safe, secure environment, build trust, and instill confidence.

Parenting is a daunting task, and how a parent responds to a child in different situations will determine how a child learns to approach life. Ask any parent what is most difficult about raising children and the answer will be behavior and discipline. Every day young children are learning how to function in this world and making many mistakes along the way. Obviously, children are not born with an innate ability to manage their lives. When children do not act appropriately, adults often want immediate resolution to the problem. This adult need for control and resolution often leads to punishment because punishment can bring immediate results. But does punishment: help children build self-control? teach them how to cope with strong feelings and tough problems? help them feel successful and in control of themselves? teach them to take responsibility for their actions?

There is a real difference between discipline and punishment, and that difference can play a big part in the kind of person each child becomes. Many “discipline methods actually fall under the heading of punishment: time-out, withdrawal of privileges, lectures, scolding, threats or warnings, shaming, guilt, name-calling (“bad boy), spanking or hand slapping. Other “discipline methods fall under the heading of rewards: money, food (candy, ice cream), stars, stickers, toys, and special privileges.

Unfortunately, these methods may not be effective in the long-term, which should be every parent’s goal. Punishment will stop a behavior for the moment, and rewards will motivate good behavior for a short time. They also give adults a sense of power and control and temporarily alleviate a parent’s sense of frustration. But, it makes the adult responsible for controlling the behavior instead of the child. The goal of discipline is to help children develop their own self-control. Effective discipline is positive, fair and respectful, firm and consistent. It teaches valuable life skills and helps children learn to solve problems and make good choices. It helps children see how their actions affect others. It helps children feel safe and secure when they need to regain control. Kindness in discipline shows respect for the child, while firmness shows respect for the adult and for the needs of the situation. Being able to implement positive discipline with your child sometimes requires more time, effort, thought, and creativity, but thepay-off” is worth it in the end.

It requires the parent to look for and understand reasons for a childs behavior. Is my child hungry, tired, over-stimulated, bored or rushed? Does my child need more space or time for a particular activity? Has he had to
wait too long?
It requires the parent to be knowledgeable about age-appropriate expectations  - what can reasonably be expected of my child at this age?
It requires the parent to develop the art of distraction which is all it often takes to turn a situation around. Rather than creating a confrontational situation where the parent demands instant obedience, distraction allows for
alternative choices.
It requires the parent to be patient, understanding, sympathetic, and most of all respectful of the child’s needs at that moment.
It allows the parent to turn a “volatile moment into a “teachable moment, and what a valuable gift that is for a child!
It saves face” for the child and preserves the child’s dignity and sense of self-worth. It also saves the parent from feeling guilt-ridden as often occurs after punishment.
It allows children to learn about natural consequences of their behavior.

Discipline techniques of past generations have gone from being too harsh and punitive to being too permissive. Today’s research and studies show that positive discipline guided by the principles of firm consistency and respect for the child will enable a child to feel safe and secure and learn the valuable life skills needed. The children at our Weekday School are very blessed to have parents who are loving and knowledgeable about young children. We recognize the great job you are doing as parents and encourage you to continue learning all you can to be better parents. In the long run, children learn what they live.

I found this message to be profoundly relevant and resonating.

Janis also included a list of recommended reading: The Gessell Institute series of books, the Touchpoints series, the Positive Discipline series, Siblings Without Rivalry and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.

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