Posts tagged “child discipline

Gentle Parenting (and thank you, Milo)

A great list for parents, but just as great for the rest of us, too!

A great list for parents, but just as great for the rest of us, too!

What a great poster from Little Hearts / Gentle Parenting Resources! It makes essential points in a very small amount of space. Some of you may have seen the poster on Facebook, but I wanted to share it with the rest of you who may not have seen it. I have done some exploring on the Little Hearts website, from whence the poster originated, and I am impressed with what is being said and how it is being said. For those of you who are parents, you can check out the website for yourself at –

The Little Hearts message is so choice theory, yet I didn’t see any evidence of a connection with Glasser or any of his material. For a second, I wondered how the site could be so choice theory, yet not have any choice theory background. Then, of course, I am reminded that effective ideas can be discovered from many angles, by many different people, in many different locations, and in many different ways. If a certain approach works better, that approach is likely to be found by those searching for a better way.

Glasser’s ideas are an example of this kind of “parallel development.” Even though he was an original thinker, not all of his ideas were original. There were other therapists that placed a high value on a positive, caring relationship with clients, for example, and there were other writers who tried to explain the fallacies of the commonly held views regarding mental illness. Each of them, Glasser included, came at their ideas from their own unique perspectives. The upcoming Glasser biography will say more about this kind of parallel development.



An aerial view of Milo Adventist Academy.

I did a Soul Shapers 1 workshop last week at Milo Adventist Academy in southern Oregon. Along with the staff from Milo there were teachers from four other schools in the Oregon Conference also in attendance. I was blessed by the experience in several ways. One of the blessings came from making new friends. Choice theory has a way of opening doors to deeper, more personal discussions, and while I didn’t know many of the staff before the week started, I feel that I made some very good friends by the time the week ended. Another blessing came in the form of their good questions. They truly wanted to understand how choice theory could be applied in their lives, personally and professionally. As a result, I have been thinking about some of those questions ever since. I hope to stay in touch with Milo over the coming school year. Maybe technology can help us with that.


The 2013/2014 school year is about to begin. (At least that is the schedule for schools located on west coast of the U.S., from where I am writing.) As a teacher your physical, emotional, and mental “clocks” are probably counting down to the first days of school. Some of you are literally in final countdown mode as you process how many hours you have left compared to the To-Do list of what you still need to accomplish. Even for veterans this can be an intense time as you try to get everything done that needs to be done.

For those wanting choice theory concepts to have a greater presence in their classrooms, just remember that “Structure is our friend.” The opposite of boss-management is not lead-management. The opposite of boss-management is laissez-faire, or the lack of structure or guidance at all. On this continuum, with over-control on one end and no control on the other end, lead-management comes somewhere in between. A lead manager very much wants elements of appropriate and helpful structure to be in place. It is especially helpful when classroom Procedures are identified, clearly described, and then rehearsed as a class. Procedures help classrooms run smoothly. It is also helpful when the classroom rules, the behaviors — e.g. – disrespect toward the teacher or classmates, bullying, dishonesty — that are never acceptable are also clearly outlined, along with a description of the natural consequences that come after breaking a rule. Too many people wrongly assume that choice theory means that kids can apparently do whatever they want. Not true at all. What is true is that lead-managers want to create need-satisfying classrooms in which discipline is not an issue. And if a rule is broken, lead-managers want to lovingly confront the behavior and help the student to make a plan for its correction.

Structure is our friend.

I would love to hear from you regarding ways in which you are keeping choice theory elements in mind for the coming school year – either as a teacher or a parent. Take a moment and share an example of how choice theory is going to affect your classroom or your home.

Influence vs Control

Your comments regarding the 7 Worst Things Good Parents Do got me to thinking. I was drawn to #7 – Expect your child to fulfill your dreams as an important one on which to comment, but now I see that each of them might be instructive under the choice theory microscope. We’ll do one at a time so that it won’t take (Tom) so long to read. Add your comments to fill in ideas that I leave out. Let’s start with #1 – Baby your child.

The 7 Worst Things Good Parents Do

1. Baby your child.

Providing support and guidance, and certainly exerting supervision and control when it comes to safety issues, is necessary and appropriate. We wouldn’t let a three year old cross a busy street on his own, even if he pulled his hand away from ours and insisted that we leave him alone. We would grab his hand right back and keep him from running into traffic. There is a difference, though, between appropriate supervision and overprotective babying.

Often the difference has more to do with our need for control than it does with the needs of our children or students. Choice theory is based on the idea that every human being is guided by an internal control mechanism. We were created with free will, an incredible attribute that God has gone to incredible lengths to preserve, and, by extension, have been given the power, and the responsibility, to make choices. God values our freedom a great deal.

With this in mind it becomes clear that children need to learn about this freedom and, as soon as possible, learn to make good choices. The teacher or parent who understands choice theory will want to wean children from their control, rather than seek to perpetuate their control. Our goal is to fit our children for healthy lives, not because we are controlling their decisions, but because they are making good choices even when supervision is not around. We want them to be self-supervisors, right? (Think of Jochabed preparing Moses to leave home at 12 years of age.)

The paradox here is noteworthy. The important thing is influence. To have influence with our students or children is what we really want. Yet the more we attempt to control children, the less influence we have with them. There are too many well-meaning parents who have literally fought to control their children, to supervise at every turn, to oversee every event, threatening and punishing all the way, only to lose the thing they want most – influence. (When I visited my mother when she was living in a retirement center, I would hear stories from her about how some of the residents’ children – the children being 50 and 60 years of age – would have nothing to do with them, would never come to visit them, still angry about how they are continuing to be treated by their, by now, aged parents. A controlling spirit can last a long time.) The important thing is to stay connected. No matter what – stay connected. Because as long as you are connected to your kids, you have influence.

2. Put your marriage last.

3. Push your child into too many activities.

4. Ignore your emotional or spiritual life.

5. Be your child’s best friend.

6. Fail to give your child structure.

7. Expect your child to fulfill your dreams.

Friel, J. and Friel, L. (1999). The 7 worst things good parents do. New York: Barnes & Noble.

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