Noosa teacher Mark Powell is spreading the world on positive discipline.
Noosa teacher Mark Powell is spreading the world on positive discipline.

Kids v parents: There is a more positive way

Taking the power plays out of the family dynamic in this days of sticking closer to home during the pandemic has never been more challenging.

But the father of a ‘tweenager’ and Montessori Noosa teacher with 26 years experience, Mark Powell is offering struggling mums and dads a way out of high-powered family conflicts.

Also read: What parents need to know about COVID-19 family law

On July 31 he will be running another of his six-week positive discipline courses starting at Montessori in Sunshine Beach.

Mr Powell said positive discipline “offers new ways to get co-operation from children without power over them”.

He said the ain is to “elicit co-operation from children in positive ways, rather than the kind of discipline our parents and grandparents used over us”.

“There are about 52 tools or strategies and one of my favourites is the family meetings,” Mr Powell said.

“One of the catch phrases is a misbehaving child is a discouraged child. The idea is, if we come from the old school of a discipline model we’re thinking that misbehaving children are being naughty.”

Raising children without having to stand over them.
Raising children without having to stand over them.

He said often this bad behaviour was “trying to get the better of us”.

“This (positive discipline) sees the misbehaving child as wanting connection, but the connection is broken,” Mr Powell said.

“All of the strategies work towards re-establishing connection between the child and the adult in some ways … it does not excuse the behaviour.

“It’s not like permissive models where you go ‘oh, poor thing you must be sad or something’.

“It’s definitely confronting the behaviour but it’s confronting it in a way that’s positive and re-establishing connections.”

Mr Powell said with weekly family meets, if a child or adult was upset in the home, there was an agenda on the family fridge where they wrote their problem down.

“So rather than get into an argument, the parent will say just put it on the agenda and when the family meeting time comes around they discuss it,” he said.

“There’s a formula for doing the family meeting, you start with appreciations and then you discuss the problems.

“Everyone puts in solutions, you debate the solutions and then you choose one … then everyone has a family treat together after that.

This different way of approaching family conflicts is being taught in Noosa.
This different way of approaching family conflicts is being taught in Noosa.

“The idea is you come up with a brainstormed possible solution and when kids contribute to the solution they’re more likely to own it.”

Mr Powell said this did not mean adults had to negotiate every issue.

“Is there may be some things the adult says ‘sorry, that’s my prerogative as the parent’,” he said.

“Another example is instead of telling the child to do something you ask questions – ‘what could you have done instead of, well that was a really dumb thing to do wasn’t it’.

“In the years I’ve been teaching positive discipline every parent who does it says to me ‘this should be compulsory’.”

He said the challenge was implementing the strategies “because old habits die hard”.

“When we get stressed adults tend to go back to the way that we’re used which is ‘you’re going to do this now because I say so’,” he said.

“It’s not that I’m a perfect parent, because I forget too and every time I teach this course I get reminders of myself.

“It’s really transformed my relationship with my own daughter who’s 11 now.

“I learn from listening to other people as well.”

For more visit www.positivediscipline.com and for bookings go to mark.p@mn.qld.edu.au.


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