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Parenting with purpose

New classes are offered through West Linn Parks and Recreation


by: VERN UYETAKE  - Parenting instructor April Holt-Geiger leads the discussion as co-instructor India de Kanter looks on.April Holt-Geiger and India de Kanter were typical mothers. They worried. They read parenting books. They took parenting classes and, to the best of their abilities, they put all that they had learned to good use. It wasn’t working.

“I took a lot of classes and read a lot of books,” said de Kanter, a mother of two. “The theory was great but I didn’t know how to apply it at home and I didn't like doing it at home. ... The timeouts, yelling, threatening, bribing and rewards were not working.”by:  VERN UYETAKE  - Jim Caveney tries to open Tara Browns fist in an illustration about control and resistance behavior.

Holt-Geiger, a fellow parent with de Kanter at SunGarden Montessori in West Linn, shared a similar story.

“I didn’t want to parent with an authoritarian top-down model of parenting,” said Holt-Geiger, a mother of two. “It wasn’t working and just repeating the same kind of parenting style wasn’t getting me anywhere. I wasn’t happy and my kids weren’t happy.”

Then the mothers came across a Positive Discipline parenting class — an international program created by Dr. Jane Nelsen based on the work of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs. The parenting model is designed to teach young people to become responsible, respectful and resourceful members of their communities.

The classes were transformative for both Holt-Geiger and de Kanter’s families. In 2011, both women became certified by the Positive Discipline Association to teach parenting classes to families, churches, schools and other organizations. This year, for the first time, the duo are bringing their classes to West Linn through West Linn Parks and Recreation. by: VERN UYETAKE  - Parenting instructor April Holt-Geiger leads the class discussion.

"After several courses and workshops, and after reading and studying about Positive Discipline, I was able to make a little paradigm shift inside my brain and change the way I thought about authority and children,” Holt-Geiger said.

“Our society is changing. There is more equality in the world and children see that and they want that,” de Kanter added.

The parenting model is based on early 1900s childhood psychology and development research by Adler and Rudolf. The research was reintroduced by Nelsen in the 1980s.

Positive Discipline focuses on five criterias: to help children feel a sense of connection, to create an environment that is mutually respectful and encouraging, to create effective long-term results, to teach important social and life skills and to invite children to discover how capable they are.

“The thing about Positive Discipline that’s really fascinating is that it’s based on mutual dignity and respect for both the parents and children,” Holt-Geiger said. “It’s a long-term approach to parenting that employs kindness and firmness at the same time. ... The key is to consider what the child is thinking, feeling and deciding about themselves and how they fit into the world.”

The duo’s parenting workshops are targeted toward parents, grandparents and caregivers of children grades third through 12th. The classes are tailored toward a multitude of problems such as: struggling to get your children out the door in the morning, listening issues, sibling rivalry and more. Each class may stand alone, but courses complement one another.

The workshops are for adults only, yet are interactive and experimental. Each night, participants are given handouts and scripts to practice the tools, skills and language they learned in class at home.by: VERN UYETAKE  - Parenting instructors April Holt-Geiger, right, and India de Kanter demonstrate how to change perpective when there is a line to be crossed.

For example, instead of saying, “If you don’t put your pajamas on then you can’t read a book,” parents are encouraged to say, “As soon as you put on your pajamas we can read a story.” Even seemingly small changes, Holt-Geiger and de Kanter said, work.

“I’m no longer parenting out of fear or the worry that I’m going to make a mistake or what my kids are going to do or what other people are going to think,” Holt-Geiger said. “Positive Discipline is parenting with confidence and intention and it's very purposeful.”

“I enjoy parenting more,” de Kanter said. “I’m more focused on creating capable kids instead of being in charge of everything.”

But changes won’t occur overnight. Rather, they refer to Positive Discipline as a process and a “continuum of change.”

“Sometimes it’s two steps forward and two steps back,” de Kanter said, noting some families notice changes within two weeks.

Results, they said, are depended on parents' willingness to change.

“We can’t just turn the switch off in your brain,” Holt-Geiger said. “That’s up to you through practice. Parenting doesn’t come with an instructional manual. To become a skilled parent you have to learn how to do it."

“This is the closest thing I’ve found to a manual,” de Kanter said, laughing.

For more information about Positive Discipline, visit positivediscipline.com.

Parenting class

Feb. 6

Discipline: What have you tried? Gaining cooperation without punishment or rewards

Discuss the negative, short-term effects of punishment and rewards and then focus on strategies that work in the moment while encouraging and empowering children in the long term. $30 to $35; 6:45 to 9 p.m. Trillium Creek Primary School.

Feb. 20

Morning Madness, Chore and Homework Hassles, Bedtime Battles

Learn how to develop effective routines and agreements that encourage kids to take responsessibility for themselves. Help children become capable young people without nagging, bribes or lectures.

$30 to $35; 6:45 to 9 p.m. Trillium Creek Primary School.

March 6

Lemons into Lemonade

No more lectures, blaming or punishment. Instead, partner with children to build connection, closeness and enhance family values through fun family meetings where solutions are reached in a democratic model. Learn how to significantly reduce misbehavior by addressing the hidden needs of your child.

$30 to $35; 6:45 to 9 p.m. Trillium Creek Primary School.

March 20

Anger and the Brain: Using it, Not Losing it

Learn to manage your anger so you have control over it, instead of it having control over you. Act, rather than react. Discover how to deal with children’s anger in ways that help children accept their feelings as legitimate. Explore techniques to help kids express their anger without shame, blame or punishment.

$30 to $35; 6:45 to 9 p.m. Trillium Creek Primary School.

Classes are offered through West Linn Parks and Recreation. For more information or to register for a class, call 503-557-4700 or visit westlinnoregon.gov

A seven-week parenting course will also be offered beginning in April. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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