Village School

Parenting Toolbox

One of Village's newest Parent Ed Trainers reflects on how positive discipline has impacted her family and her desire to 'pay it forward'.

Paying It Forward

Two years ago, my husband and I both enrolled in the PD at Home class when our oldest got into Village school. The class was held over the summer prior to the first day of school. We had two wonderful veteran teachers, Amy Dalziel and Ehsaneh Sadr, who have graduated from Village. Both my husband and I were not raised in positive discipline ways, we’ve experienced some forms of corporal punishment as a child, and yelling and or manipulations by our parents. All of the PD ideas presented were new and strange in a lot of ways. However, we’ve embraced it, did all the weekly assignments assigned to us together and had lots of interesting discussions at home.

Fast forward to three months into the same school year, we were struggling with our youngest who was 3 at the time, with temper tantrums, a lot of crying and screaming. One day on a weekend, I had an altercation with my youngest and it overboiled. My lid was flipped. I will leave most of the details unwritten, but there was a lot of yelling on my part and a lot of crying by both of us. It ended with me slamming my bedroom door, locking myself in my room for the next hour crying my eyes out because I was angry, and because I was ashamed of myself.

Over the next few days my feelings were raw and I would find myself crying in the middle of the day. My husband Matt and I would talk about it, and we decided we needed help as parents. We didn’t know what we were doing, we were doing something wrong with our kids and need help. So not knowing who to talk to, we reached out to our wonderful PD trainers Amy and Ehsaneh through email. We told them we were struggling with our daughter and asked if they could refer us to a therapist or counselor.

What happened next is unbelievable, heart-felt, and truly reminds me of the principles of Village school. Amy asked us to open up and tell them about our struggles and offered to have a phone brainstorming session to help us come up with solutions. We were floored. We had completely expected to get a name and number of some therapist, but to be offered help on the spot. Whoa!

There is an exercise called “Parents Helping Parents” in the Positive Discipline at Home class where parents role play a scenario they are struggling with. Some parents play the adults; others play the child. The idea is to role play what isn’t working, then the group comes up with solutions together, and then role play again with a new technique that the struggling parent wants to try. In the brainstorming session with Amy, I felt as if we were back in her class again doing this exercise. We didn’t quite role play on the phone, but we were asked a lot of questions about the struggling scenarios and she offered some insights. She reminded me that the misbehavior is her way to communicate with me. My child isn’t able to express in words what she needs, so she uses her body, and her actions to tell me. We got a lot out of the session, and came away feeling not as lost and that there are new things to try. There is hope.

Because of positive discipline, I now know that struggles with kids are okay, and that learning positive discipline is a lifelong journey. When Matt and I were asked to join the PD team this year, my immediate answer was yes, because I want to pay it forward. What Amy and Ehsaneh did for us a couple years ago left a lasting impression in our hearts. I am not the perfect parent who knows what she is doing and has answers to every problem. I want to be a student of positive discipline, to unlearn how I was parented and try new things. In January, I am so honored to be co-teaching the PD at Home class with Amy. My journey with PD began with Amy, and I hope to take on the torch and pay it forward. I also hope that many of the Village parents will take advantage of the PD classes offered for free. They can change your family’s life.