By any measure, Dr. Jane Nelsen has lived an admirable and productive life. She has raised seven children, counts more than 20 grandchildren, holds numerous degrees, and is a licensed marriage, family and child Counselor in Utah and California. Add to that the 16 books she has authored and co-authored for the Positive Discipline Series and the thousands of people she has helped become better parents, and no one would begrudge her slowing down or even retiring.
And yet, at age 76, Dr. Nelsen shows no sign of sitting back and taking it easy, which is fortunate for those of us living in Beijing. Dr. Nelsen is currently on tour in China (Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen) to promote Positive Discipline’s potential to transform the lives of families for the better. I had a chance to sit in on an interview with Dr. Nelsen and the editor of jingkids (a sister publication of beijingkids) to learn about her fascinating journey with Positive Discipline.
When people approach Dr. Nelsen with a parenting conundrum, she can quickly break it down in terms of the root problem to get a positive outcome for all – but it wasn’t always this way. Dr. Nelsen studied Positive Discipline because she wanted to be a better parent to her own children (who at the time numbered just three).
Like so many before her, Dr. Nelsen used reward and punishment because it was what she knew. Even after she started studying Positive Discipline, she resisted the notion of not having to use any form of punishment with her kids. Yet, as she began to practice the methods and see its results, she not only became an active user of Positive Discipline, but became its greatest champion. The results in her own family speak for themselves; Mary Tamborski, one of Jane’s daughters, is herself a marriage and family therapist and a proponent of Positive Discipline.
According to Dr. Nelsen, Positive Discipline distilled to its core is based on treating children with dignity and respect by being both kind and firm, and “establishing a connection before making a correction.” This way, children are empowered to feel like they can contribute. It sounds easy enough, but anyone who has spent time with a 4-year-old or a teenager knows that it can feel like a monumental challenge. We are never perfect as parents and Positive Discipline is a process that is focused on long-term results, says Dr. Nelsen.
Although this is her first trip to China, at least one of Dr. Nelsen’s books has been translated into Chinese. As a result, Positive Discipline has become a hot topic among local families and discussion groups.
If you would like to see Dr. Jane Nelsen in Beijing, she will be speaking at the Western Academy of Beijing (WAB) as part of their Distinguished Speakers Series tomorrow (Wednesday, May 22). The reception is at 6pm and the presentation is from 6.30-8.30pm in the Founders’ Theatre. You can register for free at www.wab.edu.
To learn more about Positive Discipline, join local workshops, read online training materials, or listen to free podcasts, visit www.positivediscipline.com. Jane also recommends her daughter’s website for more great parenting content.
Photo by Christopher Lay