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From Our Little Roses

A group of Honduran girls smiling for a group photo

What is Positive Discipline?

Our upbringing and relationships with the ones close to us profoundly shape how we perceive the world as we get older. This is also true when it comes to how we are disciplined as children.

The girls of Our Little Roses come from a variety of backgrounds. Some of them have experienced trauma in prior interactions with adults. The history of adverse childhood experiences that these girls bring with them not only affects new relationships with other girls and caregivers but their educational experiences as well. 

According to the website ACESaware.org, “Several decades of scientific research have identified the biological mechanisms by which early adversity leads to increased risk of negative health and social outcomes through the life course.

Last year one of our new team members, Kirsten Matsumoto, began introducing fellow OLR staff to a program known as Positive Discipline. It centers around finding solutions to problems that arise, rather than meeting every issue with a stern punishment. 

Thanks to Kirsten’s guidance, the Positive Discipline Program at Our Little Roses has improved the social interactions and emotional well-being of the girls at OLR beyond measure. But, what exactly is Positive Discipline? And how is the introduction of this program so beneficial? Keep reading to find out more.

What is Positive Discipline?

Positive Discipline is a way of relating that works to model and instruct children in developing their own tools to handle situations. Essentially, Positive Discipline looks at the behavior of children as a reaction to an event, rather than viewing the children as being problematic themselves. 

The notion that behavior is an expression of a child’s need for belonging and connection underscores the need for patience and love on the part of the adult. Instead of condemning children and judging them based on their behavior, using the Positive Discipline model allows adults to focus on how to work with a child to build self-confidence and independence so that the child will have the skills to handle any situation in the future. 

There are ways to address behavior in a kind yet firm way, which Positive Discipline also seeks to prioritize. Instead of being forceful and reactionary, people who raise children with Positive Discipline tools understand the importance of being calm in the process of disciplining children. In this way, children can learn problem-solving skills in an environment of love and support. 

The Psychology Behind Positive Discipline

Kirsten with the Tías of OLR who earned certificates of completion for the Positive Discipline training course

Together with the pre-existing information collected by Rudolf Dreikurs and Alfred Adler, a psychologist named Jane Nelsen created the Positive Discipline model. This form of discipline encourages stronger self-awareness and responsibility. A few of the key principles are outlined below:

  • Mutual respect
  • Understanding the belief behind the behavior
  • A feeling of belonging
  • Kind yet firm boundaries
  • Learning lifelong skills

At Our Little Roses, we utilize these research-based criteria to work with our girls. One of the initial examples of how the teachers and Tías at Our Little Roses integrate Positive Discipline tools is by saying consequence instead of punishment.

Instead of feeling afraid of getting in trouble, the girls learn that everything they do yields a consequence, whether it’s positive or negative. This enables them to develop skills that allow them to emotionally regulate themselves, which spikes their self-confidence and decision-making skills. When we practice making mistakes and learning from them, we are better prepared for future situations. Children learn that the power to change their behavior is in their hands, which makes them feel important.

This feeling of importance increases the child’s self-esteem as well, and they become more equipped at managing the way they feel. Instead of lashing out because they don’t understand their emotions, children who are met with Positive Discipline understand themselves better.

How is Positive Discipline Reinforced? 

Two young girls smiling at a playground

Positive Discipline instills a sense of trust between children and adults. Trust creates respect, which further improves the dynamic between children and adults. There is a time and a place for everything, including Positive Discipline. Just as you wouldn’t lecture a child who isn’t yours, you wouldn’t apply the Positive Discipline model to just any child you come across. There always needs to be an established relationship between the child and the adult who is applying Positive Discipline to a situation.

At Our Little Roses, Kirsten works with our Tías and the girls in our REST program as well as the HFBS staff in regular training sessions, follow-up meetings, observations, and one-on-one support. Although it is difficult to quantify the changes in behavior, the qualitative experiences of the girls and staff are overwhelmingly positive.

How You Can Make a Meaningful Impact on the Girls of Our Little Roses

At Our Little Roses, we seek to provide our girls with the tools, encouragement, and care for the best possible future. Due to the selfless and generous donations from our sponsors, the girls at Our Little Roses are able to earn an education that sets them up for success in years to come.

By being a sponsor, you become a part of a community that transforms the lives of young girls and allows them to become independent, confident, and successful adults. If you are interested in committing to a regular donation to Our Little Roses, become a sponsor today and help change a girl’s life!