What’s all the buzz about Self Regulation?

It all began with a marshmallow.  Yes, a marshmallow.

In the following video, hear Dr. Stuart Shanker explain the crucial role self-regulation plays in a child’s present and future success and how a marshmallow was involved in the discovery of this important information!

Dr. Shanker will be speaking on the subject of self-regulation at the Positive Discipline Conference in Calgary on October 26!  He will be providing information on why it’s such an important skill for kids to develop.

He will also be sharing information on how to set up environments so that children can reach optimum self-regulation.

This is “need to know” information for parents, teachers, childcare providers & anyone working with children!

Dr. Jane Nelsen, author of  Positive Discipline  will be a featured speaker as well.

For more info on the conference visit:

Posted in Child Behavior, Courses offered, General, Positive Discipline, Social Emotional Development | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Positive Discipline Conference, Calgary, AB. Oct. 25 & 26, 2013

Exciting Opportunity for Parents, Teachers, Caregivers or anyone working with Children! 

The Positive Discipline Conference which is taking place October 25 & 26 in Calgary, promises to provide a unique learning opportunity for parents, teachers, caregivers and anyone working with children.

Those who attend this event will receive information that, if applied, can influence how successful their children or the children they work with will be, not only academically but socially and emotionally as well.

 Read on to learn more!

There is an impressive body of research that shows that when children develop the essential skills that will be shared by the Keynote speakers and other presenters at this conference, they are more successful in life.

Information shared at the conference, will particularly focus on how to support children in the development self-regulatory skills as well as discipline methods that help children develop self-regulation and other social emotional skills.

Because research consistently shows that the ability to self-regulate and the degree of social emotional intelligence that one possesses is a better predictor of academic performance than IQ!

The development of these skills and attributes have implications for how well a child will do in relationships and of course have major implications with regards to a child’s behavior as well!

Learn from these two outstanding experts! Dr. Stuart Shanker

Dr. Stuart Shanker is a world renowned expert on self-regulation and will be providing invaluable information on how to help children
develop this crucial skill!

Jane Nelsen

Dr. Jane Nelsen, creator of the Positive Discipline Program and co-creator of the Developing Capable Young People Program will be sharing seven significant skills that children need to develop in order to be successful and will also be sharing her wisdom and knowledge regarding Positive Discipline (which supports the development of self-regulation & social emotional skills).

Both Dr. Nelsen & Dr. Shanker will be delivering keynotes and facilitating workshops.

Attending this conference is an outstanding opportunity!

There is a great line up of breakout sessions in addition to the guest speakers. Workshops for parents, teachers, caregivers and anyone working with children (including children with special needs) are being offered by the Dr. Nelsen and Dr. Shanker as well as other skilled and knowledgeable presenters!

It is an event that you don’t want to miss!

For more information please visit www.positivediscipline.ca and click on the conference link.

Posted in Child Behavior, Courses offered, General, Positive Discipline, Social Emotional Development | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Talking to Children in Ways that Invite Cooperation

We’ve always heard that how we say something is more important than what we say.  Now we know why.  It’s because of mirror neurons.

Mirror neurons allow us to tune in to the movements and feelings of others and are often referred to as “monkey see, monkey do” neurons.  They read someone else’s intention as if we were experiencing it ourselves.

Think about when you see a person pour themselves a glass of water.  We assume that their intent is to drink it and we often begin to desire a glass of water ourselves.

Or apply it to emotions.  If someone is angry with us, our initial response will often be anger in return or if someone is smiling at us, our natural response is to smile back.

Mirror neurons provide another reason (in addition to the need to always show respect for children) why it’s so important to talk to children in calm and non threatening ways. When we command something in anger, we invite defiance and anger from the child. 

But when we request something in a pleasant way, we invite a more cooperative response.

Apply this information to the two previous blog posts (June 27 & 29, 2013) that talk about communicating in ways that empower children – i.e. through choices (with “you decide”) and asking “empowerment questions.

How we say the two magical words “you decide” or ask a question will make all the difference.  If we use a sarcastic, impatient or angry tone – that is quite likely what we will get in return.

              Mirror Neurons in Action.  A picture is worth a thousand words.

Mother and Babyfather son conflict


Posted in Child Behavior, General, Relationship | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ask Questions – Step 7 in “Encouraging Kids to More Cooperative Behavior”

Ask a question to invite children to listen.

Getting Kids to Listen  Can be as Simple as Asking a Question!

My last post was with regards to the need to develop children’s inner locus of control and the fact that children who develop a strong inner locus of control are also more successful academically and in other areas of life.

One of the benefits of passing the locus of control to the child is that we often win more cooperation from them.

In addition to choices, asking children questions is another tool which can turn the locus of control over to the child while providing the structure and outcome required.

So often we give children command after command.   “Get your jacket on!” “Brush your teeth!”  “Put your dishes in the dishwasher!”  Image how many commands a child hears in a day! Usually this creates a lot of resistance in children and they are apt to tune out.  (Wouldn’t you?)

But when we rephrase the request in the form of a particular type of question, we invite a totally different response.

In Positive Discipline they are called “curiosity questions” and I like to call them “empowerment questions” as well because they empower kids to think.

For example, as alternates to two of the commands above – i.e. if instead of “Get your jacket on!”  – we ask “What do you need to do so you’ll be warm outside?” or instead of “Brush your teeth!” we ask “What do you need to do so that your teeth are bright and shiny?” – the child is much more liable to respond in a cooperative manner.

As in the case of when we follow a choice with “you decide” (see last blog post), by asking this type of question, we invite the child to think and by doing so turn the locus of control over to them.

When we give a command, we hold the power When we ask a curiosity question or empowerment question we turn the power over to the child.  Note the expected outcome is the same, but the means by how it is reached is much more respectful.

The two different looks that often come to a child’s face when they are given a command vs. a choice applies with curiosity questions too.  Watch for it!

Curiosity Qs

Next Post:
The brain science behind “how we say something is more important than what we say”.

Posted in Child Behavior, General | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Helping Children Develop a Strong Locus of Control (Encouraging Children to More Positive Behaviour – Step 6)

Between the ages of 1 and 3, children start their journey towards independence and personal power.  This is a normal and healthy stage in their development.

While children require a great deal of guidance, it’s important to respect and support this increasing need for independence and personal power.  When children are supported in these areas they become more confident and secure in their ability to cope and survive in the world.  Another way to say this is they develop a feeling of “being capable”.

This sense of personal power and feeling capable is directly tied to whether or not a child develops a strong inner locus of control or outer locus of control.  Research points to the fact that children who have a stronger inner locus of control do better academically and in the more long term, research shows that people who have a strong inner locus of control live more successful and happy lives.   

But what is meant by locus of control?  

Simply put, if a person has a strong inner locus of control they believe that they have the power to make choices and control the outcomes of their life – their own success or failure.  A person with a strong outer locus of control believes that external forces (people, circumstances) have power over their life. 

When we try to control children, we contribute to them developing an outer locus of control.  Of course, we need to provide children with structure and guidance.  But within that structure and those guidelines we can still leave space for the development of an inner locus of control.

The following is one way that we can do exactly that — provide guidance and structure while contributing to the development of a child’s inner locus of control AND invite cooperation from the child because it gives them some personal power.

The magic tool?  Give children limited choices. 

Now – before you say – “oh, I’ve given my children choices and it doesn’t work” or “My child just says – I don’t want to do either – or comes up with something that is totally unacceptable” – hear me out!  You need to add two key words to the choice.  “You decide.”

Give the child two choices (you can live with) and then add “You decide”.  This turns the locus of control over to the child.

For example – your child doesn’t want to brush their teeth.  Give the child the choice of “Would you rather brush your teeth before you put your pyjamas on or after you put your pyjamas on? You decide.” The expectations (structure) have been set – but the child has some personal power and choice in the matter.  The locus of control has been handed from you to him/her.

Key here is how you say it.  You’ll get back what you give.  If you say it in truly an empowering way, it will invite cooperation.  If you say it in a snarky way it will invite defiance.  (This is because of mirror neurons in our brain.  We’ll talk about that in a later post.)

The pictures here depict the different responses that a child will have based on whether they are responding to a “command” or whether they are “being handed the locus of control – in this case choice”.  You decide

In my next post, I’ll give you another tool that involves turning the locus of control over to the child and in turn invites cooperation.

Posted in Child Behavior, General | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment