What is positive parenting

I am many things in this world (wife, mother, Working Mom Support Coach, employee, short order cook, solver of all toddler related problems) but I am NOT a parenting coach! I pride myself that I am a ninja at helping moms go back to work after maternity leave, manage their time to successfully run a household and have a fulfilling work life.  But I defer to the experts when it comes to child behavior and what the HECK to do with it! So I’m so thrilled to introduce you to an expert on Positive Parenting, Debbie Zeichner, lCSW! I know her personally and have benefited so much from her compassionate approach that WORKS! Enjoy this guest post from Debbie!
Positive Parenting ThriveMomma Debbie Zeichner

How did you become a parent coach  and educator and why is it your passion?

I knew from a very young age that helping others would be my calling – I was always told that I had a “gift” for listening in a way that allowed others to feel heard, understood and supported.  After finishing high school, I went on to receive a bachelor’s degree with a major in Psychology and a minor in Family Studies.  From there, I went on to pursue graduate studies in Social Work and received my Master’s Degree.  The favorite part of my training was working with parents and families.  I recall doing an internship at Rady’s Children’s Hospital’s Outpatient Department and realizing, early on, that the most effective way to positively change a child’s future was by helping and supporting the parents.  My dream was to have my own private psychotherapy practice, which I built and maintained for many years.  

After having our first child, I felt completely overwhelmed. Although I had led tons of parenting groups and classes, having my own child threw me for a very big loop! I felt anxious and had way more questions than answers. Fortunately, my husband and I were introduced to two amazing parenting courses, Redirecting Children’s Behavior and Positive Discipline, which completely changed our lives!  These classes had a more contemporary view of parenting, backed by neuroscience and they really resonated with me.  I was so enthused and passionate about what I was learning and we saw such a positive shift in our kids as well as in our own confidence, that I became certified to teach both of these courses.  Now, I have the absolute pleasure of both teaching and working to support parents individually in my coaching practice.


What is your philosophy on parenting?

My philosophy of parenting is based on Positive Discipline, which is a positive parenting model rooted in Adlerian Psychology.  This model highlights the notion that all behavior is a communication and that a misbehaving child is a discouraged child.  Recent research tells us that we all have hardwired needs for belonging (connection) and significance (that we matter/are of value) as well as the need for attention and a sense of power/control over our world.  When one or more of these core, emotional needs are not being met, we are likely to see misbehavior in the form of tantrums, defiance, back talk, aggression etc.  It’s so natural for parents to focus solely on the behavior itself (we just want it to stop!), yet, when we focus only on the behavior and not on what’s causing the behavior in the first place, we miss out on the opportunity to effectively guide our children in learning valuable social and emotional life skills.

Positive Discipline is a non-punitive method, emphasizing mutual respect, which honors the notion that children don’t need to suffer (be punished) in order to learn.  Limits are set with both kindness and firmness at the same time. At the core of the approach is the importance of building and maintaining the connection between parents and their children – children who feel connected to their parents, have much less need to misbehave!  I feel so fortunate to be able to offer these practical, effective and wonderful tools to parents and their families!

What are some of the biggest challenges you hear from parents and what do you recommend?

Parents face all sorts of challenges these days…everything from tantrums to back talk to homework battles and everything in between!  So often, kids act out or misbehave because they are either feeling disconnected, have mistaken beliefs about how to get their needs met and/or have some big emotions they are not able to understand and process on their own. Parents have a wonderful opportunity to teach their kids valuable skills every time a challenge appears. Understanding how the brain functions and why their kids act as they do can be very helpful in approaching behavior.

The most important tool for parents to know about is that of “connection before correction.”  When emotions are running high (either ours or our child’s), we can not think logically, rationally or clearly.  When our kids are having a hard time, it’s important to know that yelling, nagging and lecturing won’t solve the problem. It feels like the answer in the moment, but in reality, our kids only tune us out when we lash out.  In order to effectively handle those most challenging parenting moments, it’s important that parents first focus on centering themselves.  Our kids learn how to regulate their emotions by how we regulate ours, so we want to model what rational behavior looks like, first and foremost. This involves self-care – taking deep breaths, walking away and responding, rather than reacting. Parents need to model the very behavior they want to see in their kids.  Kids listen after they feel listened to.

4.) What are your favorite resources for parents?

Debbie Zeichner LCSW
My favorite books/resources are listed on my website and I regularly recommend that parents read anything by Dr. Laura Markham (ahaparenting.com), Tina Bryson and Dan Siegel as well as the Positive Discipline series by Dr. Jane Nelsen.
Check out my site debbiezeichnerlcsw.com  for my schedule of my San Diego workshops. “Parenting without Power Struggles” will take place in Encinitas on December 15th, 7-9pm.  Please check website for details and registration.
Debbie Zeichner
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  1. Ashlyn Tengan December 1, 2015 at 8:02 am

    How timely! I’m a first time mom and my hubby and I often have talks about parenting styles. I believe in positive parenting and I hope I can keep at it as my daughter grows. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Lori G. Hill-Smith December 2, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Great article! Positive parenting makes child rearing a happy and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.


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