Open Door School hosts positive discipline workshop

Positive Discipline
Positive Discipline
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On Thursday, February 2, Open Door School will host the first installment of a two-part workshop entitled “Focusing on Solutions: Positive Discipline Tools for Families.”

The workshop will take place in Freeman Hall at Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte, located at 234 N. Sharon Amity Road. The two-hour seminar will run from 6:30-8:30 pm. Part two is scheduled for March 23. The $20.00 registration fee includes participation in both workshops.

The seminar is based on the workbook “Positive Discipline” by Dr. Jane Nelson, a renowned and licensed Marriage, Family and Child Counselor. It will teach parents the principles of Positive Discipline, an approach to raising children that teaches responsibility, respect and resourcefulness. A copy of Dr. Nelson’s Positive Discipline workbook is included with the registration fee.

Melanie Greely, Montessori Lead Teacher and Facilitator at Chantilly Montessori, will lead the workshop. She is in charge of parent education at Chantilly and has conducted similar seminars for their parents and parents at nearby Montessori schools. Greely came highly recommended by the respected veteran trainer of positive discipline who previously led the workshop at Open Door School.

The Positive Discipline approach draws on research that indicates that the common approach to discipline – punishment – may be effective in the short term but has negative consequences in the long term. Positive discipline is centered around the idea of forming a mutually respectful relationship between parent and child. Instead of focusing on punishment and/or rewards as methods of dealing with misbehavior, those who practice positive discipline focus on identifying the cause behind the misbehavior. They help children learn to communicate and problem-solve effectively to come up with solutions and prefer encouragement, which notices effort and improvement, to praise, which tends to note only success. Long-term, this approach helps children develop social and life skills they need for good character: respect, concern for others, problem-solving, accountability, contribution, and cooperation.

“That sounds great!” many parents may think. “But what about consequences? Won’t it just be a free-for-all where my child does whatever he wants?” It’s important to note that one of the most important guiding principles of positive discipline is that it is “kind” but also “firm.” Sheila Locklear, Director of Open Door School, feels this is important for parents to understand. “We want people to understand that you can positively discipline children in a way that’s respectful,” says Locklear, “but that doesn’t mean it’s a free-for all. There are consequences.” Locklear explains that within the positive discipline model it’s important that the consequences for any so-called misbehavior are logical and reasonable. For a young child, it might be something as simple as redirection; older children may benefit from a conversation focused on how to solve the problem.

Because many parents are left confused about how to put positive discipline into practice effectively, Open Door’s two-part workshop will be hands-on, providing parents with practical strategies they can use right away at home. “We hope to, number one, give people a basic understanding of what positive discipline is and then also give them tools they can take home,” says Locklear. “Parents can expect to walk away with very concrete ways of dealing with common discipline struggles using techniques that do not include yelling, punishment, nagging, and those other stressors that tend to divide children and parents,” says Open Door parent and event organizer Tyler Hamilton. “The goal is for parents to leave feeling as though there is another way to approach discipline, that it can involve connection and compassion while also providing boundaries and structure.”

Positive discipline is an important part of Open Door School’s progressive philosophy, and some form of this workshop has been offered to Open Door families for many years. This year’s workshop is open to the public and provides valuable strategies for all parents, not just those whose children attend a progressive preschool. “My goal is for the general public to see that progressive education isn’t just something that Open Door does,” says Locklear. “It’s something that’s practiced all over the country.” Hamilton, who attended last year’s seminar and recommends it to friends, stresses that the workshop is useful for everyone. “I don’t know a single parent who has it ‘figured out’ when it comes to discipline and raising their kids,” says Hamilton. “We all stress over ‘Am I doing it right?’ and grasp at anything we can to create a peaceful household that doesn’t involve constant yelling.”

Moreover, the workshop provides a welcoming community for parents dealing with the all-too-common struggles faced by everyone who cares for children. “It was nice to know that other folks were experiencing the same challenges,” says Hamilton. “I firmly believe in this approach to parenting and wouldn’t be able to do it without seminars like this. I watch this approach in action with my kids as well as my friends’ kids who parent this way . . . without fail, these are kids you want to be around – well-spoken, curious, helpful, compassionate. It works, and I believe that if everyone took this tack with their kids, we’d live in a much different world.”

You can register for the Positive Discipline Workshop at

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her eight-year-old daughter Hannah and her six-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: