PDCR Article in Growing Up In Santa Cruz

Positive Discipline Community Resources:

Written by Suki Wessling   

Not just the tip of the iceberg.
“We have become a bullying culture, radiating out from our most intimate relationships all the way to the worksite and sports field,” says Jane Weed Pomerantz.

Pomerantz’s job titles show her dedication to local families: President of the Board of Positive Discipline Community Resources (PDCR); Positive Discipline Association Board Member; CPD Lead Trainer; former Mayor of Santa Cruz City; Board of Supervisors Appointee to Childcare Planning Council.

Pomerantz founded Positive Discipline Community Resources four years ago, hoping to tie together the work of the many local leaders influenced by Positive Discipline, which was first popularized as a parenting approach by therapist Jane Nelson. With growing interest in her books, Nelson soon found that PD’s principles could be applied in a wider range of human interaction.

And thus the birth of PDCR.
Behind the unassuming name of this four-year-old Santa Cruz nonprofit lie aspirations to reach into the work, education, and home lives of every resident of our county.

“[Positive Discipline] resonated with the type of parent I wanted to be,” explains Colleen Murphy, who used PD during her years as a preschool teacher and now is a PD educator and trainer. “The reason I want to spread the good news of PD is that I find it a program that changes people’s lives at a core level. It’s not a quick fix sort of program, not a formula you plug in. It’s about personal growth.”

At the heart of Positive Discipline is the value of communication.
“Kids are at school on a daily basis,” points out Stephanie Tam Rosas, an educator who is on the PDCR board. “To have these people outside of their family talk to them and interact with them with respectful communication gives them the social and emotional skills to be able to respectfully communicate with other people as they grow up.”

“Positive Discipline is a model that works because the core concept of Positive Discipline is building respectful relationships,” says Rachel Cordero, a certified parent trainer who works at the Rebele Family Shelter. “PD is focused on empowering others to buy in to the solution finding process.”

Cordero’s relationship with Positive Discipline keeps her on her toes in her work at the shelter. “There was a woman who was encouraging her two-year-old to hit back at a child that hit him,” she recalls. She and a group of women explored what it meant to the child to receive that advice. “Another woman chimed in and said, ‘I also did that when my kids were young and my 23-year-old is now in jail.’ It was a real pause and a real connection.”

Nga Trinh-Halperin, Director of PDCR, offers a personal anecdote of how PD helped her family when a foster child they were caring for acted out.

“It’s one thing to talk about it and it’s another thing to have compassion for someone who’s right in front of you,” she explains. “As a parent, you’re going, ‘oh my gosh where did she learn to do that?’ We talked with our children about the belief behind the behavior, when someone is lying, acting out, and hurting someone else.”

The PDCR board hopes that PD practices will radiate outward from specific environments into our community.

“If you’re able to pair it with the parenting piece then you’ve made this great consistency across the school and the home life, where they’re sharing principles and methods and a common language,” Rosas explains.

PDCR isn’t just trying to reach parents—their model encourages them to reach out to every corner of our local community to create a common language. They encourage the use of PD in schools, by therapists, in the jails, and even in local workplaces.

Colleen Murphy explains how the concepts behind PD would be implemented in the work environment: “The concept is having everybody participate in the solution. How does that play out for a young child? You give them two choices. You take that same idea to the workplace: You’re my employee, here’s the problem we have, so let’s throw out some ideas. It’s the concept of ‘I am the authority and I have the bottom line, but I’m interested in how you would solve this’.”

Murphy explains that the focus of Positive Discipline is on the deeper problems—the part of the iceberg that we can’t see on the surface.

“Most parenting programs look at how we change the behavior,” she points out.

“Ours is a relationship model, so we’re interested in what is underneath the iceberg, which is usually huge. We’re interested in not only the behavior, but the belief behind the behavior.”

This unified group of women behind PDCR see their mission as tackling the iceberg beneath not just child misbehavior, but a whole range of problems in our community.

“There are a lot of Band-aid approaches to some of the ‘social ills’ that we’ve seen,” explains Trinh-Halperin. “Until we can bring it to the level where PD is at, the human development model that we’re using, we’re running on that hamster wheel. We have a lot of trauma and pain, and it starts often with the home situation. So we start developing systems like the punitive system. But all of these patterns can be broken if we can enable adults with skills and tools and ways of being, especially with children, so we can have some long-term change.”

Pomerantz points to one local educator whose adoption of PD has created long term change in our community. “More than a decade ago Lysa Tabachnick attended a Positive Discipline for All Ages class I was teaching at Gault School. She went to Monarch Community School where she was a teacher about to move into the directorship. She convinced the staff to become trained. She knew it was more than dealing with difficult behaviors—it was about building community and a way for everyone to be involved in solving problems that arose on the playground, in class and even with parents.”

Now Co-Principal of the Branciforte Small Schools Campus and Principal of the Santa Cruz Adult School, Tabachnick has encouraged the principles of PD to be used with kindergartners and second language learners, teens and parents.

“It does take a village to raise a child,” Pomerantz says. “We are all connected and when there is a consistent attitude, language and approach, we see more secure attachment and behaviors that demonstrate ‘Gemeinshaftsgefuhl’ or social interest and a tendency to give back and contribute in meaningful ways.

“As we say, Positive Discipline is about developing people who will do the right thing even when no one is looking!”

For more information: Visit the PDCR website at http://www.pdcrsantacruz.org/ for class listings, support for families, and support for teachers.

Suki Wessling is a local writer and the mother of two children. Her book, From School to Homeschool, is a guide to help parents transition from a school-based to homeschool-based mindset. To become one of Suki’s local correspondents, visit her contact page at www.SukiWessling.com.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 12 August 2014 03:08 )


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