The following information is a summary of the key issues from the seminar, presented from Mrs. Gruener’s theoretical integration, emphasizing positive parenting techniques with a Positive Discipline focus as a licensed clinical professional counselor with certifications in Positive Discipline.
What is Positive Discipline?
Positive Discipline is an approach toward parenting created by Jane Nelsen (Nelsen, 2006) inspired by Rudolph Dreikers (Dreikurs & Soltz, 1987), refined in practice by Lynn Lott and Jane Nelsen (2012), and broadened through the work of many members of the Positive Discipline Association. Positive Discipline is an encouraging and supportive approach toward children, based upon Adlerian theory with key components including but not limited to: kind and firm, connection, encouragement, understanding the belief behind the behavior through the mistaken goals of childhood, finding solutions, and taking time to train (Lott & Nelsen, 2012; Nelsen, 2006).
What is twice-exceptional?
Twice-exceptional (2E) is a term that is used in the field of education for gifted children who have a co-occurring disability. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) recognizes 13 disability categories from specific learning disabilities, speech/language impairments, emotional disturbances and autism, to hearing and visual impairments, and other health impairments (NACG, 2009). Information on IDEA and the disability categories can be found at idea.ed.gov.
Much of the research on 2E children focuses attention on three types of exceptionalities: Specific Learning Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Blank, 2014; NAGC, 2009; Peters, 2014). Parents are recommended to contact their mental health providers as there have been changes in the criteria for diagnosing ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders, with Asperger’s syndrome no longer within the diagnostic categories, in the DSM-5. It is yet to be determined how this will affect children with these diagnoses.
Why Tailor Positive Discipline?
While research supports the use of positive parenting with gifted children, twice exceptional children bring their own unique set of challenges that can make implementing Positive Discipline hard. Parents of twice-exceptional children have the additional challenge of implementing appropriate discipline that is communicated respectfully and directly, supportive of social development, and meets the unique challenges of their child. The seminar focused on tailoring Positive Discipline to support twice-exceptional children’s development of responsibility and problem solving.
Key strategies for Tailoring Positive Discipline for 2E children
As with all parenting, connection and understanding are key. Speirs-Neumeister et al. (2013) found that the parents of academically successful 2E children recognized their children’s strengths and disabilities, then assumed responsibility for developing their children’s potential. Twice-exceptional children have unique strengths and weaknesses that can result in unique parenting challenges. Understanding a child’s strengths and weaknesses, the unique challenges that a child with special needs face, can help parents connect and potentially provide insight into ways in which to approach and support respectful and supportive interactions.
Nicpon & Peters (2014) recommend Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a 2E child, through use of a comprehensive evaluation. Obtaining comprehensive information about a child’s strengths and challenges across cognitive, academic, and emotional areas, is essential in understanding potential problems and functioning, and in formulating recommendations-planning what to (or not to) do (Silve et al., 2006). Results from comprehensive evaluations can help parents understand and find ways to support both the gifts and the challenges of their 2E child. More information on neuropsychological evaluations can be found through Medscape at emedicine.medscape.com/article/317596-overview. More information on other types of comprehensive evaluations can be found through the University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center at http://www2.education.uiowa.edu/belinblank/
Rudasill, Adelson, Callahan, Houlihan & Keizer (2013) found that gifted children whose parents used authoritative parenting skills had better outcomes than peers whose parents were permissive or less warm and responsive. Kindness and firmness, understanding the belief behind the behavior with use of the Mistaken Goal Chart, focusing on solutions, and the top 10 Positive Discipline tools (Lott & Nelsen, 2012; Nelsen, 2006) are concepts that assist parents in understanding and putting into practice some of the approaches of authoritative parenting (Baumrind, 1966, 1967). Authoritative parenting styles (Baumrind, 1966, 1967)emphasize autonomous self-will (through sharing and soliciting information as well as affirming the child) and disciplined conformity (through setting standards for conduct). Nelsen (2006) emphasizes using the positive aspects of both kind and firm parenting approaches and pulls the democratic parenting approach of Rudolph Dreikurs (Mansager & Volk, 2004) into this concept by incorporating trust, clear hierarchical boundaries, while coming from a place of love, respect, flexibility and nurturance.
Many parents of 2E children have found the concepts of focusing on solutions, being kind and firm, the top 10 Positive Discipline tools, and the mistaken goal chart useful. When we focus on finding solutions, we remove shame and blame, ask questions from a place of curiosity, and allow children to find solutions to their problems, or problem solve together (Lott & Nelsen, 2012). Some 2E children require more assistance in learning how to problem solve because of their unique challenges. In these cases, we take more time to train (Nelsen, 2006).
Though children with special needs face unique challenges, the strengths-the giftedness part of the child-must not be overshadowed or dismissed. Speirs-Neumesiter et al. (2013) recommend that parents engage in discussion about dual identities, teach problem-solving skills, and individualize and normalize accommodations for diagnoses or disabilities.
Participants in the seminar were offered the opportunities to explore and discuss their child’s strengths and weaknesses, learn about the changes to diagnostic categories in the DSM-5 and explore Positive Discipline concepts and tools, focusing on finding solutions while taking time to train, in order to support problem-solving.
More information can be requested, along with the expanded references for these Tips by contacting Catherine Gruener, LCPC, NCC, Gruener Consulting LLC, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.gruenerconsulting.com
Corrected reference type errors, 2016
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