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Parents and teachers now have a new and valuable resource they can use to help them in their daily interactions with children: "101s A Guide to Positive Discipline." The three CD-ROM set was released recently by noted parenting and childhood education expert Katharine Kersey.

Filmed over a period of three years in the Old Dominion University Child Study and Child Development Centers that she directs, the "101s" is a list of techniques she and her students have compiled over the last 35 years to help teachers and parents teach children respect and love. The techniques are also designed to provide nurturance, shape behavior, address misbehavior, foster independence and build resiliency.

"This really is a fun way to live," said Kersey. "There are so few bad moments if you can think ahead and apply the techniques. It empowers the parents and helps the kids. Children need to know that their parents are in control; it's scary for children when they are not."

A longtime professor of early childhood education and chair of the Department of Early Childhood, Speech Language Pathology and Special Education as well as mother of three, Kersey firmly believes it is important to employ the techniques early on. "Children are born with empathy," she said. "We see babies in the nursery who will give their own pacifier to calm another crying baby. Children can lose that empathy by 2 or 3 if it is not modeled and reinforced."

Kersey, who is also the author of "Sensitive Parenting," "Helping Your Child Handle Stress," "Don't Take It Out on Your Kids," and "The First Year Teacher," began making lists early in her career. She was a proponent of not spanking in the late 1950s and she compiled a list of 10 reasons not to spank. It quickly grew to 30, and she shared her reasons at gatherings where she was invited to speak.

"After teaching for a while, one of my students said that since I offered 30 reasons not to spank, I should also offer 30 alternatives to spanking. I wasn't even following my own teaching, to focus on the positive things the children do and not the negative. My students started adding to the list and it eventually became 101!"

One of the most important "101s" is the demonstrate respect principle said Kersey. "You need to ask yourself, would I want someone saying that to me?" In one of the first segments of the CD-ROM set, the teacher observes a student's uncomfortable reaction to the cameras in the classroom. She demonstrates the respect principle by taking him aside to talk to him and reassure him that he is OK. In the younger classroom, a teacher stops reading a book to a toddler when she realizes the child is too tired to continue. The teacher begins to rock her to sleep and the child immediately quiets down.

Kersey's favorite principle is connect before you correct. "Whenever we have a broken connection, it absorbs our time and energy," she said. "We need to remember to share positive thoughts with the person, whether it be your child, his parent or a co-worker, before attacking the problem. Always close the conversation on a positive note as well."

The CD-ROM, filmed by staff members of ODU's TELETECHNET distance learning program, recently received positive reviews when it was presented at conferences in Chicago and Roanoke by members of the ODU Early Childhood Education Alumni Chapter.

The Head Start program is buying hundreds of the CDs to train their teachers, according to Kersey. This fall, she and TELETECHNET staff members will go to Newsome Park Elementary School in Newport News where 11 ODU graduates currently teach to film their use of the "101s" in the public school PK-6 classrooms. "We want to show you can do this with older children as well," said Kersey. "I don't want people to think it is only applicable to young children; it also works with spouses and co-workers."

The three-CD-ROM set is also available in DVD and VHS formats. The "101s" can be purchased at www.dl.odu.edu/101s and in the ODU Bookstore.

This article was posted on: July 15, 2004

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