Conscious Discipline: Building Connection at Home and at School

Have you heard of Conscious Discipline?  It is a trauma informed, evidenced based, comprehensive SEL, social, emotional learning, for schools and home founded by Dr. Becky Bailey. I learn about it during my marriage and family internship. One of my supervisors recommended that I research Conscious Discipline because I wanted to learn more about how to help children.   Since then I have attended a one-day, two-day and week-long seminar. I was always the fish out of water being the only MFT in the room of preschool and elementary teachers and school administrators.  What I like so much about it is that it is based on relationships-connection--governing behavior instead of rewards, consequences and resorting to threats. Have you noticed that you treat people you are close to differently than you treat that you aren’t or even strangers.  When you are friends with someone, you tolerate and often ignore behavior that may have otherwise annoyed you.  When you have a disagreement you tend to resolve it amicably. CD helps the brain build neural networks, which increase impulse control, positive behavior, increase attention. Dr. Bailey provides parents advice how to build safe, secure, supportive relationships with their children. At school, this is done by building classroom relationships through songs, greetings, and activities. Younger children participate in I Love You Rituals, and older children in team building rituals with eye contact and touch, presents, playfulness. Something magical and mystical happens when people sustain eye contact.  An intimate connection is made. As students build relationship with teachers and friends disagreements and behavior problems in the classroom decrease. They have more compassion for each other and want to resolve disagreements instead of fighting. For children to be successful in school parent-child, teacher-student and student to student relationships are necessary. To increase your children's academic success go to

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Sticks and Stone Can Break Bone and Words Can Crush My Chips.

The speaker, Hank Smith, held up a, bright yellow and red bag of chips for the audience to see.  Then he closed his hands around the cellophane crushed it several times.  Afterwards he held it up again.  The bag looked the same on the outside, but as he shook it, everyone could hear crumbs rattling inside.   He explained that something similar happens to people and children when they are verbally abused.  They look the same on the outside, but are bruised and broken on the inside.  I liked this illustration and tried it with a family I was counseling.  The father shook his head, as I handed him two bags of chips and explained that each time his son and daughter said something mean to each other, it was like crushing a bag of their favorite chips--in this case the son liked classic Lay's potato chips and the daughter liked spicy Doritos.  I continued, “The bag looks the same after squeezing it, but not the chips inside.” I asked him to crush them once each time his children said something hurtful to each other and then report back.  He credulously took the bags and agreed. Then I told the siblings that next week I would give them their bag of chips, and warned them, “It's up to you what condition they are in.” The following week, to the father’s surprise, he said that it worked.  He only had to crush the bag of Lays once and the Doritos twice.  This is a fun way to help families members visualize what happens when they say cruel things to each other.  But there is nothing humorous about verbal abuse.  It is so serious that when children hear verbal abuse, it is similar to witnessing domestic violence and it can alter their brains' structure.  Adolescent and adult victims report they wish that…

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