LAWRENCEBURG – “Sticks and Stones: The Power of our Words” was the theme of the 18th annual Southeastern Indiana Economic Opportunity Corp. Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect Conference.
“Not all abuse leaves marks on the outside, but rather scars on the inside,” program director Amy Matzet told 93 attendees April 26. During the day, they learned strategies to be better caregivers, teachers and professionals.
Jenny Spencer, Pendleton, Indiana’s only conscious discipline certified instructor, learned about the program from its creator, Dr. Becky Bailey, who has said, “Discipline is not something we do to children. It is something we develop within them.”
“Who are the infant/toddler people?” she asked. Hands flew up. “Two-year-olds?” More hands. Spencer counted up to school-age child care providers, then wondered, “Special needs?”
In 2007 she was at a state conference workshop on “how to handle all the fussing, fighting, fits and tantrums.” Although Spencer already used rewards and punishments in the classroom and at home, when the speaker was first introduced to conscious discipline, “I was sold right away. I ended up pursuing that journey and discovered a new passion – to find a new way to discipline myself and my children.”
The former 18-year special education teacher has used conscious discipline techniques with students. “I learned it applies to everything I do in life.”
“How many of you have said or done something and thought, ‘I shouldn’t have done that?’” She pointed out, “If we are out-of-control adults, how are we supposed to make our children behave? This is a guidance program, to come alongside our children” to develop skills.
Spencer repeated phrases she’s heard parents use: “I am not even going to talk to you right now. When will you ever get it right?” Then the educator reminded, “You can’t take harsh words back.”