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Positive Discipline Tool Card: Assumed Inadequacy

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

Positive Discipline Teacher's Tool Cards by Jane Nelsen and Kelly Gfroerer and Positive Discipline Parenting Tool Cards by Jane Nelsen and Adrian Garsia, each offer 52 Positive Discipline tools that are available to help with many teaching and parenting challenges. Assumed Inadequacy is the highlighted tool in this blog post.

After trying out this tool with the children in your life, please share a story of success, or struggle, you've had with it. Thank you! The more you apply the Positive Discipline teaching and parenting tools, the more they will become a part of your own lifestyle. Practice makes better!



Story -

5th grader Darryl was the kind of student that seemed invisible in class. He snuck into class at the last minute, avoided talking during class to anyone, and often was the first one out of class when the bell signaled the end of day. His teacher, Mrs. Rolan, was at a loss on how to help him. Darryl had previously avoided her attempts to get him to participate in class.

After attending a Positive Discipline in the Classroom workshop, Mrs. Rolan learned about Mistaken Goals, and that Assumed Inadequacy was the mistaken goal she often found that lined up with Darryl's behavior that left her feeling hopeless and not knowing how to help him..

Mrs. Rolan decided to try something different with Darryl. She committed to chatting with him to get to know him better and identify his strengths. Then, she set up opportunities for success for him, based upon those strengths. One of these opportunities was she had him lead a group in creating a poster for one of the class assignments. Darryl was talented at drawing and he seemed to get more involved with the project because of this. After the project, Darryl started connecting better with his classmates and with Mrs. Rolan. He even raised his hand in class to answer a question, that week.



There is no equivalent Positive Discipline Parenting Tool Card for Assumed Inadequacy. Please refer to the teacher's tool card above.

Story -

After Emily got home from school, her usual routine was to watch one hour of TV and then her mom, Corrine, would sit with her while she did her homework. This was the least favorite part of Corrine's day because Emily would stall, get easily distracted, and drag homework on for what seemed like hours. It seemed like Corrine was herding cattle instead of checking in with her daughter on homework.

One day, Corrine decided to try talking to Emily to find out what was going on.. Corrine could already see Emily fell under the mistaken goal of assumed inadequacy. Emily shared she felt overwhelmed with homework and it seemed like too much. Corrine helped Emily decide where the homework could be broken into smaller pieces, so Emily could take breaks every so often and still feel like she was accomplishing something. Also, Emily would ask for help when needed and Corrine showed much faith in Emily to be able to own her homework responsibility.


Where can you purchase these tool card decks? The card decks are available at (Select products, then select tool cards) and there are versions available for iPhone and Android in the App stores on the phones.

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