Noël Janis-Norton, founder and director of The Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting Centre in London, is a learning and behavior specialist with more than 40 years’ experience helping parents and teachers on both sides of the Atlantic. Through her innovative Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting and Teaching programs, she has helped hundreds of thousands of parents and teachers learn effective techniques that result in more cooperative, confident, motivated, self-reliant and considerate children both at home and in the classroom.
“I’ve been teaching parents and teachers for 35 years, and I’ve been teaching children for 40 years. My approach to everything is solution-focused. Instead of thinking, ‘This is the way kids are, or this is the way teachers are, or this is the way schools are, or the way families are,’ I’m always thinking, ‘How can we do something different to get a different result?’ ”
In the 1970s, as a new educator fresh out of teachers’ college at New York University, Noël immediately began carefully observing other teachers’ classrooms and took notes about what she saw working well. One of her key insights was that it was not any intrinsic quality of the teacher that made children behave, but certain techniques. “To my intense delight, it started working immediately. When I started doing what those effective teachers did, the kids started responding to me as if I was one the senior teachers.”
Very quickly she became noted for her well-behaved students and other teachers began to ask her for her secrets. This was the beginning of her quest to make not only teaching but also parenting and all interactions with young people better. “The things that trouble you or annoy you can be changed if you just start looking for solutions. So my assumption about everything is that there are strategies that can make everything better,” she says.
The Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting Centre
After five years in the classroom, Noël found she was in demand as a behavior advisor and her specialized work became her career. As she worked with teachers and families, she developed her “Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting and Teaching” techniques. A few years later she returned to the England she had fallen in love with as an American teenager attending boarding school. There she achieved her dream of opening The Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting Centre, where classes are offered year-round for parents and teaching professionals.
What Sets Noël Apart
Noël’s methods are common sense, highly specific and absolutely solution focused. Parents always tell Noël that their biggest frustration is having to repeat instructions numerous times before their children cooperate. Noël’s methods give parents a step by step approach to solve this problem, using positive and respectful techniques that make children want to cooperate without complaint and without having to be reminded.
As a mother, grandmother and foster parent, Noël discovered that parents must retrain themselves in order to retrain their children. After only a few hours’ time and a little practice, most are able to go back into their homes as more cheerful, firm, consistent and caring parents who are empowered to reclaim their role as heads of household. “How I approach parenting is all about teaching,” Noël says. “And parents need to be their children’s teachers.”
One of her central tenets, taken from Alfred Adler, is that we should never do anything for our children that they can do for themselves. Another is that we must always keep in mind the difference between “upset” and “unhappy.” A child might become upset several times a day, and scream while insisting on having a certain cup, for instance. But most children in Western society are well-fed, well-cared-for and never unhappy in any real sense. With this realization, parents can stop letting themselves be controlled by their children’s outbursts, rise above the fray and teach and train their children to be self-reliant human beings.
Noël has sound advice on everything from homework to music practice to overindulging our children with toys. “People always talk about teenagers succumbing to peer pressure, but I think that there’s far more peer pressure on most adults,” she says, explaining our desire to give our children “everything.” What children get instead through “Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting” is a world of predictable routines, clear rules and loads of descriptive praise that catches them doing the right thing and inspires them to think of themselves as considerate and capable people.
Within a short time, the child who has been beaten down by criticism, nagging, reminding and yelling can become one who cooperates 90% of the time and begins to seek positive attention rather than negative. To Noël, it makes much more sense to head off misbehavior than punish it. “If punishment worked, all our prisons would be empty,” she quips.
Noël continues to refine her techniques as she maintains a packed schedule of seminars and classes in England and California, including travel to schools, home visits and phone consultations.
“Our daughter has taken to these new techniques like magic. She sat at the table last night for dinner without a battle, said “excuse me” when done and then cleared her dishes. Where’s my child?? This morning, there was no video and she played by herself in her room while I packed her lunch, and she was dressed and ready for school 30 minutes before her usual routine – with no battle. Just amazing.”
~Abbie, mother of a 3 year old, Venice
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