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  • BeckyD

Help children learn social and life skills: "Positive Discipline" by Jane Nelsen



Positive Discipline is about setting boundaries respectfully with children - a "kind and firm" discipline style. It's about guiding children in a way that is respectful to both adult and child - mutually respectful - when the child gets off course. This may sound different than how you were raised if you lived in a household where yelling, blaming, and shaming were the norm - a punitive environment. On the other hand, maybe you were raised in a household where there weren't many boundaries and you tried to figure out what you needed to do to grow up - a permissive environment.


American poet, Maya Angelou said, "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." The "Positive Discipline" book is full of concepts and tools that you can apply to help you do better with your parenting - to have more effective parenting skills.

The "Positive Discipline" book is laid out in an easy to read format. One can jump to a particular chapter to focus on the topic of interest and then go elsewhere in the book. However, if you're new to Positive Discipline, I highly recommend you read the book in chronological order. The first two chapters give a good background to understanding this parenting philosophy, which was very helpful to me who came from having a punitive parenting style. "Seek first to understand than to be understood." as Steven Covey wrote, in the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People." It was a mindset shift for me to go from a punitive parenting style to a Positive Discipline (kind and firm) parenting style. A positive life-changing decision that I will forever be grateful for.


After the first two chapters, chapters 3-10 each have their own topic, chapter 11 puts it all together, and chapter 12 talks about love and joy in homes and classrooms to end the book on a positive, hope-filled note. Now, I'll mention the topics covered in chapters 3-10, which are all worth a read, and were quite eye-opening for me and required me to move away from my "black and white" thinking, luckily, to embrace something more effective:


  • Chapter 3 - The Significance of Birth Order

  • Chapter 4 - A New Look at Misbehavior

  • Chapter 5 - Beware of Logical Consequences

  • Chapter 6 - Focusing on Solutions

  • Chapter 7 - Using Encouragement Effectively

  • Chapter 8 - Class Meetings

  • Chapter 9 - Family Meetings

  • Chapter 10 - Personality: How Yours Affects Theirs

The Positive Discipline concepts are based upon Alfred Adler's Individual Psychology. Alfred Adler was a Viennese psychiatrist who was a peer of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, and was in the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society with them back in the first decade of the 1900's. Adler broke off from the group because of differing philosophies, and started his own group. Over the years, many prominent psychiatrists and psychologists, such as Abraham Maslow, Viktor Frankl, and Erich Fromm, have been influenced by Adler's Individual Psychology.


Another wonderful benefit of reading the book, "Positive Discipline", is that the concepts can be used (words may need to be adapted) for adult to adult communication, too. Since Positive Discipline was written, there are some new trainings to help improve adult communication using the concepts. Two trainings are: "Empowering People in the Workplace" and "Keeping the Joy in Relationships." Here is the link to check them out: https://www.positivediscipline.com/events


I invite you to try out some of the Positive Discipline tools from this book and let me know what you think.

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