Behavioral Change

Positive Discipline

Positive Discipline

Summary of “Positive Discipline” by Jane Nelsen: Positive discipline teaches us how to educate our children with kindness and firmness, whether within the family or at school. It also teaches us methods that use fair authority and encouragement to allow children to develop autonomy, cooperation and many other essential skills for their well-being.

By Jane Nelsen, 2014, 416 pages

Chronicle and summary of “Positive Discipline” by Jane Nelsen 

Preface and foreword

What is positive discipline?

Positive discipline is:

    • Education that is firm and kind without having to choose between the two.
    • Finding the right balance of authority so that children can grow in a spirit of cooperation and independence.
    • Allowing children to acquire essential life skills, through a relationship based on trust and mutual respect.

Positive discipline uses tools that focus on encouragement. You can apply them in a home or school setting. This novel approach helps parents and teachers to apply a form of education that associates firmness and kindness. This helps children to want to create bonds and develop a sense of belonging that nurtures them and allows them to exist.

The basics of positive discipline

Positive discipline relies on the teachings of the Austrian psychiatrists Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs. They focused on learning self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation and the qualities required for problem solving.

In this book, Jane Nelsen explains how the Adler psychology of positive discipline transformed her family life. She bases it on her personal journey as a mother to seven children and grandmother to twenty-one grandchildren. She also talks about how it helped her to move forward professionally as a family therapist.

Chapter 1 – The positive approach

1.1 – Evolving authority

According to Rudolf Dreikurs, society has evolved greatly in recent decades. Hand in hand with these changes appears a change in the behaviour of children. He notes two important changes:

  • Adults are no longer examples of submission and obedience for children

“The day that the father lost his control over the mother, they both lost control over the children.” Rudolf Dreikurs

Children only follow the examples that they see around them. Therefore, while models of submissions were many in the past, (the father as an employee, minorities, etc.), these days children grow up with an equality model. They do not react in the same way as the previous generations. They want to be treated with respect and dignity too.

  • Children have fewer opportunities to develop their sense of responsibility and motivation

Jane Nelsen suggest that we give our children too much these days in the name of love. We do not require them to provide any effort or investment. This leads them to act as if everything is their due. However, it is important for children to participate and contribute. The author emphasizes that in this context:

    • encouragement has become a primary factor in a child’s success and in helping them with their academic and social skills.
    • moving away from punishment does not mean allowing children to do whatever they want.

1.2 – The 7 perceptions and skills essential to the development of independent and capable persons.

If a child adopts inappropriate behaviour, this is most often because one or more of the “7 essential perceptions and skills” are absent or fragile:

  • Three solid perceptions of:
    • Personal capabilities → I am capable.
    • Their own importance in primary relationships → I contribute in meaningful ways and I am genuinely needed.
    • Personal power and control over life → I can influence whatever happens to me.
  • Four skills:
    • Intra-personal skills → the ability to understand personal emotions and to use that understanding to develop self-discipline and self-control.
    • Inter-personal skills → the ability to work with others and develop friendships through communicating, cooperation, negotiation, sharing, empathy and listening.
    • Systemic skills → the ability to respond to the limits and consequences of everyday life with responsibility, adaptability, flexibility and integrity.
    • Judgemental skills → the ability to use wisdom and to evaluate situations according to appropriate values.

1.3 – Strictness, permissiveness and positive discipline

  • The 3 models of adult/child interaction 

  1. The strict model (excessive control): the adult tells the child what rules to follow. The adult explains what punishment the child will receive if they do not observe these rules. The child has no role in the decision-making process. The result of this excessive control is either rebellion or submission.
  2. The permissive model (no rules): the child is loved and happy and the adult thinks that the child will be able to choose their own rules later on. The child enjoys all kinds of freedom but there is no framework. Permissiveness creates unhealthy co-dependence instead of developing independence and cooperation.
  3. Positive discipline (kindness and firmness at the same time): together we decide on what rules will benefit everyone and we agree to the solutions that will help everyone when we encounter a problem. If we have to make a decision without involving the child, we do it with kindness and firmness, dignity and respect. The goal of positive discipline is to get positive results in the long term and to develop independence and cooperation in the immediate.
  • The 4 Rs of punishment

Jane Nelsen warns us against punishments. The immediate result is what we see, but not the negative long-term effects. In the words of the author, they can be summarised into the four Rs:

    • Resentment → This is unfair. I can’t trust adults.
    • Revenge → They are winning now, but I’ll get even.
    • Rebellion → I’ll do just the opposite to prove I don’t have to do it their way.
    • Retreat → Sneakiness: I won’t get caught next time. / Reduced self-esteem: I am a bad person.

For Jane Nelsen, the feelings that result from punishment do not allow children to develop positive skills that are constructive and useful.

1.4 – Four criteria for effective discipline

Effective positive discipline:

  1. is kind and firm at the same time, respectful and encouraging.
  2. helps children to develop a sense of importance and belonging (connection).
  3. is effective in the long term (punishment is effective in the short term, but it has negative results in the long term).
  4. teaches social skills and develops personalities that act respectfully, with concern for others, accountability and cooperation.
  5. invites children to trust in their abilities and to use their personal potential in a constructive manner.

The punitive approach does not meet any of these criteria. We really need to set aside the strange notion that “for a child to do better, we first need to make them feel less good.” (principle of punishment).

1.5 – Kindness and firmness at the same time

  • Being kind means being respectful of the child’s world

Kindness is knowing how to:

    • validate what the child is feeling in relation to his or her behaviour I see that you are disappointed, angry, upset, etc.
    • trust the child (he will get over his disappointment) and thereby allow him to feel capable
    • take some time out, when necessary, to calm down, be able to manage your emotions and teach your children this skill (by being the model)
  • Being firm means being respectful of the adult’s world

Firmness represents self-respect, respect for the adult world. It responds to the specific needs of the situation.

“Authoritarian methods […] usually lack kindness, while permissive methods usually lack firmness.”

  • Kindness and firmness at the same time = respect for the child, the adult and the situation

To use kindness and firmness at the same time (not one or the other) requires a two-pronged approach:

    • Set pre-established limits together (parents and children)

When the children are involved in the “how” and have choices, they feel that they have some control over the situation. They are cooperative and empowered. You have to understand boundaries to respect them. They are based on the needs of the children and adapted to their age group.

When a child breaks a limit, continue to involve the child in a respectful, yet effective manner, even if you are tempted to scold and punish. We can use what Jane Nelsen calls the “curiosity questions”: “What happened? What do you think caused the situation? Or what solution can you propose? And what did you learn that can help you next time?” 

    • Help children to feel “connected” through a sense of belonging and importance

It is vital to create a bond with the child, to “connect” to use Jane Nelsen’s term, in order to respectfully correct inappropriate behaviour.

1.6 – Connect before you correct / teach

Jane Nelsen invites us to use the following tools to connect with a child:

  • Listen actively; take some time to focus all your attention on the child.
  • Begin by validating what the child is feeling, his or her emotions.
  • Share your feelings, in an appropriate way.
  • Focus, with the child, on the possible solutions, once things have calmed down.
  • Practise implementing teachings in a respectful way.
  • Ask curiosity questions to help the child explore the consequence of his or her choices.
  • Trust children to manage their problems by themselves.
  • Spend some “dedicated time” together.
  • Show affection using affectionate gestures.

Chapter 2 – The foundations of positive discipline based on the Adler principles

In this more theoretical chapter, Jane Nelsen explains how the principles of the psychiatrist Alfred Adler are behind the tools of positive discipline. This step should lead us to better understanding of what makes children adopt inappropriate behaviour.

The author also emphasizes that the concept of positive discipline is to invite the child to cooperate instead of entering into a power struggle.

“Nothing could be further than Adlerism [or positive discipline] than an education in which the adult imposes knowledge from outside and controls by making extensive use of rules and withdrawal of privileges. The forced submission places the child in a relationship of dependence with regards to the adult, seeking approval.”

2.1 – Children are social beings

A child’s behaviour relates closely to the social context, the vision that they construct of the world that surrounds them, of others and of themselves.

2.2 – The child’s behaviour tends towards a goal

Children are not aware of the goal that they seek to attain. Dreikurs says that:

“Children perceive well, but interpret poorly.”

In fact, they often achieve the opposite effect to the one they are looking for. For example, they clumsily attempt to reach their goal, provoking annoyance or anger, which reinforces their inappropriate behaviour.” That is why Jane Nelsen invites us to observe the inappropriate behaviour of children as survival strategies.

2.3 – The essential need of human beings is to belong and to be important

Jane Nelsen explains that the end goal of the child’s behaviour is to have a sense of belonging and importance in a social environment. Children need to feel that they are wanted. They need us to need them.

The sense of belonging, of importance, and the fact of feeling capable are the pillars of good self-esteem. If a child feels that they are good enough and that their personal contribution has genuine importance in how the family functions or at school, this strengthens their conviction that they “are part of things”, that they belong.

2.4 – A child who misbehaves is a child who feels discouraged

Through inappropriate behaviour, children tell us things that they cannot otherwise say. So, for the adult, understanding the child comes down to asking yourself: What is he (she) trying to tell me? How can I help my child find their place and feel that they truly belong?

2.5 – Social responsibility is at the heart of positive discipline

Teaching “social responsibility” is a major component of positive discipline. Being socially responsible implies genuinely having the best interest of others at heart and sincerely wanting to contribute to society. Dreikurs said:

Don’t do something for a child that he can do alone. By doing too many things for them, we deprive children of lots of opportunities to develop their sense of being capable through experience. On the contrary, he may believe that he needs taking care of or deserves special treatment.

In fact, the first step in teaching social responsibility is teaching autonomy. We have to avoid overprotecting children for them to believe in their abilities. This happens through two processes:

  • Do not do things for / instead of – take the time to teach.
  • Involve children in the decision-making, the planning and the accomplishment of the tasks required for the proper functioning of the home or the school.

2.6 – The principle of equality is the foundation of cooperation

“Equal” does not mean identical. Equality means that everyone is entitled to respect and dignity. It is about seeking cooperation from the child.

  • Putting the 4 steps to winning children’s cooperation into practice

Four stages allow us to create a connection. The children become ready to listen and more cooperative:

  1. Show the child that you understand his or her emotions by asking questions and paraphrasing the feelings (connect).
  2. Demonstrate empathy, without excusing or approving. Empathy signifies understanding of the child’s perception (for example, by sharing personal experiences).
  3. Express your perceptions and feelings as an adult.
  4. Invite the child to seek solutions. Ask the child for ideas about what could be put in place to avoid the same problem in the future. If he or she is short on ideas, make suggestions and reach an agreement.
  • Other important points on the subject of cooperation

    • A loving, attentive and respectful attitude is capital over the course of the four steps described above.
    • The most important thing is not what you do, but how you do it (the feelings and intentions behind our acts take precedent).
    • Asking is more effective than ordering.
    • It is wise to systematically ask yourself: Is what I am doing putting the child in a situation of control? Did I take time to establish a connection before correcting/teaching?

2.7 – Give mistakes their importance as an opportunity to learn and use the 3 Rs to make amends.

In a results oriented society, it can be hard to find the value in mistakes. “Be strong” and “be perfect” remain firmly anchored in the educational approach. Accepting that mistakes, conflicts and other incidents are opportunities for learning on the educational path asks the adult to have the “courage to not be perfect.”

For this, Jane Nelsen suggests using 3 “Rs” to make amends in the event of a mistake:

  • Recognise your share of the responsibility → Oops ! I made a mistake;
  • Reconcile → I am sorry for…;
  • Resolve → I need your help. I would like us to find a solution together.

2.8 – Be sure to pass on the message of love

The adult response can maintain or even encourage the inappropriate behaviour of the child. Fortunately, when the adult changes attitude, the child can too.

Chapter 3 – The significance of birth order

3.1 – Birth order: how does it influence character traits?

In this chapter of “Positive Discipline”, Jane Nelsen explains that a child’s place in the order of children contributes to building his or her personality. To illustrate these ideas, the author gives a complex and detailed description of the profiles of children depending on their order of birth: the first born, the youngest, the middle child and only children. She stresses that she does not mean to generalise, classify or box children into stereotypes. The idea is to offer lines of enquiry to help us enter into the child’s world.

Jane Nelsen also says that other factors can nuance the characteristics of birth order. These include: gender, age difference, exchanges of roles, the family atmosphere (competition/cooperation).

3.2 – What benefits can we take from this analysis of birth order?

According to Jane Nelsen, understanding the role and the place that children occupy in a family in line with their order of birth can help to:

  • Better interpret the child’s reality and the beliefs that lie behind the behaviour. Better understand the resources they have developed according to their position in the order of children.
  • Sort through what is positive (regain her place as the eldest, for example, be recognised again) and what is not (using turbulent and inappropriate behaviour to achieve these goals).
  • Develop a family atmosphere based on cooperation rather than competition.
  • Encourage children to be more flexible in the roles that they give themselves.
  • Choose a strategy best adapted to the child’s need.
  • Better understand the dynamic in a step-family.
  • Help the parents to better understand each other as a couple and to mutually encourage each other.

Chapter 4 – A new look at misbehaviour

4.1 – Better understand the nature of inappropriate behaviour

Awareness of what triggers inappropriate behaviour helps us to look at our children in a more understanding and more empathetic way. When the adult realises that he or she is contributing to the child’s inappropriate behaviour, he or she can help the child to change their conduct by changing his or her own adult responses.

Jane Nelsen specifies that it is important, with respect to our children, to:

  • Show compassion rather than being punitive
  • Adapt our expectations to their development stage
  • Involve them in setting up routines
  • Ask them curiosity questions that invite cooperation instead of making demands
  • Consider inappropriate behaviour as an opportunity for learning.
  • Act as an example:

“If we want our children to learn to control their behaviour, then we have to learn to control ours. We are the adults.”

4.2 – The 4 mistaken goals of the child, as explained in “Positive Discipline”

When they are discouraged, children have inappropriate behaviour and tend towards what Dreikurs calls the “mistaken goals”. They are based on mistaken beliefs. There are four in total:

  1. Attention → I only count when you focus your attention on me.
  2. Power → I only feel that I belong when I am in a position of strength.
  3. Revenge → I feel like I don’t belong. I am in pain, but at least I can make others suffer too.
  4. Belief in incapacity → I can’t belong, or feel important or capable. It is simply impossible. I withdraw.

To summarise:

Understanding the 4 mistaken goals can help to decode the message behind the inappropriate behaviour. I just want to belong. This stage is crucial to facilitating the transmission of life skills and opening the door to well-being and change.

4.3 – The needs that are hiding behind inappropriate behaviour

  • The adult’s share of responsibility

Positive discipline helps us to look differently on the child’s inappropriate behaviour and see it as a message from a discouraged child. We can offer them the tools that help respond to their actual needs.

According to Jane Nelson, there are two essential points:

  1. Firstly, accept your share of responsibility in the inappropriate behaviour (without unnecessary guilt or being judgemental).
  2. Respond to the four mistaken goals of the child through encouragement.

Most adults don’t want to be positive when a child is behaving badly. Many adults are not always aware that they are contributing to the appearance of the inappropriate behaviour in one way or another. They are therefore not inclined to recognise their share of responsibility in the equation – how their own behaviour is affecting that of the child. This awareness without judgement is a major step towards conflict resolution.

  • A key to identifying the belief behind the behaviour

Jane Nelsen presents the Key to identifying the belief behind the behaviour. She believes that this table is absolutely fundamental, because it allows parents to decode the beliefs and hidden needs of their children. They can then manage them better, simply by analysing their own feelings:

Key to identifying the belief behind the behaviour

Jane Nelsen also offers another table in which she develops a comprehensive method to respond to the coded messages behind the four mistaken goals of children. The author explains in a concrete manner and in some detail what actions the parent/teacher can put in place. She offers phrases that they can use to encourage the child and offer an appropriate response in line with the four following directions:

  • Notice me → Involve me
  • Let me contribute → Give me choices
  • Help me → I am suffering inside
  • Don’t let me fall → Hold out your hand

4.4 – The importance of knowing how to identify mistaken goals

Identifying the mistaken goals of children is a delicate exercise that requires attention and discernment. There are two clues to help you notice them:

  • First clue: what the adult feels about the behaviour

This involves:

    • asking yourself: “What am I feeling?” “What is just behind the anger I am feeling?”
    • Then refer to the Key to identifying the belief behind the behaviour. It describes the principle emotions felt by the adults.
  • Second clue: the reaction of the child when the adult reacts to the inappropriate behaviour and not the underlying need

This involves:

    • Asking yourself: “How is the child responding to my reaction?”
    • Then refer to the various different responses of the child as described in the Key to identifying the belief behind the behaviour.

4.5 – Tools for encouragement in relation to mistaken goals

Here, Jane Nelsen lists many ways to put an end to inappropriate behaviour using the tools for encouragement cards. There is a detailed card to respond to each mistaken belief.

In response to the goal:

  • Claim undue attention

Encouraging the child will satisfy this need and make the inappropriate behaviour unnecessary.

What we can do with the child:

    • Redirect to allow the child to contribute.
    • Give some responsibility
    • Do something surprising (a big hug, for example)
    • Establish a regular schedule of dedicated time and undivided attention
    • Smile to show you “get it” without getting drawn into the game.
    • Use non-verbal communication previously established together.
    • Avoid preferential treatment
    • Reassure and show trust
    • Ignore the inadequate behaviour by placing your hand on the child’s shoulder in an attentive manner.
    • When harmony is restored, look together for appropriate ways to attract attention (using words instead of tears)
    • Act without talking.
    • Express words of love and the interest you have in the child
  • Misguided power

Seeking power is not a bad thing in itself, on condition that it points in the right direction.

What we can do with the child:

    • Step back from the conflict until the situation calms down Recognise that you cannot force the child to do what he or she is refusing to do. Ask for help to find a solution, taking each person’s needs into account.
    • Use the “4 Steps to winning a child’s cooperation” (described above).
    • Redirect towards constructive use of power.
    • Involve the child in the search for solutions.
    • Decide what you are going to do, and not what you want the child to do.
    • Establish a regular schedule of moments dedicated exclusively to the child.
    • Involve the child in creating routines and let the routine “be the boss”.
    • Offer choices, but appropriate and firm choices.
    • Suggest adding the problem to the order of business at the next Family Meeting or Class Meeting (described below)
    • Express love and the interest you have in him verbally.
  • Revenge

When a child suffers because of feelings of inferiority revenge may seem like a good option. Getting even combats feelings of powerlessness and injustice.

What we can do with the child:

    • Do not answer back. Break the circle of revenge. Remain kind and wait for the tension to abate.
    • Try to understand why the child feels hurt and demonstrate empathy.
    • Express your own emotions in an explicit way.
    • Actively listen. Verbalise your understanding of the situation, without judging or trying to change perceptions. Ask curiosity questions. Understand the child’s point of view without immediately talking about your own.
    • Use the 3 Rs to make amends (described earlier) if you are involved in the problem.
    • Use the “4 Steps to win a child’s cooperation” (described earlier).
    • After a time out, look for a way to solve the problem together.
    • Dedicate some time to spend with the child.
    • Express love and the interest you have in the child verbally.
  • Confirm a sense of inadequacy

The child is not inadequate or incapable, but will continue to behave this way until such time as the mistaken belief changes.

What we can do with the child:

    • Reassure the child that we understand what he or she is feeling, because we also feel discouraged from time to time: “connection”.
    • Take time to bolster learning together.
    • Be the model for one of the steps that he or she can reproduce.
    • Do things with the child, not for the child. Create opportunities for small victories.
    • Identify skills (even small ones) and strengths.
    • Recognise each positive attempt
    • Eliminate any expectation of perfection Do not give up.
    • Dedicate shared time with him.
    • Encourage him to choose a friend or classmate who can help him
    • Express love and the interest you have in the child verbally.

4.6 – Revealing the mistaken goals: a sharing tool

When the child becomes aware of the mistaken goals and the strategies he or she is using to achieve their ends, the inappropriate behaviour will lose its interest.

To get to this point, Jane Nelsen offers an interesting tool that uses the curiosity questions. You must use this tool in an objective manner, with kindness, without conflict. Take advantage of a quiet moment alone with the child. The author describes in detail how to decipher the child’s responses.

At the end of the chapter, Jane Nelsen brings up the special case of teenagers. They may have a new mistaken goal – peer approval.

Chapter 5 – Beware of logical consequences and focus on solutions to make amends

When punished, most children will stop their inappropriate behaviour, at least for a while. This may naturally lead us to believe that the punishment is effective. But what about the long-term effects of the punishment? Imposing a punishment puts us into a relationship of vertical authority. As long as adults take “winning” to heart, they will make their children losers and put them in a position of inferiority.

As alternative tools to punishment, Positive Discipline offers two concepts. There are “natural” consequences and “logical” consequences.

5.1 – Natural consequences

  • What is a natural consequence?

This involves letting the child experience the natural consequences of his or her choices. If we go out in the rain, we get wet. If we refuse to eat, we feel hungry. And if we don’t wear a coat in winter, we feel cold…

A natural consequence happens without adult intervention. It is very important not to add blame or make the child feel guilty (e.g.: “I told you so”) to reap the benefits.

  • Kindness, a criteria for effectiveness

This method is even more effective when the adult demonstrates empathy and understanding: “I guess it must be painful to feel hungry (get wet, get a bad grade, lose your bike, etc.).” When this is justified, you can also add: “I love you and I know you are going to work this out. I’m sure you can make it to teatime.”

  • The 3 cases in which natural consequences cannot apply: 
    1. When the child is in danger
    2. When the natural consequences are incompatible with the rights of others
    3. And when the result does not affect the child.

5.2 – Logical consequences

  • What is a logical consequence?

Logical consequences, in contrast to natural consequences, require adult intervention, or the intervention of another child in the family or the class. The basic principle is that privileges come with responsibilities. The adult will let the child experience the consequences of his or her choices:

    • Privilege = Responsibility
    • Absence of responsibility = Privilege withdrawal

Example: Having toys is a privilege. The responsibility that goes with this privilege is to take care of your toys. The logical consequence of not accepting this responsibility is the loss of the privilege.

  • The 4 essential “Rs” of logical consequences

The logical consequence must be:

    1. Related: it is logically related to the behaviour
    2. Respectful: it is put in place with firmness and kindness and should not involve devaluing, guilt or humiliation.
    3. Reasonable: it must be proportional and seem fair to both the child and the adult
    4. Revealed in advance: the child knows the “rules of the game” (or knows what the adult will do) if he or she chooses inappropriate behaviour.

We must always pay attention so that the chosen logical consequence is not a punishment in disguise.

Jane Nelsen recommends only using logical consequences in certain rare and targeted situations, and under the conditions necessary for them to remain encouraging. If one of the 4 “Rs” is missing, it is no longer a helpful or even genuinely educational logical consequence. The child may easily fall into one of the 4 “Rs” of punishment (resentment, revenge, rebellion, retreat).

To sum up, the following is essential:

Realise the difference between imposing consequences on a child (he’s going to pay for what he did) and allowing a child to experience the consequences of his or her choices (he or she will learn from the experience). There is a big difference between the two.

5.3 – Navigating natural and logical consequences to move towards solutions

In contrast to punitive methods, logical consequences help children to develop self-discipline and a sense of cooperation. However, they are not the right response to most mistaken goals and are often not the best way to resolve a problem. That is why it is preferable to turn towards the solutions.

Chapter 6 – Focusing on solutions

Traditional discipline teaches children what they should not do, or what they should do to comply with a submissive model. With positive discipline, children become actors for change. They learn self-discipline and how to make appropriate and respectful choices, even in the absence of an adult. The central value here is cooperation.

6.1 – Looking for solutions is a dynamic process

Looking for solutions is a tool that allows everyone to share what is important to them. It also teaches a sense of responsibility and problem-solving. In this spirit, the mistake or the incident becomes a genuine learning opportunity.

  • The 3 “Rs” and the “H”

A solution must be:

  1. Related to the problem,
  2. Respectful,
  3. Reasonable,
  4. Helpful, in other words it is useful and teaches something (turning the incident into a learning opportunity).
  • Solutions compared to logical consequences

Jane Nelsen gives several interesting examples to understand the difference between solutions and logical consequences. Here is one:

A class of 5th graders wants to resolve the following situation. Two pupils regularly come in late from the break because they don’t pay attention to the bell.

    • The list of proposals from the children when they reason in terms of logical consequences is as follows:
      • Dock a good behaviour point from the pupils who are late
      • Make them write their names on the board
      • Make them stay in class after school for a period of time equivalent to their lateness
      • Take away a period of time equivalent to their lateness from their next break
      • Deny them break time tomorrow. Reprimand them.
    • Their  proposals when they are asked to offer solutions to help the pupils in question are as follows:
      • Everyone can shout “Bell!” at the same time.
      • The two pupils can play closer to the bell or watch for the moment when the other pupils in the class go inside.
      • We could turn up the volume of the bell.
      • Each of the two pupils could form a team with another child who will let them know when the break is over.
      • Sometime could just tap them on the shoulder when break-time is over.
  • Who chooses the solution?

The child with the inappropriate behaviour – after eliminating the disrespectful or unrealistic solutions – chooses the solutions that appears most helpful to him or her. In this case, it is vital to trust the children’s capacity to resolve their own problems.

6.2 – Other tools that facilitate the search for solutions

  • Time out

The time out must:

    • Allow the children to recover their capacity to reason
    • Be a period of time that is conducive to the search for solutions.

Jane Nelsen warns us about the fact that isolating a child and ordering them to think about their behaviour can have a negative effect. In the heat of the moment, they may feel resentment or a desire for revenge. They could use the time to draw up strategies to avoid getting caught the next time. They may think that they deserve what they get, that they are not good enough, that they are worthless.

Positive discipline” presents four ways to avoid this:

    1. Explain to the child how to use the time out. It is never a punishment; it is a space to reconnect.
    2. Let the child create her own “Time Out” space, with just one request – to feel better there (the objective being to feel better in order to act better). She can do whatever she likes to calm down (read, play, rest, listen to music).
    3. Offer the child the choice of going to the “Time out” space (Would it help if you went to the time out space?): this naturally places her in a position of responsibility.
    4. Tell her that when she feels better, she can look for a solution or use the  4 “Rs” to make amends” (described above).
  • Curiosity questions

This exercise consists of “questioning” instead of “telling”. The adult uses curiosity questions to help the child explore the consequences of his or her choices.

Some examples:

    • “Don’t forget your coat” becomes: “It looks cold outside. What can you put on to feel warm?”
    • “Go brush your teeth” becomes: “What do you have to do to have clean teeth?” or “What do you need to remember to not get fillings?”
    • “Go to bed” becomes: “What time did we decide is your bedtime?”
  • The Wheel of Choice

This is a visual aid that presents different solutions to handling a problem in a fun way. It can be a very helpful tool on condition that the child contributes to making it.

Chapter 7 – Using encouragement effectively

7.1 – What does “encourage” mean?

Encouragement is at the heart of the methods and tools of positive discipline.

An encouraged child is a child who thinks: I am capable, I can participate, I can have an influence on what happens to me and how to react to what happens to me.

7.2 – The differences between “complimenting” and “encouraging”

Complimenting and encouraging lead to very different effects in the long term:

  • Compliments risk making children dependant on adult approval and the opinion of others → the child’s frame of reference is external.
  • Encouragement contributes to long-term development and self-confidence → the child’s frame of reference is internal.

The results:

  • On self-esteem
    • From a compliment: the child only feels valued by the approval of others.
    • From encouragement: the child feels valued without necessarily receiving the approval of others.
  • In the long-term:
    • From a compliment: dependence on others.
    • From encouragement: self-confidence, self-assurance.

Jane Nelsen presents a table that clarifies more precisely the difference between a compliment and encouragement:

7.3 – How to make encouragement effective, according “Positive Discipline

  • “Reach the heart before reaching the head”

It is essential that we connect with the child to encourage effectively. This means that we have to listen to the child, enter into her world and take her needs seriously.

Jane Nelsen suggests two connection tools that may help us:

1. First tool: dedicated time

Dedicated time is a bubble of unconditional love, being there for the other person, shared joy. It is one of the most encouraging things that parents can do for their children – spend regular, scheduled time with them “just for the children”.

Dedicated time:

    • Is regular and planned in advance with each of the children.
    • Is not compulsory, nor occasional.
    • Should be adjusted depending on the age of the child (before the age of 2, between 2 and 6, between 6 and 12, teenage years).
    • Cannot be withdrawn because of inappropriate behaviour: it is not a reward or a privilege. It is an essential moment for a child to flourish.

Dedicated time is a tool for encouragement because:

    • Knowing that you count in the eyes of other people develops feelings of belonging and importance.
    • It is a time for loving our children and treating ourselves (reminding ourselves that having children is a source of joy).
    • When a child demands attention, it is a way to postpone satisfying this need in a respectful way.

2. Second tool: the affectionate gesture

    • Part of a relationship of mutual respect

This requires:

    • Being an example to create this state of mind in the child.
    • Putting yourself in the child’s place.
    • Listening without judging, with the sole objective of understanding.
    • Sharing what you are feeling using “I”.
    • Value initiatives and actively involve the child, in particular in problem solving, using curiosity questions (for example, instead of telling the child to tidy the kitchen, you can ask: “Can you see anything else we could do to make the kitchen look tidy?”)

3. Start with strengths and focus on the process for improvement

    • Identify the child’s strengths, qualities and skills and help him to use them in a useful and constructive way.
    • Focus on the process for improvement:
      • Recognise progress, not perfection.
      • Practice joint problem solving to find respectful solutions in the areas that need improvement.
    • Take the time to teach: communicate clearly your expectations as a parent/teacher, and explain what the necessary means and stages are to get there.

4. Redirect the child’s inappropriate behaviour

There is strength hidden inside every inappropriate behaviour. We need to discover it to make it a tool for change.

Example: turbulent children also have leadership qualities. Remarking on this may redirect their energy in a constructive way.

  • Change the way we look on a mistake
    • Teach the child to consider mistakes as opportunities for learning.
    • Reflect with the child about the different ways to make up for mistakes.

Being able to fix mistakes does not just integrate the fact that the mistake is part of the learning process. It also teaches a child to have a sense of responsibility. This allows him to accept the consequences of his behaviour without the fear of humiliation. He will feel encouraged to do better. This makes it a good guilt-free space.

5. Encourage self-assessment and autonomy

Here Jane Nelsen explains, using examples:

    • How to ask a child to self-assess.
    • The importance of routines in developing autonomy: it is essential to involve children in the creation of these routines and to warn them in advance if there is any change in how they work

The routine takes control and the adult is freed from “telling them” (asking) and “making them do things”.

7.4 – The obstacles to encouragement

If we want to encourage a child, positive discipline advises us to avoid:

  • Instinctive reactions;
  • Punishment;
  • Doing things at the wrong moment – (as an example, the time out is a chance for everyone to calm down);
  • Social pressure, the fear of how others perceive us and the fear of being judged;
  • Criticism that points out weaknesses and imperfections: we are looking to build and improve on strengths.

Chapter 8 – Family Meetings, explained in “Positive Discipline”

8.1 – What is a Family Meeting and what are the benefits?

The Family Meeting is a regular and scheduled opportunity lasting 15 to 30 minutes per week to learn how to get along in a positive manner. It is a chance to focus together on the solutions that make it easier to enjoy living together and develops the social skills required for each family member to thrive.

  • The 4 essential goals of Family Meetings 

    • Appreciate each other, thank each other, compliment each other.
    • Help each other.
    • Resolve problems and find solutions.
    • Enjoy time together, plan events, activities and outings as a family.
  • The 9 benefits of Family Meetings

    1. Develop feelings of belonging and importance.
    2. Create a special setting in which to develop the “7 essential perceptions and skills for positive discipline” (described above).
    3. Encourage a family atmosphere based on cooperation rather than competition.
    4. Learn to express gratitude
    5. Find solutions together to the recurrent problems in family life by making use of the incredible creativity of children.
    6. Transfer the skills acquired
    7. Strengthen family values and traditions while respecting each person’s point of view during discussions.
    8. Do not handle problems in the heat of the moment. Put the incidents on the agenda of the family meeting.
    9. Use mistakes as opportunities for learning, making amends and doing better.

It is vital:

    • To use this tool with mutual respect.
    • That nobody takes control of the Family Meeting, neither the children nor the parents.
    • To enjoy this time as a family first and foremost.

8.2 – How to set up a Family Meeting

  • Set the frequency of the meetings: Family Meetings take place once a week and last 15 to 30 minutes. Nothing can disturb this family time, whether a telephone call or an  important task to do.
  • Choose a suitable location: sitting at a table (not mealtimes) helps to stay focused on the search for solutions. Another option is sitting in a circle in the living room, although there is a greater risk of distractions.
  • Define the decision-making process: decisions are the fruit of a consensus at family meetings.
  • Cross-reference everyone’s timetable: family meetings are often an excellent opportunity to coordinate the schedules for the week ahead. This way, each person’s activities and obligations find a harmonious spot in the orchestration of the life of the family.

8.3 – A Family Meeting in 5 steps

  1. The attribution of each person’s role (each member of the family takes turns being president and secretary);
  2. A round of compliments;
  3. The order of business;
  4. The search for solutions;
  5. Schedule enjoyable family time for the coming week;

It is possible to add some discussion time with a view to anticipating daily problems. Who does which household chore (cooperation from the children will be easier if they are involved in planning who is responsible for the chores).

Family Meetings work within any family structure. You simply need to adjust them to fit certain special cases (children under the age of 4, teenagers, single parents). Jane Nelsen offers several ideas and points us in the direction of some of her other books for more details (“Positive Discipline for Teenagers” and “Positive Discipline for Single Parent Families“).

Family meetings are effective whatever the family structure and whether there is one or there are several children. Cooperation, the search for solutions, along with the expression of gratitude and sharing positive feelings are constants that are not conditioned by these criteria.

8.5 – Some activities to spice up the Family Meetings

  • Come up with a family “motto”: every month, a different family member chooses the motto. During the family meeting, think about how to turn the motto into actions during the week.
  • Create thank you pages: everyone writes down the thank you that come into their mind every day, before sharing them out loud during the next meeting.
  • Make compliment sheets: this helps us learn how to see what is positive in other people and to let them know.
  • Have fun: each family member can complete a template that the author calls the “fun activities sheet”. It lists the activities we can do as a family, as a couple, alone, with or without requiring a budget, etc. It is also possible to make a “fun box” that contains all the suggestions. Each week someone pulls out one activity to plan for.
  • Share mistakes and what they teach us: each member of the family can complete a template that the author calls “my mistakes and what they taught me”. You can then file the sheets in the Family Meeting album (the children will probably find it very funny to read them again as adults).
  • Plan meals together: the possibilities are limitless; you can choose recipes together, make teams of “chefs”, choose a theme or a colour, share tasks, etc.

8.6 – Summary of the social skills that Family Meetings teach

Family Meetings teach children about:

  • Listening;
  • Sharing ideas;
  • Problem solving and the importance of taking a breather before solving a problem;
  • Mutual respect;
  • Taking an interest in others, the ability to see things from another person’s point of view;
  • Cooperation;
  • Social responsibility;
  • Taking responsibility in a kind environment;
  • Choosing solutions that respect each person’s needs;
  • Developing a sense of belonging and importance;
  • Using mistakes as opportunities for learning;

Family Meetings offer parents the opportunity to:

  • Avoid power struggles by sharing control in a respectful way (cooperation);
  • Encourage self-discipline;
  • Listen in a way that invites the children to listen too;
  • Share responsibilities respectfully;
  • Create good memories by establishing family traditions;
  • Be an example of the skills that they will want to pass on to their own children.

Chapter 9 – Class Meetings, explained in “Positive Discipline”

9.1 – Definition, objectives and benefits of Class Meetings

  • Definition of class meetings

The Class Meeting is a regular, scheduled meeting devoted to learning social skills that are just as important as academic knowledge and necessary for a child to flourish. This time can have different names: “Class meeting”, “circle”, “council”, “class discussion”, “group”, “class life”, etc.

  • The objectives and benefits of class meetings, to :
    • Teach mutual respect and mutual assistance
    • Show appreciation for and thank others for their contribution
    • Learn to not manage problems in the heat of the moment
    • Resolve problems by finding solutions that respect everyone
    • Learn to listen, to find the right words, to reflect and demonstrate discernment
    • Involve pupils in creating a framework that concerns them
    • Go beyond logical consequences
    • Reduce disciplinary problems
    • Accentuate the positive
    • Enjoy time together and plan school events, activities and outings.

When we encourage pupils to “think outside the box”, this can unleash their creativity. They are incredibly talented at finding solutions.

9.2 – What is a successful class meeting?

  • Three recommendations to avoid obstacles 
    1. A class meeting must never be used to send messages. The teachers are involved in a kind and neutral way. However, like each of the participants, they can add a subject or a problem to the order of business.
    2. The teacher must not exercise control over the pupils, but encourage cooperation among them.
    3. Do not get discouraged. Successfully setting up class meetings is a process.
  • Eight essential approaches for an effective class meeting
    1. Form a circle
    2. Practice giving compliments, offering thanks and appreciations
    3. Respect differences
    4. Develop communication skills
    5. Focus on the solutions (avoid logical consequences)
    6. Practice role play and collective thinking
    7. Create an order of business and a format to stick to during class discussions
    8. Identify the reasons why you are taking action (in line with the 4 mistaken goals)

9.3 – Practical guide to class meetings

  • Choose how often to hold them

In primary school, the best is to hold one class meeting per day (or at least three times a week). In secondary school, you can stick to just once a week

  • Establish the order of business together

The order of business can be a list on the board or written in a book that everyone has access to. The advantage of the book is that it is a record of the different problems encountered over the course of the year and the solutions found.

  • Form a circle

The circle is the symbol of belonging. Sitting in a circle facilitates discussions and cooperation. The teacher is not there to teach. Everyone sits at the same level.

  • Follow a defined format and develop specific skills

Once they are old enough to do this, the pupils will be in charge of moderating the class meeting. Jane Nelsen suggests a format in 5 parts:

    • Part 1: compliments, appreciation and thanks

It is important to explain the concept and to facilitate the expression for the children using a model sentence. This can be: “I would like to compliment or thank (name of the person) for (a specific act from the person previously named)”. The talking stick goes from hand to hand. The child can express their appreciation or skip their turn. The person who receives the compliment simply says “Thank you”.

    • Part 2: look at the solutions and strategies previously established
    • Part 3: handle the topics on the order of business

Read out the topic. The pupil who put the subject on the order of business can ask to share and be listened to, or ask to discuss the subject without resolution or ask the class to help resolve the problem.

    • Part 4: look for solutions

To point them in the direction of solutions, you can ask the children: “Can you make suggestions that will help “x” take responsibility and learn from his mistakes? What ideas could help “x” to change her behaviour and get what she wants in an appropriate way?”

Use the talking stick (two rounds). Make a note of the suggestions (without comments from the teacher and without dropping any of them at this stage). Then they can be put to a vote (if the topic affects the whole class), or ask the pupil in question to choose the solution that he thinks will be most helpful.

    • Part 5: plan group activities as a class
  • Keep track of time

One suggestion by Jane Nelsen is to hold the meeting just before lunch, or a break, or to nominate a “time keeper” who will keep track of the time given to the class meeting.

9.4 – Expected teacher attitudes and skills for a class meeting

  • Step back and let cooperation take your place
  • Be an example of what you want to teach
  • Ask open questions (for example, if you find that the pupils are too noisy, you can say: “How many of you think that the class is getting too noisy?”).
  • Recognise your share of responsibility in the problem and ask for help.
  • Show objectivity, don’t judge and never remove an item from the order of business (pupils who feel that they can talk about everything without being judged will be open to discussions, and therefore to learning).
  • Look for the positive intention behind the behaviour

9.5 – Other suggestions for class meetings

  • Pupil  involvement in establishing the class meeting rules

Very often, the rules the pupils choose are almost identical to the ones the adult may impose, but the simple fact of choosing them themselves makes all the difference. It: 

    • Increases cooperation and mutual respect
    • Can be requested during a class meeting (“What rules do we need for the class in order to create a pleasant working environment and make people want to come to school?”) or in other situations, such as during a school trip (“What rules do we need for our school trip so that we can learn things in a good way?”).
    • Can be through posting the rules on the wall: just before the list of rules, you can write “We have decided that…”
  • The “secret pal” game

This game consists of guessing who is the “secret pal” (chosen randomly) based on each person’s positive actions. Jane Nelsen specifies what steps to follow so that the game takes place in a helpful and constructive way.

This kind of action, like many others, creates an immediate effect on the atmosphere in the class that is suddenly more jovial and friendly.

9.6 – Frequently asked questions about positive discipline in the classroom

To end this chapter, Jane Nelsen answers twenty of the questions most frequently asked by teachers during training on “Positive discipline in the classroom”.

The author points out that establishing trust can take time. Launching into an approach that breaks with habits that are sometimes punitive or that do not invite cooperation can lead, on the part of the pupils, to a test phase of the new approach. The author invites us to trust in the process and give it time to work.

The vocation of the class meeting as a tool is to build with many voices an atmosphere in the class that fosters learning and the pleasure of working together with cooperation and mutual respect. Many teachers bear witness to the benefits, not just for their pupils, but also for themselves. They say that they find renewed enjoyment in their educational role.

Chapter 10 – Personality – how yours affects theirs

This chapter of “Positive Discipline” asks us to reflect on how we operate. It involves becoming aware, as a parent or teacher, of how we have an impact on the personality of the children we are educating.

Jane Nelsen talks about “mirage priorities”. The Adler psychologist Nira Kefir lists 4 lifestyle priorities that the adult pursues:

  • Comfort
  • Control
  • Pleasing
  • A feeling of importance or superiority.

Each style is neither good nor bad. Each has its strengths and its weaknesses when it comes to interacting with the child. However, it influences the child’s decisions and behaviour and encourages the development of certain skills more than others.

10.1 – Our personalities and priorities 

  • The concepts of “priority” and “secondary” traits

According to Nira Kefir, our lifestyle reflects what can be called our “traits”. In general we have two traits:

    • The priority – or leading lifestyle → it covers all of the behaviour of an individual once he or she feels threatened or unsure about their need to belong and their sense of importance (contexts of crisis, conflict, emergency).
    • The secondary trait – or habitual lifestyle → it covers all of the behaviour of an individual when he or she has a sense of belonging and importance in their everyday life.
  • The four priority traits and the corresponding lifestyle

    • The “control” priority → arouses opposition in the child.

Excessive firmness does not allow a child to be involved in setting up rules and this can cause rebellion or retreat. For other children, the only way to be loved by their parent is to submit passively.

    • The “superiority” priority card → arouses feelings of being incapable in the child.

As the adult feels the need to be right in order to feel useful, they risk creating a feeling of inferiority in the child. How can the child feel up to the expectations of a parent who always knows how best to proceed? In the long term, the child can feel less valued, will disengage or, on the contrary, invest their all in order to excel.

    • The “comfort” priority card → can make children very demanding through the behaviour of a spoilt child.

By excessively valuing comfort, the adult neglects the value for the child of having boundaries. The freedom of action given to the child can lead to a belief that they can act with no limits or without taking social rules into account.

    • The “pleasing” priority card → can end up being annoying or inviting the child to take advantage of it.

In the adult’s efforts to please, their behaviour may communicate the following belief to the child: “I only belong when others take care of me and respond to all my desires.”

  • What we fear for ourselves is sometimes what we invite in the child

It is interesting to observe that when an individual is in a stressful situation, he or she adopts behaviour that often causes the opposite effect to the one sought. However, we can considerably improve our relationship with our children by becoming aware of our resources and our failings. We can allow ourselves to self-deprecate.

10.2 – How is our lifestyle personality constructed?

  • Our leading lifestyle is determined by our priority trait

Jane Nelsen describes the different priority lifestyles that the adult acquires according the child’s beliefs. This internal logic is unconscious. It is constructed from birth and rooted in our personality until the end of our life. Each style is defined by a dominant trait, called the “priority”.

For Jane Nelsen:

Knowing and understanding the priority of our lifestyle allows us to make the appropriate changes to it. It is also the opportunity to be attentive to the future lifestyle of our children, the priorities that they install and to better understand their reactions whenever they feel fragile or vulnerable.

  • Identify your priority lifestyle to understand how you operate

Among the following statements, the one that best matches what we feel personally, our state our mind, identifies the priority of our leading lifestyle.

Therefore, my priority is:

    • Pleasing, if I feel:
      • Better when I avoid conflicts to make things easier and enjoy the moment.
      • Worse when I feel excluded, rejected or under-appreciated.
    • Control, if I feel:
      • Better when things are organised, orderly, predictable, when I am in control of the situation and I control my emotions.
      • Worse when I have the impression that I have been caught out, criticised, humiliated or judged for something that I should have known or that I didn’t do.
    • Superiority, if I feel:
      • Better when I am in a situation of success or when my contribution is valued.
      • Worse when I have the impression that I have nothing to add, or that I am not useful or incompetent.
    • Comfort, if I feel:
      • Better when the people around me feel good, happy and at ease.
      • Worse when there are tensions, unhappiness or when I am in a stressful situation.

10.3 – The priorities in the light of parenting and teaching styles

In this chapter of “Positive Discipline”, Jane Nelsen presents a table that acts as a tool to understand and become aware of our priority operating lifestyles. The table analyses:

  • The advantages and failings of our dominant style:
  • What this priority may arouse in children, both positive and negative;
  • Our room for progress and possible improvements.

Chapter 11 – Putting it all together / Love and joy in homes and classrooms

11.1 – Some essential items in the toolbox

In this part of “Positive Discipline”, Jane Nelsen returns to some of the tools that presented earlier in a practical and more in-depth way, such as:

  • Use the time out because we are better when we feel better 

To do this, the author explains two ways to practice time outs: the bathroom technique (for the parents: physically leave the conflict area) and the book technique (for teachers: emotionally leave the conflict area).

  • Decide what you are going to do and not what you are going to make the child do

Acting in a kind and firm way is often much more effective than long speeches. For example, rather than finding a way to make children put their dirty laundry in the laundry basket, we can simply decide to only wash the clothes that are in the basket. The children will soon understand the consequences (natural) – they won’t have any clean clothes when they need them. However, do warn the children in advance about what you are going to do.

  • Involve children in routines to avoid power struggles

Routines can be displayed in words or in pictures depending on the age group. They can change over time and they make everyday life easier through cooperation. They are particularly useful in the morning, in the evening and at mealtimes.

  • Do not get involved in arguments between children (or if you do get involved, treat all the children in the same way)

As the main goal of arguments is to attract an adult’s attention, they tend to become less frequent when the adult stops intervening. That is why the author recommends keeping out of them. If, despite this, you do get involved for one reason or another, it is recommended to do so without taking sides and without trying to determine which child is responsible for the dispute. Or, you can ask what the initiator of the conflict is feeling, then ask for their help in comforting the person who got hurt. Humour also works very well in these situations.

  • Use non-verbal communication: agree on a signal to avoid repeating yourself

  • Offer choices instead of making demands

The alternatives to the choice on offer have to be acceptable to the adult. The child may refuse the alternatives on offer and suggest something else. If the solution:

    • is acceptable: there is no problem;
    • is not acceptable: simply remind the child that their suggestion is not one of the choices (“Your choice is between this and this – you decide”).

Children do not get to choose in every situation, for example when it comes to homework. Do, however, get them involved in the “how and when”. This is a way to involve them in decisions and help them to become responsible.

  • Use framed options such as “As soon as… we can…“

Examples:

    • As soon as you have tidied your toys, we can go to the park” → this way of speaking is often more effective than: “If you put away your toys, we will go to the park.”
    • As soon as you are ready, we can begin the lesson.”
  • Use money as an educational tool

Do not use pocket money to reward or punish, or to force children to perform a task. Use it to teach financial responsibility and to learn the value of money.

  • See mistakes as an opportunity for learning and be compassionate towards yourself

The sentiment behind the act is more important than the act itself. Be patient with yourself. Taking time to learn, expressing your unconditional love and trust are capital.

11.2 – The essential concepts to remember about positive discipline

“The primary objective of positive discipline is to share more joy, harmony, cooperation, responsibilities, mutual respect and love in our relations with one another on a daily basis.”

  • Positive discipline is a path, learning is a process 
    • The most important thing is how we do things, even more important than what we do.
    • Mistakes are an opportunity to learn. Adopting this principle for ourselves helps our children to learn from their own mistakes.
    • Learning social skills is a process that requires training.
  • Whatever happens, positive discipline involves: 
    • Focusing on the positive in every situation
    • Trusting children
    • Starting with the principle that when a child behaves inappropriately, it is not because they want to be difficult, but because they don’t know how to behave to achieve their positive objectives. This may be due to a lack of skills or maturity. It is our job to help them through an attitude that aligns with the following thought: “I know you want to do the right thing. How can I help you?”
    • Express your unconditional love:

“Children need to know that they count more than anything they could do, that they are worth more than anything we possess.”

    • Connect before you correct.
    • Consolidate your knowledge and keep going.

To conclude, Jane Nelsen reiterates the fact that positive discipline is not synonymous with perfection:

“All these principles, all these tools do not guarantee perfection, just more joy and love along the way!”

Book critique of Positive Discipline” by Jane Nelsen

A novel look at the educational relationship

Positive Discipline” is a book that takes a new look at children and education. It offers a wealth of teachings.

It is not permissive and not punitive. Positive discipline is an alternative educational approach that has changed the lives of many parents and teachers. There are countless examples of very positive feedback from readers and teachers that have adopted this educational method. When they practice it, they notice that the atmosphere in the family or in the classroom transforms radically.

The keys to understanding what positive discipline offers for development and behaviour in children help us to adopt the right attitude. We can offer responses that respect everyone in situations in which many adults feel helpless.

Jane Nelson deciphers the real needs of children behind their behaviour. She also asks us to take our share of responsibility, as adults, in affecting their behaviour. The analysis of the way we function in the light of the author’s theoretical approach allows us to accept and even question ourselves without feeling devalued or guilty. This self-introspection even leads, on the contrary, to a certain self-confidence and freedom to make progress in our relationships. We can rise to the educational challenges to come and help our children to grow in the joy of educating.

A multitude of concrete educational tools that you can apply every day

In “Positive Discipline”, Jane Nelsen brings together a set of detailed tools that are easy to put into practice every day, at home or in school. When we reach the end of the book, we can see that these tools are based on:

    • Mutual respect in the parent/child relationship,
    • A heightened sense of belonging,
    • Children feeling more responsible and autonomous,
    • Encouragement, seeking cooperation and solutions,
    • And of course, kindness to respect the child’s world and firmness to respect the adult’s world.

These are the key words in the book and the key to the approach explained in “Positive Discipline”.

Very comprehensive informational content

Positive Discipline” is jam-packed with lots of detailed and practical information. There is a lot to learn in the book. This genuine handbook is worth reading twice as there is so much to take in.

The more theoretical aspects are made lighter by numerous examples and concrete situations. The information is boiled down into tables and tool boxes. Although it is very easy to read, the book is quite dense and does require a certain level of concentration.

Strong Points:

  • The concept of positive education handled in an in-depth and scientific way, but still within everyone’s reach.
  • The principles of positive discipline based on a respectful approach towards children and adults.
  • A wealth of very well-explained concrete information and tools. They are easy to put in place in a family setting or in the classroom.

Weak point:

  • Sometimes repetitious, no doubt because some of the basics have to be retained at every level and in all fields of positive discipline (encouragement, responsibility, positivity, solution-based, etc.)
  • Sometimes the amount of advice and information requires a certain level of concentration.

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