Parenting is a continuous experience of Goldilocks. Which parenting porridge is too hot? Which is too cold?
The proponents of Positive Discipline
believe that their parenting porridge is the “just right” version. Positive Discipline helps parents raise young people who are responsible, respectful, and resourceful members of their communities.
Established by Dr. Jane Nelson in 1981, Positive Discipline is a globally recognized, evidence-based program geared towards parents, teachers, and other youth leaders. The positive discipline approach nurtures mutually respectful relationships by teaching adults to employ kindness and firmness at the same time, without being permissive or punitive.
“Children do not develop responsibility when parents and teachers are too strict and controlling, nor do they develop responsibility when parents and teachers are permissive,” Nelson said. “Children learn responsibility when they have opportunities to learn valuable social and life skills for good character in an atmosphere of kindness, firmness, dignity, and respect.”
The Positive Discipline parenting approach recognizes that strictness and punishment “works” at stopping misbehavior.
For the moment.
But Nelson created Positive Discipline from a foundational belief that this approach is shortsighted.
“We are often fooled by immediate results,” Nelson said. “Sometimes we must beware of what works when the long-term results are negative. The long-term results of punishment are that children usually adopt one or all of the ‘R’s of Punishment:’ 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.’”
Positive Discipline Parenting is guided by five principles:
- Exercise both kindness and firmness at the same time. (Respectful and encouraging)
- Help children feel a sense of belonging and significance. (Connection)
- Use techniques that are effective in the long-term. (Punishment works short term, but has negative long-term results)
- Teach valuable social and life skills for good character. (Respect, concern for others, problem-solving, accountability, contribution, cooperation)
- Invite children to discover how capable they are and to use their personal power in constructive ways.
The course offered to Ensworth parents will provide the most effective tools and concepts of Positive Discipline Parenting, including:
- Mutual respect. Adults model firmness by respecting themselves and the needs of the situation, and kindness by respecting the needs of the child.
- Identifying the belief behind the behavior. Effective discipline recognizes the reasons kids do what they do and works to change those beliefs, rather than merely attempting to change behavior.
- Effective communication and problem-solving skills.
- Discipline that teaches (and is neither permissive nor punitive).
- Focusing on solutions instead of punishment.
- Encouragement (instead of praise). Encouragement notices effort and improvement, not just success, and builds long-term self-esteem and empowerment.
Nelson asserts that children are like all human beings – they have their own realities. When we really understand the fact of separate realities, we will stop spending so much time and energy trying to change the reality of others.
Positive Discipline Parenting is rooted in the belief that effective parenting requires a deep understanding of the perceptions of your children, and an ability to “get into their world.”
“Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse?” Nelson said. “Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like cooperating or doing better?”
About the Positive Discipline Parenting trainer for Ensworth’s course:
Kelly Pfeiffer has been teaching the Positive Discipline parenting curriculum for 19 years and currently serves the Positive Discipline Association as a Lead Trainer. Kelly has trained a wide variety of audiences, including parents, foster parents, childcare providers, parents of children with ASDs, parent educators. and other professionals who work with children and families. Kelly has two adult children and two adult stepchildren and lives in South Carolina with her husband.
For more information about this course, please contact Lori Glenn, Chair of Ensworth’s Parent Education Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.