42 - Positive Discipline Chapters 1 - 3

Post date: Dec 17, 2015 8:29:30 PM

Counselor Notes 42

December 4, 2015

Positive Discipline Chapters 1 - 3

For this school year, I had said that I wanted to delve into parenting using the books Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen Ed.D. and How To Raise An Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims.

For Counselor Notes #42, I am going to pass along some thoughts from the first three chapters of Positive Discipline. It would be a gross error to think that one newsletter is going to a great job covering three chapters of a book. So while I am passing along some highlights, I do hope it will create enough interest for parents to go out and get a copy of the book. (And read it! In one’s later years, it is a lot easier to find peace of mind if one feels they have been successful as a parent.)

Chapter 1: The Positive Approach

One of the more interesting things in this chapter is Dr. Nelsen assertion that kids growing up today are facing two changes that earlier generations did not face to the degree this one has. I found them interesting as I had not heard the differences in today’s children from earlier generations explained this way before and it makes some sense. The first is that “adults no longer give children an example or role model of submissiveness and obedience.” She also notes that this isn’t necessarily bad. Moms don’t have to be submissive to dads. As there has been progress towards equality of the sexes, so to has there been progress in equality among the races. (It is not my intention to get into a debate about how much room for improvement remains, just that things are better than they were say 50 years ago.)

The second factor Nelsen notes is that “in today’s society, children have fewer opportunities to learn responsibility and motivation. We no longer need children as important contributors to economic survival.”

Dr. Nelsen is big on the idea that to make a kid do better you don’t need to make them feel worse. Her four criteria of effective discipline (p. 16) are:

1. Is it kind and firm at the same time? (Respectful and encouraging

2. Does it help children feel a sense of belonging and significance? (Connection)

3. Is it effective long-term? (Punishment works in the short term, but has negative long term results.)

4. Does it teach valuable social and life skills for good character?

Chapter 2: Some Simple Concepts

Four Steps for Winning Cooperation

1. Express understanding for the child’s feelings. Be sure to check with him or her to see if you are right.

2. Show empathy without condoning. Empathy does not mean you agree or condone. It simply means that you understand the child’s perception. A nice touch here is to share times when you felt or behaved similarly.

3. Share your feelings and perceptions. If the first two steps have been done in a sincere and friendly manner, the child will be ready to listen to you.

4. Invite the child to focus on a solution. Ask if he/she has any idea on what to do in the future to avoid the problem. If he doesn’t, offer some suggestions until you can reach an agreement.

A child’s primary goal is to belong and to feel significant.

A misbehaving child is a discouraged child.

Make sure that the message of love gets through.

Chapter 3: The Significance of Birth Order

This chapter focuses on the impact a child’s spot in the birth order has. The oldest child has a slightly different situation growing up than would the youngest. Only children face some different factors. In a family of three children, middle children have some unique factors impacting them. The impact of the birth order often is overlooks and it shouldn’t be. Those interested in reading more on this can get a great deal of information from this chapter. There are plenty of sources on the web regarding the influence of birth order on your child’s personality. Here are three:




The next issue of the notes will cover Chapters 4 through 6. It should be out before the winter break. In the mean time, those that want to learn more a little more about Positive Discipline may want to visit Dr. Nelsen’s web page may find it at: http://www.positivediscipline.com/

Doug Muha Ed.S.

School Counselor

Waverly Elementary School