Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Is Positive Discipline Permissive?


I love your books! They have taught me so much about parenting in a non putative way, very different from the way I was raised. I have two daughters 12 and 14, and my husband has two sons 11 and 15. He has an authoritarian mindset when it comes to discipline, and I am using the Positive Discipline techniques I learned from you. My daughters are used to the positive approaches I use, and when we blended they were shocked and resentful of their stepfather's approach. I have shown him your book and he agrees with some things, but other things he thinks are ridiculous, that they are too permissive and lets children do what they want. I have expressed my concerns with his approach with my daughters but he feels he should not have to change. I then resorted to asking him to just back off from disciplining my daughters because I am uncomfortable with his methods, and that I would handle the disciplining of the girls, and he refused. I am getting no where. Any thoughts?

I tried to find your book, Positive Discipline for Blended Families, but couldn't find it anywhere. Where can I get a copy?




It is a common mistake for some to believe that Positive Discipline is permissive. In fact, many parents who are so against punishment may become permissive. However, I believe that permissiveness could be even more harmful to kids than punishment. Permissiveness creates weakness in children. They don't develop beliefs in their own capability and resiliency. They develop attitudes of entitlement and are very unpleasant to be around. They seem to think the world "owes them." They don't learn important social and life skills for self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation, respect for others, and problem-solving skills. So, I can certainly understand your husbands reluctance to go the permissive route. I'm not sure how to convince him that Positive Discipline is not permissive.

It might help if he read the article titled, "I was punished, and I turned out fine" that can be found at

Julie it might help if he understood that kindness and firmness are equally important in Positive Discipline. It might help if he understood that punishment is designed to make kids "pay" for what they have done, while Positive Discipline is designed to help children "learn" from what they have done by focusing on solutions. Positive Discipline helps children learn to use their power in "useful" ways through family meetings, choices, and focusing on solutions, so they don't use their power to rebel.

Most parents don't realize that even though punishment works short term to stop misbehavior, it has damaging long-term results in that children are left with a sense of doubt and shame or resentment and revenge. Parents don't understand that brain and how much more effective it is to wait until everyone has had time to calm down before discussing a problem. They don't understand how important it is to create a "connection before correction." Many research studies have shown that a sense of connection is the number one predictor of "good" behavior.

One other thing we point out in Positive Discipline for Step Families, is that both parents can feel comfortable engaging in discipline (not just the birth parent), when the discipline they use is kind and firm at the same time with a focus on teaching valuable social and life skills while helping children feel capable with the sense of self work in tact.

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