Saturday, March 7, 2009

Different Parenting Styles


Do you have any information that addresses the issue of differing parent styles in the home. ie one parent wants to use the positive parent style but the other wants to use rewards and punishments to control? What can the positive discipline parent do to when dealing with the issues that result from an "anti positive discipline" parenting style?

Thank you


Since so many people ask this question, I wrote the following:


It is interesting to note that two people with these opposing philosophies often get married. One has a tendency to be just a little too lenient. The other has a tendency to be just a little too strict. Then the lenient parent thinks he or she needs to be just a little more lenient to make up for the mean old strict parent. The strict parent thinks he or she needs to be just a little more strict to make up for the wishy washy lenient parent—so they get further and further apart and fight about who is right and who is wrong. In truth they are both being ineffective.

One way to help children and parents learn effective communication is to have regular family meetings where they have an pportunity, on a weekly basis, to brainstorm for solutions to problems and to choose the solutions that are respectful to everyone. Focusing on solutions is one of the best ways for “opposites” to get closer together and be supportive of each other and their children, and is discussed in more detail in chapter six of Positive Discipline..

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Class Meetings—So Many Benefits

I feel passionately about the value of class meetings in schools and family meetings in homes to teach children many valuable social and life skills for good character. They learn to listen to each other and to value differences. They learn to help each other by focusing on solutions to problems that are respectful to all concerned. They learn that they can be accountable for their mistakes because they won’t experience blame or shame. Instead they will get help from their fellow students during the brainstorming process for solutions. They can then choose the solutions they think will be most helpful.

However, class meetings aren’t about perfection. They don’t provide magic pills that solve all problems immediately. Learning the skills for effective class meetings takes time just as reading, writing, and arithmetic take time—and when practiced skills improve and deepen.

The following Q and A provides an example of the joys and frustrations that can be experienced when first implementing class meetings.

Class Meetings Working Except for One Child


We implemented the class meeting format in November and the kids love it. They are coming up with real strategies that are helping one another. I have a lot of confidence and am happy with the results with most of the children except for one. A young girl age 6, grade 2, youngest child. She has difficultly dealing with other children and often displays a goal of Misguided Power or Revenge. She is often violent with the other children. I have started sharing special time with her, and giving her purposeful jobs that allow her to play a positive helper role with the other kids.

I myself however am still confused. You talk about firmness. When she acts out violently I let her know that the behavior is unacceptable and ask if she needs some time to cool off. She is often able to apologize after and can see that her behavior was inappropriate. I feel that the violence is not getting better. The kids are all asking why she is not being held accountable for her actions. We discuss it at class meetings and the other kids identify her behavior as attention seeking and often offer to work with her or ask for her help but it doesn’t seem to be working. I am lost in my follow through here. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much



Hi Reagan,

In my experience, there is always one child in every classroom who decides to be the challenging student. If that child should happen to move, it seems that another child is happy to take that role.

I remember sitting in one classroom where "Phillip" was discussed in 3 of the 4 items on the agenda. I asked Phillip if he felt the kids were helping him or ganging up on him. He grinned and said they were helping him. Later I asked the teacher if he saw any improvement in Phillip. He admitted, "Not much, but a huge improvement in the other children. They used to see Phillip ask the scapegoat and blame him for everything. Now they really try to help him. Phillip gives them lots of opportunities to practice their skills.

Keep doing the wonderful things you are doing and focus on improvement instead of expecting perfection.

I would love to hear some examples of other problems that children have solved.

Jane Nelsen