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Positive Discipline

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  3,237 ratings  ·  296 reviews
For twenty-five years, Positive Discipline has been the gold standard reference for grown-ups working with children. Now Jane Nelsen, distinguished psychologist, educator, and mother of seven, has written a revised and expanded edition. The key to positive discipline is not punishment, she tells us, but mutual respect. Nelsen coaches parents and teachers to be both firm an ...more
Paperback, 349 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Ballantine Books (first published 1981)
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Average rating 4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,237 ratings  ·  296 reviews

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Jan 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
This seemed to be just what I needed at this juncture with our children. Lots of core messages resonate strongly

-- A misbehaving child is a discouraged child
-- Children simply want belonging and significance
-- It is wrong to think that we must make children feel worse in order to do better.

And I could go on.

One challenge with a book like this is that you will still hunger for exactly the right words to use in your own situation. I've read it all the way through and still struggle for the right
Sep 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am re-reading this book after losing it on the bookshelf for 15 years. Wow! Why didn't I memorize it way back when? This should have been on my nightstand right along with my scriptures. I have very recently been researching how to have more meaningful discipline. I had already come to the understanding through my studies of Waldorf education and prayerful meditation that the child's soul is a tender and beautiful thing that needs careful nurturing and guidance. Harsh, humiliating punishments ...more
Sep 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
This is an interesting book on discipline using the Adlerian approach. It's a different way of thinking about raising kids than most people do naturally. It encourages parents and teachers to stop adding shame, blame, and pain to kids' misbehavior because that doesn't achieve the long-term results in character that parents have as the goal for their kids. I recommend this book--there's a whole series of them for all different life situations: one for preschoolers, one for classrooms, one for sin ...more
Apr 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
For those of you familiar with gospel principles, this book is full of them. Some one told me this lady is LDS, I don't know if it is true but her concepts support Christ-like ways. The theory of "positive discipline" stretched my mind and heart to new places about how I can parent more lovingly. Some of her one liners that are so true; "A misbehaving child is a discouraged child." When a child is misbehaving, the last thing they need is a spank. The misbehavior is a plea for love. Also, "We don ...more
Isabel Rebelo
A wonderful book with sound advice how to raise a child through encouragement and respect instead of criticism. The book teaches parents how to cope with bad behavior and how to disassociate ourselves, emotionally, from the child manipulation, so we can help them overcome their frustrations. As Jane Nelsen says, often children that are disruptive have leadership skills and parents can help the child by redirecting his/her behavior. She sees a misbehaving child as a discouraged child. I agree. Th ...more
Lacy Arnett Mayberry
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm a yeller. It's one of the things I hate about myself as a parent. But this book has legitimately helped me shift away from my crazytown. ...more
I bought this book 2-3 years ago, when my daughter's tantrum were starting to be too frequent and almost violent. I've since got help from a psychoeducator, and I will be forever grateful for all the work they did together. But the isolement provoked by the pandemic had bring the worst in my daughter, again. I've tried different approaches, and I could see that it worked for a while, but not for the long time... And then I though of this book. And I applied some things as I learned them. And IT ...more
Natalie Fetzer
"Kids do better when they feel better".

Good tools and mindset for helping kids do better. If you come from a controlling, authoritarian, punishment-based, this helps with what to do when the first line of positive discipline doesn't work. Breaking from the worry that you're letting your kids get away with something because you aren't engaging in punitive punishment, is a crucial mental shift.
Seth Roskos
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
OK, I haven't quite finished it yet, but this book has changed my life and more importantly changed my relationship with my kids. It is a must read for every parent. Would you like to hug your child instead of punishing him and in the process teach him to be a capable, confident problem solver? Put an end to power struggles? Understand what is appropriate behavior for each phase of a child's development? Do you know why your child acts up and whether your response only makes the situation worse. ...more
Daniel L.
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Winning Children Over Rather than Winning Over Children

In his 1923 classic, How to Love a Child, Janusz Korczak warned against relying on manuals when raising children; rather, the adult should listen and be attuned to both the children at hand and maintain an awareness of what it means and how it feels to be a child - in short, the ability to use one's empathy and moral sense to understand the life of the child by being able to see the world from a child's perspective.

Of the many books on "disc
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love the concept of the book and while haphazardly implementing what I was learning as I read, my daughter (5) endorsed the book. I saw her copying the cover and asked her what she was doing and she replied that she liked it. When I inquired why, she told me that I don't "yell" as much since I started reading it. And while I don't yell, I must raise my voice more than I realize (and more than I want to). So, I asked why she was copying the cover, I already have and am reading the book. She rep ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The most helpful parenting book I have read so far! The principles taught here are entirely new to me, as I grew up with very strict and controlling parents, but each chapter was detailed in a way that's easy to digest -- and really, they do make a lot of sense! There are things like family meetings that I still find it hard to apply in real life, as our child is still very young, but I am happy that I have unconsciously been applying some of the methods taught here already. Glad to have a hard ...more
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Some days it feels like all the advise of this book is just not for me. And that my kid is a special kind of child or i am an incompetent mother. And while all that can be true, those are just long days and the book is honestly trying help set a pattern of discipline and respect based on consistent work in a relationship. Its a great book and it cover many ages, and I am certainly coming back to it in the near future.
May 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baby
I borrowed this from the library; now I'm going to buy it so I can highlight and return to it often. ...more
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it

Based on teachings of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs

"The foundation for healthy self-esteem is the development by children of the belief "I am capable". Children don't develop this belief when parents do any of these things (do too much for them, overprotect them, rescue them, don't spend enough time with them, purchase too many things for their children, do homework for their children, nag, demand)...Nor do they develop the skills that help them feel capable when they are always t
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book has some good info. But it isn't very engaging and is very repetitive. There were also several sections that seemed like they needed more scientific backing - birth order traits in children and lifestyle preferences - which had the feel of unproven personality tests. ...more
Nex Juice
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book contains a lot of lists that are jam-packed with information. Brace yourselves, parents!

The Significant 7 Perceptions & Skills (that we want to help our kids to develop)
1) Strong perceptions of personal capabilities - "I am capable."
2) Strong perceptions of significance in primary relationships - "I contribute in meaningful ways and I am genuinely needed."
3) Strong perceptions of personal power or influence over life - "I can influence what happens to me."
4) Strong intrapersonal skills
May 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is like the holy grail of modern parenting. Most parenting books, courses and frameworks we come across today are one variation or another of what is taught in this book.

It was originally written in the eighties so it’s natural that sometimes the style feels outdated and there’s a couple concepts I don’t embrace. The essence of the content, however, is as needed today as it was back then.

Raising my kids to be self sufficient, confident and respectful are goals of mine and only a few
Apr 10, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m learning that good parenting books tend to have a few things in common. The specifics of the approach seem to matter less than the attitude of empathy while maintaining consistent expectations for behavior.

Positive discipline differs from the others I have read so far in that it rejects the idea of punishment as necessary for children to change their behavior. Instead, parents should focus on collaborating with their children on finding solutions. Parents are also not expected to shield the
Aug 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I probably would have gotten more from this book if I didn't teach lower elementary students in a departmentalized setting. I can adapt the activities for the little people, but the daily circle routine won't work well for us. ...more
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good reminder for how to be a loving yet firm parent. It contains tons of data, classifications and advices, derived from the real life practice. Still not easy to put into practice, but good to review now and then.
Jeanette Lukens
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great book, I learned a lot, and the strategies are already very helpful.
Janyl K
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
A must read for all parents. I wish she have written the book for parents and teachers seperately.
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I was a bit disappointed in this book. The suggestions and way of working are not bad, and certainly merit experimentation, but it remains too much at the anecdotical level.

There is no grounding in a solid theoretical framework, and there are even some methodological problems. For instance, children’s are both mistaken in understanding goal behaviour and expert in recognising punishment for what it is. Are they experts or are they mistaken? Why is there a difference?
Speaking of difference, ther
Sep 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Positive Discipline is designed to have mutual respect, see a misbehaving child as a discouraged child, use encouragement as the basic motivator, and teach life skills.
The section that dealt with the concept that a misbehaving child is trying to tell us “I don’t feel I belong or have significance, and I have a mistaken belief about how to achieve it.” was really helpful to me. It goes into detail about why children misbehave: power struggle, attention, etc. And it guides you on how to deal with
Hala Essam
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It is amazing book completely changes my life .love u Jen nelssen so much ♥️♥️♥️
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have a whole library of parenting books, but this one I actually read for a seminar I took at the kids school and I am not sure if that is what made the difference or not, but I thought this book was brilliant. I am testing out almost all the tools outlined in this book and since my kids are old enough I'm explaining that this is what i am doing, The strategies really seem to be working to keep things positive. It is about half understanding how your behavior affects the dynamic and half how t ...more
Sarah Stewart
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had a few bad experiences with parenting books when my son was a baby and I was dealing with postpartum depression, and I swore off parenting books completely. It finally got to the point that it was impossible to deny that I didn't know what I was doing when it came to boundaries and discipline. I talked to another Mom who told me about this book and I felt like I got a lifeline. She said that it centered around the idea of treating children with respect. I'd thought my choices were to either ...more
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is by far the best parenting book I have ever read. I read it in conjunction with taking the class, which
I highly recommend. I understand more clearly now why I parent the way I do and why I get the results that I do. I now know what I need to work on to achieve a different outcome. I love that idea that there are no perfect parents and mistakes are opportunities for learning. It takes so much pressure off of me to know that if I blow it, I can always go back to my child later and try agai
Tanya Wadley
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
Well, I have read a lot of parenting books... maybe by the time I have read 50 I'll be an "ideal parent" for my children! I find this parenting theory really resonates with how I feel parenting should be... a type of parenting that is very respectful and unlikely to leave children with damage or baggage from being overly permissive or strict or overly "child-centered" or whatever else!

Now that's the best thing about substitute teaching high school... I can read a book... I have been wanting to f
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Dr. Jane Nelsen is a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Counselor in South Jordan, UT and Carlsbad, CA.

She is the author and/or coauthor of the Positive Discipline Series.

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