Using Positive Discipline at Home

by Ami Gertler
At Discovery School we regularly use class meetings to provide examples of co-operation, respect and responsibility. The purpose of a class meeting is to give compliments, help each other, solve problems and plan events. This method of positive discipline can be carried into your home as well. Many of us were raised with punishment rather than discipline. Positive discipline uses natural and logical consequences.

A natural consequence is anything that happens naturally, without parental interference. When you forget your coat on a cold day, you will be cold. A logical consequence can be discussed in a family meeting. An example: Sally forgets her lunch each day. Rather than rescuing her it is decided that Sally will be hungry if she forgets her responsibility.

Family meetings are invaluable; children feel valued when they get an opportunity to give their input. Children are also extremely resourceful. Family meetings can start by posting an agenda. Plan a regular meeting time and be consistent. Sit down as a family with no interruptions. Begin your meeting with compliments. Then address the concern. Start with the person who wrote the concern on the agenda. Ask, "Is this still a problem?" Often, after a cooling off period, the problem will resolve itself. If it is still a concern, have the person provide the others with information. When the concern is with another person in the family, let that person state his/her position next. Open the meeting to any additional comments from others. Take note of each helpful suggestion. Each person should be allowed to express his/her opinion. After receiving about three helpful hints, the family may vote on one. The item with the most votes is put into play. The person receiving the consequence may choose (within reason) when the consequence will begin (i.e. tomorrow morning). Keep in mind the consequence needs to be related (to the problem), respectful and reasonable.

A family meeting must never be used as another lecturing format. Parents must be as objective and non-judgmental as possible. Never use a family meeting as a guise to continue excessive control or for revenge. Regular family meetings will help build a sense of mutual respect, trust, understanding, and love. These values lay the foundation for the years ahead.

This is a family meeting in a nutshell. For more information ask your child to show you or read any of these Jane Nelson books:

reprinted with permission from Discovery News, May 28, 1998.
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copyright (c) 1998, Lorna Kropp.
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Revised: July 1, 1998