Positive Discipline Tools for Teachers by Jane Nelsen and Kelly Gfroerer provides teachers the resources for effective classroom management. Their approach is based on the teachings of Rudolph Dreikurs who was influenced by the psychology of Alfred Adler. The five criteria they present for positive discipline are:

1. Helps children feel a sense of connection, belonging, and significance
2. Is kind and firm at the same time
3. Is effective in the long-term
4. Teaches valuable social and life skills for good character: fostering respect, concern for others, problem-solving skills, cooperation
5. Invites children to discover how capable they are and to use their power constructively to contribute in social settings (p. 2).

The book is well organized presenting a principle in each chapter with case studies from practitioners illustrating the principle. The chapter concludes with a summary of “Tool Tips” and findings from psychological research. Throughout the book there is an emphasis on the importance for the children to feel a sense of connection to their community, family, and school. Children who learn the necessary social and life skills are more likely to be  contributing members of their community.

The authors provide a number of important distinctions in training children that lead to fostering internal motivation. The difference between encouragement and praise is such an example. Praise teaches dependency on external feedback whereas encouragement teaches internal validation. When you praise students you put the spotlight on the student; however, when you encourage students, you foster self-evaluation that can lead to long-term change.

This book is an excellent resource for teachers or anyone working with children. If you would like additional information there is a helpful website: positivediscipline.org. (I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review).

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

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