Review and Main Takeaways of Positive Discipline for Preschoolers: For Their Early Years

I just finished reading Positive Discipline for Preschoolers: For Their Early Years–Raising Children Who are Responsible, Respectful, and Resourceful (Positive Discipline Library) by Jane Ed.D. Nelsen, Cheryl Erwin, and Roslyn Ann Duffy. As always, I type up a blog post about what I got out of the book and if I would recommend.

I found this book mostly geared towards teachers and a little condescending in tone towards parents. Regardless, I got some things out of it. Here they are. (I post but the new things I get out of each book. See my category on the side about Parenting books for brief takeaways of many major parenting books.)

  • This statement about emotions is insightful: “Feelings are the language of energy. The very word emotion has as its base the word motion; our feelings and emotions do move us, mentally, verbally, or physically.
  • Hands down the best advice I have gotten about handling fights at the playground between children was found in this book. The authors describe not being “rescuer or referee,” and also not immediately calling the school or other parent to blame them for the problem. Rather, the authors say to focus on giving your child guidance about how to handle the situation next time. In the story they give, the mother handles the daugthers emotions first, by validating them, raises her daughter’s awareness of how the other child felt, then offered possible solutions. I have been working with my son to say “No pushing!” or “No hitting!” when another child does this, rather than hit back. A great foundation to teach a child to set boundaries *for themselves*.
  • Further testament to how important managing emotions is to discipline: “Using simple, accurate language to reflect and describe emotions teaches your child to identify what he feels and enables him—with time and practice—to use words rather than behavior to express them.” [Emphasis mine]
  • The following combines validating emotions and curiosity questions in a way I hadn’t thought of before:
    • Ask the child to talk through rather than act out what she is feeling. Because most children are not consciously aware of their feelings and may lack words to describe them accurately, you might try asking simple yes-or-no questions about the feelings: “Sounds like you might be feeling hurt and want to get even.” “Are you having a hard time holding your anger inside?” “When you don’t get what you want, does it make you so angry you can hardly stand it?” When you are correct in guessing her feelings, your child will feel validated and relieved at being understood.
  • I found yet another testament towards serving meals family style to children with no pressure whatsoever to get them to eat this or that. It’s worth the reminder:
    • During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, many university early childhood programs conducted studies to see what foods toddlers would eat when all kinds of foods were placed on the lunch table. The children were allowed to eat whatever they wanted. Sometimes children would eat dessert first. Sometimes they would eat broccoli first. The main finding of this program was that the children did not fuss. And the results were always similar—when children were left to follow their own “instincts,” they chose a balanced diet over time.
  • The book gave a study which further proves that early potty training is not better.
    • A study at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recently found that children acquire toilet skills more readily when their parents choose the right time to begin training. When children began toilet training before twenty-seven months, the process took a year or more; when children began training between twenty-seven and thirty-six months, training took five to ten months. According to this study, the optimal time for speedy toilet training is when a child is just shy of his third birthday. It takes approximately five months to toilet train a child when he begins between the ages of thirty-three and thirty-six months.”
  • The book advocates family meetings, something we have yet to do, and to, “Begin each meeting with compliments and appreciations.” I like this idea.
  • This about television,
    • A television located in a child’s room encourages isolation instead of connection. When you combine addiction and isolation, you have a child who is developing habits of life numbness instead of life enjoyment.
  • This website might have parenting classes,
  • Worth pondering:
    • In fact, most young children’s misbehavior is a sort of “code” designed to let you know that they don’t feel a sense of belonging and need your attention, connection, time, and teaching.
  • Their comments on birth order have resonated with my children, so far. The first born’s motto is “Me first!” The second born’s motto is “Me too!” Middle children tend to develop “Outstanding social skills.” The third born’s motto is “Take Care of Me!”


When parents don’t teach, the culture will. Nature, it is said, abhors a vacuum



Leave a Reply