What is Positive Discipline

Positive Discipline is a program based on the work of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs, and is designed to teach children to become responsible, respectful and resourceful members of their communities. Based on the best-selling Positive Discipline books by Dr. Jane Nelsen and co-authors Lynn Lott, Cheryl Erwin and others, Positive Discipline teaches important social and life skills in a manner that is deeply respectful and encouraging for both children and adults (including parents, teachers, childcare providers, youth workers, and others). Recent research tells us that children are “hardwired” from birth to connect with others, and that children who feel a sense of connection to their community, family, and school are less likely to misbehave. To be successful, contributing members of their community, children must learn necessary social and life skills. 

Five Criteria for Positive Discipline

Positive Discipline is based on the understanding that discipline must be taught and that discipline teaches. Dr. Jane Nelsen gives the following criteria for “effective discipline that teaches”:
  • Is it kind and firm at the same time? (Respectful and encouraging) 
  • Does it help children feel a sense of belonging and significance? (Connection) 
  • Is it effective long-term? (Punishment works short term, but has negative long- term results.) 
  • Does it teach valuable social and life skills for good character? (Respect, concern for others, problem-solving, accountability, contribution, cooperation) 
  • Does it invite children to discover how capable they are and to use their personal power in constructive ways? 

Videos About How Positive Discipline Works in WA State Foster Homes

Quick Overview of Positive Discipline History, Principles, and Techniques

Photo of Dr. Jane Nelsen, Founder and Co-Author of Positive DisciplineDr. Jane Nelsen is a world renowned author and trainer on the topic of Discipline and has authored over 17 books related to Positive Discipline, including Positive Discipline for Children with Special Needs, for Single Parents, for Preschoolers, for Childcare Providers, the First Three Years, for Teenagers, for Parenting in Recovery, and many more.

Click the image for an in-depth interview with Dr. Jane Nelsen, author and co-founder of Positive Discipline.  


How Positive Discipline Works with Foster Parents and Current WA State Law

Photo of Darcey Hancock, Statewide Administrator of the Division of Licensed Resources

Click the image to hear from Darcey Hancock, WA State Administrator of the Division of Licensed Resources.  

Mrs. Hancock describes the previous Washington Administrative Code (WAC) related to discipline and how it was updated to meet the special considerations Caregivers have expressed related to discipline when it comes to children in out-of-home care.  

The WAC includes positive language around discipline that foster parents can use in their homes, and many of the techniques and principles of Positive Discipline are applicable.