Thanks for the shout-out, balanced mama, I will try to weigh in here!
Our approaches are similar, but with some important distinctions. I'm not sure how much detail to go into here, but I'll do what I can.
The first is that PD teaches you how to teach your child social-emotional skills needed for life. Take any PD class and you'll walk away with actual tools and activities to use so that your child develops these skills. I've used these activities in my classroom and they are a godsend. It is not just a philosophy or theory - it is practical!
I agree with balanced mama's advice to give the child a sense of personal power, and to express genuine empathy when he experiences natural consequences (unless he is in any real danger then you rescue him!). To rescue a child from his feelings is to enable him. To not express empathy is to isolate and confuse him (and worse).
But, I disagree that not allowing him your cooking because he didn't help with pre-dinner chores is a natural consequence. A natural consequence is being cold when you don't bring your jacket (ie mother nature). Instead, this is a parent-designed and enforced logical consequence. And I do not advocate for logical consequences. Instead, I teach a child how to be a responsible, productive member of a group, family, classroom, community, etc using his intrinsic motivation of finding belonging and significance.
This is the general philosophy behind it:
I use Positive Discipline which advocates mutually respectful relationships that are both kind and firm, at the same time! This approach is grounded in the work of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs, and designed by Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott as a program for families, schools and communities to “teach young people to become responsible, respectful and resourceful members of their communities…in a manner that is deeply respectful and encouraging for both children and adults” (PD Website).
Positive Discipline believes, as did Dreikurs, that children are hard-wired from birth to connect and that children who feel a sense of connection are less likely to misbehave. Unlike his peer, Sigmund Freud, Adler believed that behavior is not driven by events in the past, but instead, an individual’s behavior moves them toward a goal of belonging and significance that is influenced by each individual’s decisions about themselves, others, and the world. Dreikurs, born 27 years after Adler in 1897, further developed Adler’s concepts on the individual psyche into a pragmatic approach to understanding children’s misbehavior and cultivating “Gemeinschaftsgefühl” (Adler’s term for ‘social interest/community feeling’) in the classroom and the home. He recognized that children misbehave when they lack a sense of belonging and significance in their social environments – and, conversely, building this sense of belonging and significance in a child by developing mutually respectful relationships with the child would encourage the child to contribute and cooperate precisely because he is acknowledged and valued as such, without the need for rewards, punishments, threats, bribes, etc.
When children cannot find a sense of belonging or connection, they start to misbehave in attempt to find it through other means. Using Positive Discipline effectively requires shifting our focus from problem behavior to instead seeing challenging behavior as a child’s subconscious solution to unmet needs (ie they can’t find a sense of belonging and significance). In other words, misbehavior is based on a child’s (subconscious) mistaken understanding of how to find belonging and significance. Rudolf Dreikurs called these mistaken ideas mistaken goals. With this new Positive Discipline framework that focuses on solutions and a child’s strengths, we can help develop kids’ academic and social-emotional well-being.
Positive Discipline is grounded in brain research and capitalizes on the child’s natural development to best enhance learning and growth. In particular, new research is demonstrating the power of "mirror neurons" that allow children to learn self-regulatory behaviors *in the presence of self-regulated adults". ie monkey see, monkey do!
This is what all that actually means:
Self-discipline must be taught and that discipline teaches. It is not simply a matter of stating expectations and punishing infractions, but instead discipline is patiently and thoroughly taking the time to teach necessary skills to ensure that children are equipped with the tools they need for success. You teach behavior/social skills with the same care, patience and practice as you would teach them to read!
Positive Discipline tools:
Mutual respect. Adults model firmness by respecting themselves and the needs of the situation, and kindness by respecting the needs of the child.
Identifying the belief behind the behavior. Effective discipline recognizes the reasons kids do what they do and works to change those beliefs, rather than merely attempting to change behavior.
Effective communication and problem solving skills (practice and applied in class meetings)
Discipline that teaches (and is neither permissive nor punitive).
Focusing on solutions instead of punishment.
Encouragement (instead of praise). Encouragement notices effort and improvement, not just success, and builds long-term self-esteem and empowerment.
In PD, solutions are:
I think that helpful, and sometimes respectful, is the piece logical consequences are missing. Instead, PD is solutions-focused not consequence-focused. That means genuinely brainstorming to find a solution to the real problem, not making a kid pay. Things like brainstorming with the child for solutions, giving him more responsibilities, noticing and helping him to reflect on his own successes.
"Whoops - you made a mistake. How can you make a repair?"
"I know you are in a hurry, and what was our agreement?" ('and' comes from kind/connected and firm)
"You seem really frustrated, honey. Would your cool down routine help?"
"I notice that you have a lot of energy. I could really use that energy in the garden today! Could you help me?"
"I notice you like organizing things. I wonder if you could help me with our grocery budget?"
"I noticed you forgot to take your homework to school this morning. What did it feel like when the teacher asked you for it and you didn't have it?" (don't judge, let him do the reflecting)
There's even an app for PD tool flashcards to help you remember options in the moment! Things like routines, making agreements, trusting the process, encouragement, etc.
The biggest piece is structured family (or classroom for that matter) meetings where kids can put problems they are having on the agenda and everyone works to solve them together. Yes, it is messy, unpredictably and never a 'quick' fix. But think of the life-skills you are empowering them with when you help children, even little ones, practice listening, communicating, seeing things from another perspective, holding multiple viewpoints, trusting, respecting, waiting, thinking critically, having patience, etc.
It is not lenient, granola, wishy-washy. I can assure you. It holds kids accountable - but not because you are bigger and in charge, but because you are both human and in this together.
I work with kids that everyone else has thrown away. There is nothing I could do to these kids that hasn't already been done to them. Believe me. But what I offer is doing something with them. Ahh, now that is different!
Off my soap box now, but to be fair, I was asked directly! If you want more (this goes for anyone), email me and I would be glad to connect you with resources in your area.
Edited because I forgot to add: one way to think of kind and firm that I like is that kindness is connection, not niceness.
And, here are my favorite blogs for what this looks like in families, complete with all the challenges, frustrations, etc!
Can We Hug It Out
Parenting From Scratch
Single Dad Brad