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positive discipline Research


The Journal of Individual Psychology
SPECIAL ISSUE on Positive Discipline

The Journal of Individual Psychology's Special Issue on Positive Disciplinis now available to order. If you would like a physical copy, you can order the special issue at:

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This special issue was published in 2023.

Positive Discipline uses the theory of Individual Psychology to teach parents and educators effective methods for helping children become responsible, respectful, and resourceful. Positive Discipline is based on the teachings of Alfred Adler and Rudolph Dreikurs.

The Journal of Individual Psychology provides a forum for dialogue pertaining to Adlerian practices, principles, and theoretical development. Articles relate to theoretical and research issues as well as concerns of practice and application of Individual Psychology. Below is a sample of other articles published in the Journal of Individual Psychology specifically related to Positive Discipline or Adlerian practices incorporated by Positive Discipline.

These journal publications show the rich history and foundation on which Positive Discipline is based. The editors of the Journal place great emphasis on maintaining high overall quality of research and scholarly contributions.

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The Effectiveness of Positive Discipline Parenting Workshops on Parental Attitude and Behavior

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of a group-based parenting education program known as Positive Discipline. Positive Discipline is an Adlerian approach to parenting that emphasizes encouragement and the importance of belonging and significance. Taught in a parenting workshop, Positive Discipline attempts to teach parents concepts and tools to help them develop mutually respectful relationships through the use of structured and experiential learning. The present study uses a pre- and posttest design to evaluate the effects of these free 7-week workshops, which were offered to mostly Hispanic, mostly low-income participants in the Central Valley region of California. Results indicate that the workshops appear to be effective in influencing some aspects of parenting attitude and behavior, and that the attitudes and behavior correspond to concepts of authoritative parenting. A 3-month follow-up was also assessed, which appears to indicate that most effects persist beyond the termination of the program.

Carroll, P., & Brown, P. (2020). The effectiveness of positive discipline parenting workshops on parental attitude and behavior. The Journal of
              Individual Psychology
76(3), 286-303.

Positive Discipline: Helping children develop belonging and coping resources using Individual Psychology

Abstract: The authors discuss the Positive Discipline program, which is based on Adlerian theory, with particular emphasis on fulfilling the individual's need to belong. The Positive Discipline program is available through a variety of media, including books, a website, audio and video recordings, and apps. Specific Positive Discipline tools that support the development of a child's sense of belonging and the development of life skills are discussed. These Adlerian methods can be practically applied in a variety of settings: schools, clinical practice, and through parent education.

Gfroerer, K., Nelsen, J., & Kern, R. M. (2013). Positive Discipline: Helping Children Develop Belonging and Coping Resources Using Individual
Journal of Individual Psychology69(4).

The impact of Adlerian-Based parenting classes on self-reported parental behavior

Abstract: Public health research shows that the authoritative parenting style protects youth from risky and dangerous behavior. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether Adlerian-based parent education classes influence parental behavior in the direction of being more authoritative. To this end, over 1,250 participants completed assessments at the end of 110 Adlerian parenting classes in the United States and Canada. Parent-guardians reported statistically significant changes in behavior: setting clearer limits, increasing their sense of positive connection, and decreasing harshness. These changes toward a more authoritative parenting style (based on parent report of their own behaviors) were statistically significant. The greatest changes were in younger parents, women, those with the lowest income, and those with fewer children. Results were also useful for the parent educators in assessing their teaching.

McVittie, J., & Best, A. M. (2009). The Impact of Adlerian-Based Parenting Classes on Self-Reported Parental Behavior. Journal of Individual

The three R's of logical consequences, three R's of punishment, and the six steps for winning children over

Abstract: Focuses on the concept of logical consequences, punishment and steps in the winning of children. Enumeration of the R's of logical consequences; Purpose of the R's in punishment; Significance of the winning techniques to children after cooling-off period.

Nelsen, J. (1985). The three r's of logical consequences, the three r's of punishment, and the six steps for winning children over. Individual
41(2), 161.

Copyright of Journal of Individual Psychology is the property of University of Texas Press and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.) The information above was shared with permission from University of Texas Press.

Child Psychiatry and Human Development

Effectiveness of Positive Discipline Parenting Program on Parenting Style and Child Adaptive Behavior

Abstract: In this study, a community sample of parents attending free 7-week Positive Discipline parenting workshops were recruited, as well as a non-randomized community control. Both samples consisted of primarily Hispanic parents with similar demographic information and attrition rates (initial N = 91), as well as children of similar age (mean age 6.89 and 6.95 years) and gender. Parenting stress, parenting style, and parent-reported child adaptive behavior were assessed at baseline and after three months. Longitudinal analysis was performed using mixed-effects regression modeling. Results indicate that attendance in Positive Discipline parenting workshops was related to a decrease in authoritarian parenting style, a decrease in permissive parenting style, and a decrease in parental stress. It was also related to an increase in child academic competence, and a decrease in externalizing-hyperactive behavior (both parent-report). These results suggest that positive discipline parenting workshops may alter parenting style and may positively impact children of parents who attend.

Carroll, P. Effectiveness of Positive Discipline Parenting Program on Parenting Style, and Child Adaptive Behavior. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 53,
              1349–1358 (2022).

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Featured Dissertation

Holliday, M. (2014). Authoritative parenting and outcomes of Positive Discipline parent training: Parenting style and perceived efficacy. (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database.

The Adler School of Professional Psychology

This study was designed to investigate the impact of Adlerian parent trainings on parenting style and perceived competence, in order to determine if Positive Discipline parent training courses promote the authoritative parenting style. It was hypothesized that an Adlerian parent training would both promote the authoritative style and reduce authoritarian style and permissive style. It was also hypothesized that after attending a parent training, parents would note an increase in their sense of competence as parents. The central constructs were assessed through an online survey that included a measure of parenting style (Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire; PSDQ) and a measure of parenting competence (Parent Sense of Competence; PSOC). The sample consisted of 101 parents who attended one of 26 distinct Positive Discipline parent training group classes offered in cities across the United States. For the study, parents were assessed for parenting style and competence before the start of the course, after they completed the course, and at a 3-month follow-up period. Results indicated that parents experienced significant increases in both authoritativeness and sense of competence from pre-test to post-test. There was an even stronger significance associated with the increase in authoritativeness from pre-test to the three-month follow-up. Results also confirmed the hypothesis that attendance at the parent training would lead to reduced levels of authoritarian and permissive parenting styles. The study provides empirical support for the theoretical link between the Adlerian parenting model and the authoritative parenting model.

Featured Journal Article

Foteini Karagrigori, Positive Discipline Trainer,  has granted permission for the Positive Discipline Association to share her Master's degree thesis. Access the published thesis here (available in Greek only).

The Impact of an Adlerian Training Program on the Beliefs and Practices of Early Childhood Educators within Greece: A Qualitative Study

Abstract: This study explores the perspectives of early childhood educators working in Greek early childhood settings regarding the impact of Positive Discipline® - a training program inspired by Adlerian principles - in which they participated. The educators were provided with the opportunity and time to implement the program's ideas and principles. Utilizing a qualitative approach, the study revealed that, after five months of engagement in the training program, preschool educators reported changes in their beliefs concerning the framework for interpreting children's behaviors, as well as their professional and personal development. They expressed increased confidence and a willingness to experiment. Furthermore, the educators mentioned that they embraced new practices and actively tested the informed ideas and tools. Ultimately, they displayed a positive attitude towards the training program, discussing its experiential and group activities, the opportunities it provided for practice, and the pivotal role played by the trainer. This study represents the first nationwide investigation of a Positive Discipline® training program.

Karagrigori, F. (2023). The Impact of an Adlerian Training Program on the Beliefs and Practices of Early Childhood Educators
                      within Greece: A Qualitative Study. Neos Paidagogos Online, 37, 218-228. Retrieved

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