Positive Discipline Parent Education

About This Program

Target Population: Parents of children who are typically developing (infants through teens) and teachers of children (toddlers through teens) who are typically-developing; parents, teachers, and service providers of children with special needs (infants through teens), including children with disorders of attachment, children on the autism spectrum and children exposed to trauma

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 17

Program Overview

Based on the work of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs, Positive Discipline Parent Education promotes an internal locus of control, self-regulation, understanding others' perspectives, and the desire to contribute in meaningful ways to the community. The model can be categorized as a form of “authoritative” parenting – one that promotes a strong parent-to-child connection, as well as clear boundaries/limits. This parent education program teaches parents specific tools to help implement authoritative parenting that has been identified by Dr. Diana Baumrind as optimal for child development and overall well-being. Furthermore, these tools are designed to help parents balance being kind and firm at the same time. Examples of parenting tools include: encouragement, using curiosity questions, tone of voice, acting without words, validate feelings, and limit setting. This program gives parents alternatives to using rewards and punishment.

Positive Discipline Parent Education is taught in groups using an experiential model. Participants engage with the material through role-play and activities that invite them to connect the new material with their current life. The model also gives parents/care-givers the opportunity to practice new skills within the safe environment of the class.

Program Goals

The goals of Positive Discipline Parent Education are:

  • Decreased harshness in parenting
  • Increased connection (parent to child)
  • Increased skill (parental and child) in self-regulation
  • Increased skill in communication
  • Increased skill in sharing and teaching responsibilities
  • Increased skill in solution-focused problem solving
  • Ability to build family connections through the use of family meetings

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Positive Discipline Parent Education.

Essential Components

The essential components of Positive Discipline Parent Education include:

  • Class sessions utilize one of the Positive Discipline Parent Education book series depending on the client audience (i.e., Positive Discipline for Parenting Preschoolers, Positive Discipline for Parenting in Recovery, etc.). There also is a workbook by Dr. Jane Nelsen, the Founder of Positive Discipline that can be used as a supplemental resource. The workbook is organized by the weekly lessons.
  • No matter the size, frequency or duration, the curriculum is taught experientially, taking the learning from the head to the heart and deepening the integration and behavioral change.
  • The recommended class size is 15 to 25, but classes are sometimes up to 40 adults.
  • Large groups of 100 to 300 can be done as a one-time introductory presentation or workshop.
  • Experiential exercises can be utilized even in large group settings.
  • Session format:
    • A warm-up
    • Parenting Information: Chapter discussion, mini-lecture, or activity (Including an “Introduction to Adlerian Philosophy” at the first class)
    • Experiential activities
    • Parents Helping Parents Problem Solving Steps
    • Establishing a practice (homework related to topic)
  • Core concepts covered in sessions:
    • Long term vs. short term parenting
    • Cultural competency
    • Adlerian concepts overview
    • Belonging and significance
    • Belief Behind Behavior: thinking, feeling, deciding (getting in child’s shoes)
    • Mutual Respect
    • Self-care and adult development
    • Understanding self
    • Parenting styles
    • Development/temperament/current brain science
    • Firmness/setting limits
    • Kind and firm at the same time
    • Developing autonomy
    • Mistaken goals
    • Encouragement
    • Solutions
    • Mistakes are opportunities to learn
    • Family Meetings
    • Emotions and emotional regulation
    • Parents helping Parents Problem Solving Steps
    • Taking time for training/skill building (parents and children)

Program Delivery

Parent/Caregiver Services

Positive Discipline Parent Education directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Caregivers of children with relationship challenges, behavior challenges, power struggles, sibling fights, communication problems, emotional and self-regulation (parent and child) problems, lack of motivation and follow through, problems with routines, problems with family work, homework challenges, problems following disciplinary actions, and lack of mutual respect
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: Through regular Family Meetings, the family system is actively engaged in collaboratively problem-solving solutions to the behavior challenges experienced by children in the family.  Through family meetings, family members learn to work cohesively to plan family events, take responsibility for family chores, and acknowledge and encourage one another for efforts made to support the health and well being of the family.

Recommended Intensity:

Weekly 1½ to 2-hour class

Recommended Duration:

7 – 10 weeks (14 or more total hours recommended)

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • Group or Residential Care
  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)


Positive Discipline Parent Education includes a homework component:

Assignments are given out of the book and assigned in class to practice concepts learned at home, along with reading supportive material from a Positive Discipline Parent Education book and the workbook may be used for additional homework activities to support learning.


Positive Discipline Parent Education has materials available in languages other than English:

Chinese, Spanish

For information on which materials are available in these languages, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

  • Room with chairs for participants and facilitator arranged in a circle
  • Easel and easel pad, markers

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

There are no minimum educational requirements for being trained in this program.

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:
  • Training is provided in the United States and worldwide by Certified Positive Discipline Trainers.
  • Trainers are listed on the Positive Discipline Association website at www.positivediscipline.org
  • Courses are offered in the US and other countries.
  • There is also an on-line training or DVD option for people without access to a local trainer.
  • Advanced training is provided by Positive Discipline Lead Trainers at least yearly in the U.S., South America, France, and China.
Number of days/hours:
  • To become a Positive Discipline Trainer (all of the below)
  • Certification as a Positive Discipline Parent Educator (13 hours in person or via DVD training, plus completion of activities and an assessment)
  • Documented/evaluated practice (teach two 7-week parenting classes with submitted excellent evaluations)
  • Advanced Candidate Training (28 hours)
Additional Resources:

There currently are additional qualified resources for training:

See list on Positive Discipline Parent Education website at www.PositiveDiscipline.org

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for Positive Discipline Parent Education.

Additional References

Gfroerer, K., Nelsen, J., & Kern, R. (2013). Positive Discipline: Helping children develop belonging and coping resources using Individual Psychology. The Journal of Individual Psychology, 69, 294-304.

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.

McVittie, J. & Best, A. M. (2009). The impact of Adlerian-based parenting classes on self-reported parental behavior. The Journal of Individual Psychology, 65, 264-285.

Contact Information

Kelly Gfroerer, PhD, LPC
Agency/Affiliation: Positive Discipline Association
Website: www.positivediscipline.org
Phone: (866) 767-3472

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: December 2015

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: December 2019

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: April 2011