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Authoritative and Democratic Parenting Programs
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The Big Answer


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The Winning Family

a book by Louise Hart

(our site's book review)

One of the P.E.T.-like parenting methods is called Winning Family Lifeskills. It differs from P.E.T. in that it includes logical consequences in its parenting toolbox. All of the following parenting methods include logical consequences: STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting), Active Parenting, Winning Family Lifeskills, Positive Discipline, Redirecting Children’s Behavior, and Positive Parenting (which we call any Dreikurs-styled authoritative parenting that is not any of the aforementioned methods or Winning Family Lifeskills).

These methods rely on wisdom from the likes of Alfred Adler, Rudolf Dreikurs, Abraham Maslow, and Haim G. Ginott, to greater or lesser degrees. All of these methods advocate natural consequences and nonpunitive logical consequences and can be called authoritative parenting (methods which discourage all permissive and authoritarian tactics) and democratic parenting (since they believe in equality, rights, win-win and avoidance of power trips from anyone). P.E.T. is also authoritative and democratic, but it tries to avoid even the slightest taint of punitive strategies by rejecting logical consequences—which all these other methods find necessary, even though they accept logical consequences only of the nonpunitive variety.

Author of The Winning Family, Dr. Louise Hart is a community psychologist and educator who has raised two sons and a daughter. She travels extensively and conducts seminars on self-esteem, personal empowerment, and family development for conferences and agencies, educators and parents nationwide. She teaches people the lifeskills essential for creating fulfilling lives.

She has written more books than just The Winning Family, which is the most balanced and complete book on parenting. Also by Hart is On the Wings of Self-Esteem, a guide to personal transformation by someone who has gone through it. She created these audiocassette tapes years ago which are no longer being sold online: Building Self-Esteem in Children, which offers many specific strategies for increasing self-esteem in children, The Winning Family, The Key to Winning—Increasing Your Own Self-Esteem, which focuses on cultural barriers to self-esteem, including perfectionism and comparison, and Increasing Self-Esteem in Students, which focuses on how educators can build self-esteem in the classroom.

The facts are known and it’s not that hard to teach, and yet students sit, bored, in factory-model classrooms where they listen to lectures and memorize facts even though what they need to be learning is how to think, cooperate, problem-solve and live
The facts are known and it’s not that hard to teach, and yet students sit, bored, in factory-model classrooms where they listen to lectures and memorize facts even though what they need to be learning is how to think, cooperate, problem-solve and live


What kids need to be learning is how to think, cooperate, problem-solve and live, and they need educators who can build self-esteem in the classroom
What kids need to be learning is how to think, cooperate, problem-solve and live, and they need educators who can build self-esteem in the classroom

She’s a leading educator in the area of self-esteem development, and has helped thousands of parents and educators. The true story of her own personal transformation has been an inspiration to many. The Winning Family should be required reading in the education of every person on the planet.

Winning Family parenting, which includes P.E.T. methods, is better for kids than any other parenting method. As most of us know, parents tend to make the same mistakes their own parents made with them, and most people who avoid this do the opposite of what their parents did to them. In other words, while most people raised permissively do permissive parenting and most people raised by authoritarian parents do authoritarian parenting, when people rebel against parental ways they usually rebel against authoritarian ways by permissiveness and rebel against permissive ways by authoritarianism. So in all cases above, misparenting leads to more of the same. And even when people strive for a more balanced approach by combining both methods, this too is a hopeless strategy, at least as dysfunctional as the others, and likely to add confusion to the long list of other symptoms the above misparenting will elicit.

But there’s an alternative that is not only balanced and comprehensive, it’s actually inspiring. It’s the authoritative parenting method as described by Dr. Louise Hart. It centers on respect. Everyone’s needs are considered important—it’s very win-win. Parents share power with each other and with their children. They offer choices, and they treat children as capable, worthwhile human beings who are able to think for themselves and make good decisions. They teach responsibility and allow freedom. They participate in family meetings where everyone is involved in making plans, rules and decisions. Husbands and wives share power. Neither is dominant.

In family meetings everyone is involved in making plans, rules and decisions
In family meetings everyone is involved in making plans, rules and decisions

Hart advocates that we let children learn from the natural consequences of their actions if possible, or the nonpunitive logical consequences of their actions if natural consequences are unlikely to arise. Good parents provide structure but allow freedom. They teach responsibility by giving it, and encourage children to learn from their mistakes. They love their children and counsel them in empowering ways. They have high esteem and engender same in their offspring. They are sensitive to needs. They use many of the same communication and parenting tools as P.E.T., such as active listening, encouragement rather than praise, I-statements, conflict resolution, avoidance of communication barriers, problem owning, and natural consequences.

Praise is a bad way of instilling self-esteem—it  produces not self-esteem but dependency; verbally encouraging is bad for kids if it is done with You statements but good for kids if it is done with I statements ('I'm wondering how you felt when you drew that' or 'I appreciate it when you help with dishes')
Praise is a bad way of instilling self-esteem—it produces not self-esteem but dependency; verbally encouraging is bad for kids if it is done with You statements but good for kids if it is done with I statements ("I'm wondering how you felt when you drew that" or "I appreciate it when you help with dishes")

Children brought up this way have self-responsibility and high self-esteem, are cooperative and good thinkers and problem solvers.

Winning Family Lifeskills are not just related to parenting. They’re important in all other relationships as well including spousal ones and friendships. What’s more, Winning Family Lifeskills are designed to help each individual transform his or her life from symptomizing past mistakes to manifesting self-esteem and happiness.

“Fostering self-esteem in a child from the outset is easier and healthier than trying to repair damaged self-esteem later in life. Yet we cannot turn back the clock. We must start where we are now. If your children are older, it’s not too late. The same things that build self-esteem in the first place also repair damaged self-esteem later on—for your children and yourself.”

“If your emotional development was stunted as a kid, there’s hope! Healing is possible. And as you fill in your own developmental holes, you can become whole—and will be better equipped to nurture the development of your children.”

Unlike so many trips, therapies, fads, etc., that people have experimented with in the 20th and 21st centuries, this lifeskill set is the genuine article—it actually delivers what it promises. Dr. Hart herself has lived the normal, dysfunctional way, but manifested great strength of character as she studied and thought and developed profound insights about what had and hadn’t worked about her life. She studied these subjects intensely, got a degree, and began to help others to see the light.

Winning Family Lifeskills are about changing your environment and relationships so that they all support and empower you and those around you—especially your family. They represent the highest level of the most profound human relationship knowledge available in the world today, as well as the most effective method for developing a winning life and a winning family.

People who've chosen a winning life and a winning family
People who've chosen a winning life and a winning family

For a fuller discussion on logical vs. natural consequences, see the comments on the book Happy Children by Rudolf Dreikurs, and elsewhere in our website.

To find discussions of punitive vs. nonpunitive authoritative parenting, check out comments on Diana Baumrind’s works also on this website. Her ideas about “firm control” define the conservative end of the authoritative parenting continuum, while Gordon’s ideas on avoiding logical consequences and relying on natural consequences to provide all consequences training define the liberal (or Carl Rogers) end of that continuum.