Pretty radical statement, right?
(The following is from the author of P.E.T.—and three-time Nobel Peace Prize Nominee—Dr. Thomas Gordon. He created the truly pioneering parenting program, Parent Effectiveness Training, in 1962. And in doing so, introduced the world to Active Listening, I-Messages, the Behavior Window, Shifting Gears and all the other amazing skills parents learn in P.E.T.)
Now on to Dr. Gordon…
When I was a practicing clinical psychologist, I was as convinced as most parents that the period of rebellion in the teen years was both normal and inevitable—the result of adolescents’ universal desire to establish their independence and rebel against their parents. I was sure that adolescence, as most studies have shown, was invariably a time of storm and stress in families.
Our experience with P.E.T. has proven me wrong. Time and time again, parents trained in P.E.T.* have reported the surprising absence of rebellion and turmoil in their families.
I am now convinced that adolescents do not rebel against parents. They only rebel against certain destructive methods of discipline almost universally employed by parents.
Turmoil and dissension in families can be the exception, not the rule, when parents learn to substitute a new method of resolving conflicts.
The P.E.T. program has also thrown new light on punishment in child-rearing. Many of our P.E.T. parents have proven to us that punishment can be discarded forever in disciplining children—and I mean all kinds of punishment, not just the physical kind.
Parents can raise children who are responsible, self-disciplined, and cooperative without relying on the weapon of fear
…they can learn how to influence children to behave out of genuine consideration for the needs of parents rather than out of fear of punishment or withdrawal of privileges.
Does this sound too good to be true? Probably it does. It did to me before I had the experience of personally training parents in P.E.T. Like most professionals, I had underestimated parents. P.E.T. parents have taught me how much they are capable of changing, given the opportunity for training.
I have a new trust in the ability of mothers and fathers to comprehend new knowledge and acquire new skills. Our P.E.T. parents, with few exceptions, have been eager to learn a new approach to child-rearing, but first they have to be convinced that the new methods will work. Most parents already know their old methods have been ineffective. So today’s parents are ready for change, and our P.E.T. program has demonstrated they can change.
*P.E.T. can be taken online (or in-person) with certified P.E.T. Instructors. Visit this page to see the current list of classes.