Life Style

Positive education, the limits of a concept

Place the well-being of the child at the center of learning. Not to use force, not to punish, not to shout, to welcome your emotions… How can you not adhere to positive education, also called benevolent or creative parenting? After centuries of education based on punishment and threat, this method inspired by positive psychology, born in the United States in the late 1990s, could not but appeal to parents.

→ TESTIMONIALS. Positive education, parents testify

Introduced in France in the 2000s by Isabelle Filliozat and Catherine Dumonteil-Kremer, the method has since been very successful, notably thanks to the media and the Internet. It is now offered free of charge in the workshops of some family allowance funds and some of its values ​​are listed in the “Parents’ booklet” that they distribute. Its influence is such that it even inspired the law banning “ordinary educational violence” in 2019.

Chloé, a teacher and mother of two children aged 9 and 11, discovered this approach during an internship on Montessori pedagogy. ” There was a lot of talk about benevolence and I understood that this was the kind of relationship I wanted to have with my children, she says. This experience opened my eyes to the way we see the little ones, with fewer rights and above all a duty of obedience. However, a child can only do things from what he wants. He is the actor of his development and there is no point in constraining him. “

This 42-year-old Parisian, also trained in non-violent communication, assures us that “ never raise your voice ” and not ” not punish ” their children. When she is angry, ” she differs “, it “ breath “And, then, she goes to see her sons for” express your emotion “Using the” I “. “I also try to understand theirs and together we try to find a solution to meet everyone’s needs”, she says.

The guarantee of neuroscience

Positive parenting appeals to parents all the more because it is based on neuroscience. ” This new knowledge confirms that when a child is scared or hurt, he does not learn anything ”, Explain Catherine Dumonteil-Kremer. Nadège Larcher, psychologist and co-founder of Atelier des Parents, also reminds than the brain understands positive sentences better and that it is better to say “stay next to me” rather than “do not go away”, for example. “

The scientific argument which would legitimize the method does not convince everyone, however. Béatrice Kammerer, author of “Really positive education” (Larousse) recognizes “The remarkable progress” neuroscience but also emphasizes that the discipline is ” Victim of his own success and, as a result, plagued by cheap popularization ”(1).

→ MAINTENANCE. Education: “Coercion is essential to become a social being”

Whatever. Positive parenting has become a social phenomenon. For better and for worse. Recovered by publishing, marketing and social networks, it tends to impose itself as a standard and the advice given by its followers sometimes turns into an injunction. “You have to be a positive parent all the time, all the time perfect. And if we get angry, we are made to understand that the anger comes from us, testifies Julie, mother of an 8-year-old girl. It is very guilty. “

Patrick Ben Soussan, child psychiatrist and author of “How to survive your children, what positive education does not tell you” (ed. Eres), adds: ” We went from one dogma to another. Parents are still forced to follow rules, but today they also have a personal responsibility. If they are not good parents, it is their fault, he analyzes. Thisdeterminism’, built on the behavioralism, will individualize parenting issues and decontextualize them, denying their social, political and collective dimension. ”

Sometimes described as a method “for bobos”, although it is democratizing, positive education is also accused of promoting the culture of performance, which requires “success in your children”, or of increasing the mental load of children. mothers, according to Béatrice Kammerer.

The all-out optimism also annoys: ” We are made to believe that we can manage everything without conflicts in harmony and happiness but this is to deny human complexity and, therefore, a whole part of history with the discovery of the unconscious. », Observes Patrick Ben Soussan. Even the term “positive education” is questioned since it suggests that any other approach would be negative.

A third way

Some parents also find this practice lax. Julie remembers thus ” children at the nursery who bit others and whose mothers just said, ‘Oh my, no!’ It is this kind of situation which diverted me from this method “, she confides. The conception of authority in positive education, however, varies from one school of thought to another. For Catherine Dumonteil-Kremer, the parent is an authority since he masters the things the child wants to learn. But the goal is not for him to be authoritarian. He is not there to be listened to but to hear the child’s emotions and give him the information he needs. When he respects the child, he, who learns by imitation, also respects him.

Frustration is not an objective either, according to the co-founder of the Observatoire de la Violence Éducative Ordinaire. “Childhood is a constant source of frustrations, no need to add more”, she argues.

→ MAINTENANCE. What is a “good” parent?

Nadège Larcher advocates an authority ” benevolent and thoughtful, a sort of third way between authoritarianism and laxity, which must absolutely be avoided ”, she insists. The psychologist also considers frustration inevitable, but it must be constructive. Frustrating in order to frustrate has no educational interest. Positive parenting is a real paradigm shift, sometimes difficult to understand, she recognizes, but we say to parents: “Take what suits you and complete according to your hunches. You are your child’s expert ”. “


Rights of the child

1924: The League of Nations adopts the Geneva Declaration, a text which recognizes for the first time specific rights of children.

1946: The UN creates the International Children’s Relief Fund (Unicef).

1959: The UN adopts the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which recognizes in particular the right of the child to education, play, a supportive environment and health care.

1973: The International Labor Organization (ILO) sets 18 as the minimum age for work.

1976 : Françoise Dolto popularizes the idea that “The child is a person” in the program “When the child appears”

1964 : Creation of Pomme d’api, the first children’s magazine.

1989 : Signature of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which for the first time recognizes minors as directly subject to rights.


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