Apr 22, 2010

What is the Principle of Participation?

Families Need Rules

All groups, of whatever size of nature, need laws and rules. Without them, groups may very well fall into confusion and conflict. The functions that rules can serve are essential. They can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts between people; define rights and privileges; establish what is considered appropriate, fair and equitable in human relationships; and provide guidelines to help people know what limits they must set on their own behavior.

The issue is not whether groups need rules. They do need them. The real issue is how to motivate all group members to comply with them.

At some time in our lives we all have felt unmotivated to comply with some rule or making a rule. Most people feel imposed upon and resentful of the new rule. But when people actively participate in setting a rule or making a decision that will affect them, they are more highly motivated to comply with it. We call this the Principle of Participation.

When family members are given the opportunity to participate in setting rules, several good things happen. They are: (1) a higher motivation on the part of all family members to carry out or comply with the rules; (2) better decisions; (3) closer, warmer relationships between family members; (4) higher self-esteem, self-confidence, and sense of control over fate; (5) more personal responsibility and self-discipline, and (6) less need for parents to enforce the rules.*

*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's F.E.T. Young Adult Resource book

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