What is the discipline of superior force?   

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The psychologist John Holt has coined the term "discipline of superior force."  He uses it to refer to instances in which an authority figure imposes consequences upon a child for the child's actions.  These are consequences that would not simply happen naturally.  In other words, in the discipline of superior force, the authority figure is choosing consequences for the child's action in order to teach the child not to take such actions again.

An example of the discipline of superior force would be denying your child the privilege of watching TV because the child got bad grades.  Being banned from watching TV is not a natural consequence of getting bad grades (the way that hurting yourself when you aren't careful and you fall down the stairs is).  It is a consequence imposed by the parent.

Parents and other authority figures impose these consequences when there are no natural consequences for behaviors that they do not want their children to exhibit.