Positive discipline has a plethora of benefits for children, in comparison to negative discipline (i.e. spanking, hitting, reprimanding). Instead of shaming the child or making them feel bad, positive discipline focuses on misbehaviour as an opportunity for learning. It’s important that parents practice positive discipline techniques so that as tensions rise, situations are still handled properly.
The Core of Positive Discipline: There are no Bad Kids, just Bad Behaviour
- There are many reasons that your child could be triggered to act out (e.g., hungry, tired, sleepy).
- Instead of lecturing the child about what they did wrong, show them how to make it right.
- Describe the behaviour (“it’s unkind to hit your baby sister”) rather than attributing it to a personal characteristic (“only bad boys hit their baby sister!”).
Be Kind, but Firm
- Keep in mind, what the child did makes sense and is logical in their mind.
- Stay calm. Instead of arguing, speak clearly and firmly about what happened.
- E.g. “Sharing is good, but we don’t hit our friends even if they don’t share.”
- Show empathy
- E.g. “I know you really wanted to play with that toy, but hitting is not kind. It hurts.”
When Possible, Offer Choices
- By offering choices, you empower the child to ‘right’ the situation and to feel more in control of their emotions and the situation.
- E.g. “Do you want to say sorry to your friend and keep playing or do you want to read a book with me until you calm down?”
Treat Mistakes as Opportunities to Learn
- By using mistakes to learn, you teach children about proper behaviour and empower them to make good decisions, even when you aren’t there.
Set Clear Expectations and Boundaries (and be consistent!)
- Having rules is expected, but ensure that these rules are clear and consistent.
Use Single Word Reminders
- Instead of demanding something from your child, remind them with single word reminders or questions.
- E.g. Instead of saying “turns off the lights” to remind your child when they leave their room say “lights.”
Let the Child Face Natural Consequences
- You might want to say, “If you don’t eat your lunch, you can’t play on your iPad”, but this isn’t a natural consequence.
- The natural consequence would be to go hungry
Positive discipline helps parents to handle challenging situations with children by educating them on what to do right rather than focusing on what they’ve done wrong. Making the switch to positive discipline but with practice parents will start to see a change in their children’s behaviour.
Inspired by: https://afineparent.com/be-positive/positive-discipline.html