Every parent knows (or learns along the way) that discipline is at the core of raising children. While we all like to imagine that our kids are the best behaved youngsters on the planet, the truth is that every child will go through phases where they act out and push boundaries. It is a very normal part of childhood and adolescence, but it can definitely be frustrating for the parents. Positive Discipline is a model of discipline that focuses on positive behavior instead of negative. Schools and parents can use positive discipline techniques to ensure they get the best results.
What Is Positive Discipline?
Positive Discipline is about remaining calm and respectful to children while enforcing the rules of conduct. Teaching and reinforcing good behaviors does not mean ignoring problems. It actually focuses more on helping children to learn how to handle situations appropriately and giving them the tools they need to recognize and rectify their own bad behaviors. In short, positive discipline involves establishing reasonable limits for children, guiding them in how to stay within the limits, and learning how to deal with situations when they don’t.
What Are The Methods of Discipline?
There are two main types of discipline – positive and negative. Negative discipline often involves angry or even violent responses to bad behavior. This can include yelling, spanking or emotional abuse. Most negative discipline is in the form of knee-jerk reactions from parents who have not learned these positive discipline techniques. Positive discipline is completely different in that it requires parents to prepare in advance for bad behaviors and have ready responses to deal with it.
What Are Some Positive Discipline Punishment Options?
When focusing on Positive Discipline techniques, parents have four main punishment options, all geared toward encouraging positive behaviors.
Positive Reinforcement involves offering a compliment for effort given. When a child does what they’re told, positive reinforcement requires you to give your child specific praise for doing so. “Great job cleaning your room, Billy.” Children will seek out praise every chance they’re given, so by offering it for good behaviors, they will continue in that good behavior.
Negative Reinforcement is more about ignoring certain behaviors or removing negative responses. For instance, ignoring the requests of a whiny or screaming child until they have calmed down and asked politely helps them to learn proper etiquette. Similarly, negative reinforcement can be as simple as nagging your child into doing a chore. When they get tired of hearing you remind them to clean up their toys, they will eventually do it, at which point the nagging has stopped. They will learn that they can end annoying guilt trips by being proactive. It is similar to hitting snooze on an alarm clock. Eventually a person will get up and turn the clock off so they don’t have to hear it anymore.
Positive Punishment is as simple as asking a child to clean up a mess they made. Every action has a consequence, and the price of messy play is having to clean it up. Positive punishment also can involve deterrents to future behavior. For instance, if a child runs into the road to chase a ball, a parent may yell loudly, frightening the child back to the sidewalk. The yelling, though not traditionally thought of as a positive action, will serve as a reminder to the child the next time they think about running into the road.
Negative Punishment is more in the vein of taking away a privilege. For instance, if a child is misbehaving, and you have been clear on the rules of such misbehavior, you may find that putting them in time-out or taking away their favorite toy will help them to understand that their actions have consequences.
Positive Parenting Tips
As your child learns and grows, they will have different parenting needs. But by starting early, you can raise happy, well-adjusted children that will contribute to society. Here are some positive parenting tips for every age group.
Infant & Toddler
- Talk to your baby early and often. Your voice will help to soothe and comfort.
- Help your baby learn language skills by answering them when they make sounds.
- Sing to your baby as often as you can. This helps with language and brain development.
- Play music to your baby. Help them develop a love of music and can also help with brain development.
- Read to your baby. This helps with developing language skills.
- Give tons of love and attention to your baby and praise them often.
- Cuddle your baby whenever you can. This helps them to feel secure.
- When your baby is awake and alert, play with them. If they are tired or fussy, take a break.
- Give your baby developmentally appropriate toys to help distract or engage them.
- Keep your baby safe – especially once they are more mobile.
- Ask your toddler to find objects or name body parts.
- Play matching games, sorting games and simple puzzles to help them with recognition.
- Always encourage your child to explore and try new things.
- Allow your toddler to help dress and feed themselves and praise their efforts.
- Encourage good behaviors by praising your child more than you punish bad behaviors.
- Always tell or show your toddler what behaviors are acceptable and which are not.
- Encourage your child to immerse themselves in imaginative play.
- Play follow the leader with your child, allowing them to take the leader role.
- Ask your child their name and age and other questions about themselves.
- Teach your child simple childhood rhymes and songs such as Itsy Bitsy Spider or Baa Baa Black Sheep.
- Help your toddler learn how to communicate their upset in an acceptable way.
- Continue reading to your child. Take them to libraries and book stores and allow them to choose their own books to read.
- Give your child simple chores and allow them to help around the house.
- Encourage your child to interact and play with other kids.
- Encourage sharing by praising your child when they play with new friends.
- Use consistent language to discipline your child. Explain what you expect from them and make sure you follow up any chastising with ways to do better in the future.
- Speak in complete sentences toward your child to help them develop language skills. Encourage them to use the correct words and phrases.
- Help your child through each step of problem solving when they are upset.
- Allow your child to show their independence by giving them a limited number of very simple choices (Do you want to wear this shirt or that shirt? Do you want an apple or a banana?).
- Recognize the accomplishments of your child and praise them often.
- Show affection every chance you get.
- Give your child new chores and responsibilities as appropriate to their age.
- Encourage your child to show respect for others and to help those in need.
- Encourage your child to set achievable goals and help them to get there.
- Teach your child to take pride in their accomplishments without expecting rewards.
- Teach your child patience by encouraging them to allow others to go first or to finish a task before moving on to another.
- Remind your child to think about the possible consequences of an action before doing it.
- Be clear about the rules in your family and in life.
- Set aside time to do family activities.
- Ask your child to read to you.
- Try to use positive discipline techniques to guide and protect your child rather than immediately punishing them.
- Encourage independence by allowing them to solve problems on their own when possible.
- Spend time with your kid and talk to them often about what they are going through when you’re not around.
- Involve yourself with your child’s school.
- Help your child to develop their own sense of right and wrong by speaking with them about your views and asking questions to get to know their views.
- Praise your child often, but remind them to be proud of their own accomplishments so that they recognize their own good choices.
- Talk with your child about puberty and what they can expect.
- Speak honestly and directly to your child when discussing sensitive subjects like drugs, drinking and sex.
- Get to know your child’s friends.
- Show interest in your child’s school life and try to engage them in conversation about it daily.
- Encourage your child to make healthy choices in food and activities.
- Respect your child’s opinions, understanding that they are young and are basing their thoughts on their limited life experiences.
- Be clear about goals and expectations, allowing your child to have input about how to meet those expectations.
- Pay attention to changes in your child’s behavior. Let them know you care about them and are there for them.
- Listen to your child when they speak with you. Active listening is imperative in noticing any new issues your child may have.
- Show interest in your teen’s activities. Show up for sporting events or choir concerts. Encourage their love of drama or debate.
- Encourage your teen to volunteer and become involved in the community.
- Spend time with your teen, one on one and as a family, doing things they enjoy.
- Compliment your teen when they do something well.
- Respect your teen’s opinions and concerns without judgement.
- Be available for advice and support.
- Allow your teen to work if they choose to. Allowing them to earn their own money and take on extra responsibilities helps them to gain independence.
- Help your teen plan for difficult and uncomfortable situations. Come up with ways for them to react to peer pressure without giving in.
- Respect your teen’s need for privacy.
- Remind your teen to think about sleep, healthy eating, and exercise so that they are able to do their best in life.
Positive Discipline is one of the most important parts of positive parenting. By teaching children early the rules and guidelines for behavior, you can raise kids that are respectful, thoughtful and healthy in both mind and body. This, in turn, will make parenting much less stressful for everyone.
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