10 Quick Positive Discipline Tips You Can Rely On
What is positive discipline? Katie Chiavarone explains and gives examples of how to use it.
Positive discipline can be scary, especially if you were raised in a family where punishment and traditional discipline were the norm.
However, research has proven that some of the more traditional discipline methods such as time-outs, punishment, and spanking, can do much more harm than good. It can hurt your relationship with your child, and will make them feel bad about themselves, which won’t encourage them to do better.
Positive discipline seeks to empower children and strengthen the parent/child bond. By making your child feel better, they will want to do better. While punishment leads to a battle for control, positive discipline helps the parent and child work together.
While the thought of being "on point" and not relying on yelling and punishments might be overwhelming, positive discipline becomes easier with time and practice. Before you know it, this will become second nature, and you’ll have broken a cycle of harsh discipline.
Connect before correcting
Before correcting any unwanted behavior, connect first. This might come in the form of eye contact, validation or even a hug. But by making your child feel good, they will be more likely to listen to what you have to say.
Narrate what your child is going through without casting blame or shaming the child. Simply relate the facts, allowing them to persevere and problem solve in a situation. “You want the toy car. Your brother wants the toy car too. You both look pretty sad. Pushing can really hurt.”
Letting your child know how they are feeling will deepen your connection, helping them feel understood and cared for. This is a great first step to any conversation or solution. “You seem really frustrated. It can be so hard not to have enough time to play more.”
Find a calming area (or make a calm down corner like this) to be together when your child is upset. This says to your child “I’m here to help you” vs. a traditional time-out, which is based in isolation.
Avoid ‘no’ or ‘don't’
Tell your child what to do rather than what not to do. "Take your hands off of the TV please” vs. “Don’t touch the TV”. This can apply to being told to “calm down” as well, check out some alternatives to the phrase here.
Offer a hug
A hug can help children from feeling defensive, often leading to better problem solving and conversation. Not all kids like hugs though, especially when upset, and that’s important to be in-tuned to. It’s one of our favorite calm down tools.
This is very powerful for young children. Rather than telling your child not to do something or "make them listen to you," redirect their attention to something else.
Kind AND firm
Positive discipline is not permissive. It’s ok to be firm, but it should always come from a place of love. Actually using the word "and" helps us remember this in the heat of the moment. “You want to play with dolls more, AND it’s time for dinner.”
Make eye contact when having a conversation with your child, and avoid lectures. Listen to their feelings, even if you might not agree. A one-sided conversation with your child will almost never go over well.
One on one time
Schedule uninterrupted time with your child. Time where there are no other distractions or phones. Find a simple activity and connect.
Not too tough right? Sometimes easier said than done, but you will begin to see the benefits of implementing some of these tactics almost immediately. Remember, parenting doesn’t have to be a power struggle or a dictatorship. Work together with your child and make them feel good, you will all reap the benefits of doing so in the long run.
Katie Chiavarone holds a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from NYU and is a mom to three young children. She co-authored the book The Undeniable Power of Play. This post is adapted from her blog, Views From a Step Stool.