Positive discipline is based on a simple truth: Children’s brains are made for relationships, and when children feel connected, they are less likely to misbehave.
Positive discipline doesn’t just correct and prevent misbehavior; it helps children learn important life skills like self-esteem, responsibility, and the ability to make positive relationships.
Discipline is not the same as punishment. Positive discipline helps children, while physical punishment damages them.
With positive discipline, children learn:
- What you expect.
- How to control their own behavior.
- How to be responsible for their actions.
- What happens when they misbehave.
How to Do Positive Discipline
Five questions to ask yourself for using Positive Discipline:
- Is it kind and firm at the same time?
- Does it help children feel a sense of belonging and significance?
- Is it effective long-term?
- Does it teach valuable social and life skills for good character?
- Does it invite children to discover how capable they are – and to use their personal power in constructive ways?
Tools for positive discipline:
- Offer mutual respect. Be a role model who is both firm and kind, treating your child with respect even when you’re angry.
- Identify the belief behind the behavior (See This Chart). Recognize the reasons children do what they do – then work to change those beliefs. Don’t just try to change behavior. For example, your child may be trying to get your attention because she thinks she is only important when you are focusing on her.
- Use healthy communication. Help children develop problem-solving skills. When your child is not misbehaving, help him understand that you care about him and want to spend time with him. If your child is fighting over a toy, you can encourage him to “use his words” instead of hitting.
- Teach. Use tough times as a chance to teach new skills or new ideas. Focus on solutions instead of punishment.
- Encourage instead of praise. Notice effort and improvement, not just success. Help build long-term self-esteem and empowerment.