We hear the term “Positive Discipline” used frequently, but many parents are unsure exactly what this means, and why this form of discipline is the best for our kids.
The word discipline has origins in the Latin word disciplina, which means, “to teach.” Adapting this concept to raising children, I believe positive discipline means guiding, redirecting, and teaching our children in a way that opens them to be the best they can be. It’s like helping them grow the biggest set of wings possible.
The outcomes of positive discipline are to improve self-control, respect, responsibility, resourcefulness, and to deepen relationships. Through the growth of these capabilities, the development of a moral and ethical life happens, too.
Did you notice that I didn’t say one of the outcomes is to “be happy” or “successful?” When we live a life armed with awareness, skills to help ourselves and others and a will to be kind and love deeply, there is a good chance the happy days will outnumber the sad and scary ones and we’ll pick a vocation in life that suits us.
Positive discipline does not mean becoming a parenting doormat. It means redirecting our children when they do something inappropriate in a way that keeps our relationship with them intact.
Specifically, positive discipline means to guide our children with limits, boundaries and teaching without growing negative core beliefs in the process.
In order for discipline to work, parents need to remember these twelve positive discipline strategies:
1. Connect first. Redirect second. Children need to feel they belong and they matter before we redirect their behaviour.
2. Acknowledge emotions. Take time to experience, feel and identify the emotions in your children (and you, too).
3. Consider what needs your child is trying to meet. Ask yourself this question, “I wonder why my child did that?”
4. Be kind and firm. Deliver your instructions and boundaries without being sharp.
5. Be mindful of both immediate and long-term goals. How can you curb unwanted behaviour right now without growing relationship rifts or negative core beliefs down the road?
6. Teach the ways of the world and your house (social, life, safety skills). For example, what are the “away spots” for everyone’s belongings? What house jobs can each family member do to help pitch in? How do we use things in the house without damaging them?
7. Inspire problem solving. Involve your child when discussing, “Hmmm… What are our options now?”
8. Encourage capability. Don’t rush to rescue your children from struggles. The process of correcting mistakes, figuring something out and finally getting things right is a wonderful teacher/ motivator.
9. Reduce compromising states. Do your absolute best to reduce hunger, exhaustion, tiredness and over-stimulation. Everyone does better when they are full (spiritually, emotionally, and physically). Create space for rest, play and outside time.
10. Focus on what your child can do rather than what s(he) cannot. For example, turn “No! Stop running” into “Walking feet.”
11. Reel in the stinkin’ thinkin.’ Control your reptilian brain while helping your child to do the same (that’s called self-regulation). Don’t provoke the cobra!
12. Know when to get out of the way. Give your children space to find and use their own voice.
Notice the words “preach” or “lecture” or “nag” are not on this list! Actually, the best positive discipline often happens using the fewest number of words.
Using these twelve basic strategies, parents can use positive communication approaches to helping grow their child’s brains, bodies, and hearts. Those approaches are best explained with hands-on examples so I recommend looking at these books and Facebook pages for more information (click on the author’s names to see their Facebook pages):
Also my Facebook page where I post positive discipline tricks and tips every day.