Parenthood comes with a lot of joys and milestones. But it comes with a lot of responsibilities as well. We must ensure that we discipline our children while having a connected relationship. If you’re wondering how to raise a child without yelling or hitting, positive discipline is the answer.
But what is positive discipline and what are simple positive discipline methods we can apply when raising our children?
What Is Positive Discipline
Positive discipline is a parenting style that reinforces good behaviour and teaches discipline without physically or verbally hitting the child.
Positive discipline is a program that Dr Jane Nelsen developed, based on the works of Rudolf Dreikurs and Alfred Adler. It helps parents and caregivers raise children who are respectful, responsible, and resourceful members of the community.
Positive Discipline Methods
Here are the five criteria of Dr Nelsen’s positive discipline in toddlers and children
- Being kind and firm at the same time
- Connecting with children to help them feel a sense of belonging and significance
- Is effective for the long term, as opposed to punishment which works in the short-term
- Teaching social and life skills that build good character
- Teaching children their capability
These positive discipline methods come with tools and concepts that include mutual respect, communication, finding solutions instead of punishment, and encouragement instead of praise.
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Punishment vs. Discipline
Punishment and discipline are often used interchangeably, but they have very different meanings. Punishment is a penalty imposed on someone for wrongdoing, whereas discipline refers to the process of teaching someone to behave in a certain way.
Punitive or shaming discipline techniques can have serious long-term effects on a child’s development and well-being, and may lead to the following:
Damaged self-esteem: Punitive or shaming discipline can cause long-term damage to a child’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth.
Difficulty regulating emotions: Children who are frequently subjected to punitive or shaming discipline may struggle with emotional regulation later in life.
Poor problem-solving skills: Punitive or shaming discipline can prevent children from developing effective problem-solving skills, as they may become focused on avoiding punishment instead of finding solutions.
Strained relationships: Children who experience punitive or shaming discipline may have difficulty building and maintaining positive relationships with others, including their own children in the future.
Mental health issues: Research has linked punitive or shaming discipline to an increased risk of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and aggression in adulthood.
Positive discipline is a style of discipline that focuses on teaching and guiding children through positive reinforcement, clear communication, and redirection of misbehaviour rather than punishment or shaming. It encourages children to learn from their mistakes and make better choices in the future, rather than simply avoiding punishment.
Positive discipline helps to build strong relationships between parents or caregivers and children, as it fosters mutual respect, trust, and open communication.
10 Ways to Practice Positive Discipline at Home
Easier said than done? You can take small steps to adopt a more positive outlook for correcting your child in your home. Here are some examples of positive discipline you can do to foster a better relationship with your child.
Understand your child’s needs
If you are trying to get some grocery shopping done but junior is kicking up a fuss and having a meltdown in the middle of the dried goods aisle, try not to scold him or threaten him for acting out.
One positive discipline for toddlers you can apply is to figure out why he is behaving that way and what you can do to help him. Is he hungry, tired, bored, or uncomfortable?
Chances are that once you find out what is triggering this outburst, you can easily calm him down by tending to his needs and go about your errands again in peace.
Here are five strategies for redirecting misbehaviour and addressing the root cause of a child’s actions:
Identify the cause: Take the time to understand what may be causing the misbehaviour. Is your child seeking attention or struggling with a particular skill or task?
Communicate effectively: Talk with your child in a calm and respectful manner to understand their perspective and explain your expectations.
Offer positive alternatives: Provide your child with a range of positive alternatives to redirect their misbehaviour and encourage better choices.
Use natural consequences: Natural consequences allow children to learn from their mistakes without punishment, such as having to clean up a mess they made.
Stay consistent: Consistency is key to effective discipline. Establish clear boundaries and consistently reinforce positive behaviour to encourage lasting change.
Focus on your child’s behaviour
No parent would want their child to be kicking and screaming all the time. But instead of making a negative comment about them such as, “You are so naughty,” a better positive discipline in toddlers approach would be to put the focus on your child’s behaviour and actions.
For example, say: “I don’t like it when you throw your toys on the floor. I understand that you’re angry because the blocks keep falling over, but if you try again and keep practising, you can build a really tall tower soon.”
One of the effects of shaming a child is messages we send to our kids are internalised from childhood and will be ingrained in them to adulthood. So we should choose our words wisely.
How can you expect your child to display good behaviour if he picks up bad habits or words from you?
If you’re driving in the car and are feeling frustrated about the slow-moving traffic, refrain from banging your fists on the steering wheel while blaring the car horn or winding down the window to curse and swear at the other driver in the next lane.
Kids learn by imitating their parents or primary caregivers. So be careful with what you do or say around them because you’d be surprised at how quickly they will copy you and repeat it on the playground or at school!
Modelling positive behaviour as a parent or caregiver is an essential part of raising children who become responsible and respectful adults. Children learn through observation and are more likely to adopt behaviours that they see in their parents or caregivers.
By modelling positive behaviour, parents and caregivers can teach children how to communicate effectively, be kind, manage emotions, and solve problems in healthy ways. Furthermore, modelling positive behaviour can help children build self-confidence, strengthen their relationships with others, and develop a positive sense of self-worth.
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Do not compare your child to other children
It is tempting to point out another child’s good behaviour or achievements, thinking that this will push them into performing better and bucking up. But by doing so you can cause your child to feel stressed, and lower his self-esteem and self-worth. It can also make him pull away from social situations to avoid any interactions with you in public.
Remember that each child is unique and has his or her own strengths, so focus on this instead of putting them down for their shortcomings or comparing them to others.
Widen your child’s emotional vocabulary
Instead of cutting off all chances of dialogue, allow them to talk about their feelings and you as a parent should also acknowledge what they are going through.
For example, if your child is playing and pushes another child, after telling him in a gentle but firm way that you do not condone such behaviour, give him the opportunity to explain himself and thrash out his feelings.
Just like how you experience sadness, happiness, and anger, remember that kids have emotions too and there is nothing wrong with feeling that way — but teach them a better way to respond to these feelings.
One way to do this is to teach your child different emotions, and acknowledge them when they are feeling it. You can even play a “mirror game,” where you sit face-to-face and identify the emotions behind facial expressions.
Increasing your child’s emotional vocabulary can help him understand not just his own feelings, but others as well. This positive discipline for toddlers is something you can start as early as possible.
Although you may have good intentions by giving your child a label such as “drama queen” or “the athlete,” thinking that this is a term of endearment or by highlighting their skills and talents, it might make your child feel pressured to live up to this title even if they really agree with it.
It could also make your other children feel that since their sibling is already “the smart one”, therefore they must be the “not so smart one”.
It’s fine to help your child discover his strengths and identify his weaknesses, but you should give them the freedom to explore and develop their own character — so there is no need to give a label, because your kid is not part of the Spice Girls!
Nurture your child’s sense of self
Here is one easy positive discipline for parents. If you want your child to be a kind and caring person, then you need to let him know that you believe he can.
The effects of shaming a child can be negative and long-lasting. By lifting him up with positive words, you will help to nurture your little one’s sense of self and personal empowerment by treating him the way you would like him to treat others.
Your child’s self-esteem can be shaped by the perceptions and expectations of significant people in his life, and how he is thought of and treated by his parents, teachers, and friends.
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Give your child reasonable boundaries
Setting limits and boundaries can be done with connection, respect, and empathy. Limits are necessary especially for our child’s safety. So it is important to know what are your non-negotiables (crossing the road, touching electric sockets, hitting, etc.) while still giving your child room to discover.
Here are some tips for setting limits and reasonable boundaries
- Connect with your child by sitting and looking at him at eye level. Let him know you are on his side.
- Acknowledge his feelings and provide empathy. “You want to play with the socket, it’s frustrating that you cannot touch it. but I have to stop you. It is not safe.”
- Tell him what he can do instead. Giving your child choices empowers him but allows you to set boundaries. “You have so much energy! I can’t let you hit me but do you want to hit the pillows instead?”
It’s hard to keep your cool when faced with a child who is pushing their limits and acting out, but as a parent, you should stand your ground and stay strong when faced with such strong emotions.
Consistency in discipline is important to create a safe and predictable environment that promotes positive behaviour in children. When parents or caregivers provide consistent guidance, children know what to expect and are more likely to follow established rules and boundaries.
Inconsistent discipline, on the other hand, can be confusing for children and can send mixed messages about what is expected of them. This can lead to frustration, anxiety, and a lack of trust in the parent or caregiver. Avoiding mixed messages is equally important, as children may become unsure of how to behave if expectations are unclear or contradictory.
By providing consistent discipline and avoiding mixed messages, parents and caregivers can create a stable and supportive environment that encourages children to thrive.
So, how do you practice positive discipline and stay consistent while parenting your child through a tough situation?
For example, if you are not keen on letting your child go over to a friend’s house on a school night, be gentle but firm in your decision and explain to them that you get what they are going through, but rules are still rules.
By saying something like, “I know you were looking forward to going over to your friend’s house to play the new video game tonight, so you are feeling upset that you’ll have to wait until the weekend instead.”
You have acknowledged your child’s feelings and addressed the issue while reminding him that your decision still stands.
Instead of shaming your child and making negative remarks about him, it is important that you use your words in a positive way to push him to do better.
Rather than telling him off for scoring poorly in his exam, you should encourage him to work harder to improve himself and remind him that he is capable of such achievements.
By pointing out your child’s strengths and abilities, he will have the courage to reach for the stars.
We hope these examples of positive discipline help you have a better relationship with your child.
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