The first instinct of any parent when their children make a mistake is to punish them. However, many parents who resort to the traditional form of punishment such as humiliating and belittling their kids or beating them often feel guilty, exhausted, and terrible at the end. This is where positive discipline comes in!
Jane Nelsen, the author of the Positive Discipline Book pointed out,
When a limit is broken, don’t lecture or punish. Continue respectful involvement with the child. Avoid telling what happened and what should be done about it.”
She attested that parents should engage with their children to find out the root of the problem before taking a prompt action like the punishment. Even if they feel the need to punish their children, they should look for positive ways of disciplining them.
The basic principles of positive disciplining involve communication, finding solutions to misbehavior, and building positive reinforcement. In this article, we will outline the common mistakes made by parents when it comes to punishment, along with highlighting the importance of positive discipline and how to effectively implement it.
What is Positive Discipline?
Positive discipline follows a series of techniques that help to guide children to forgo their misbehavior by instilling a strong sense of responsibility and respect. It starts with teaching children important social and life skills in a manner that is respectful and encouraging. For the parents, it offers alternative ways to discipline their children without inflicting any form of severe punishment.
The earliest history of positive discipline techniques goes back to the work of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs in the 1920s. Their techniques primarily focused on implementing positive discipline in the classroom.
Jane Nelsen first wrote and self-published Positive Discipline in 1981 highlighting the five criteria for positive discipline which are as follows:
- Parents should be kind and firm at the same time which attests to the fact that they should be respectful and encouraging.
- They must help children feel a sense of belonging and significance by building connections.
- Rely on effective Long-Term measures of disciplining by preventing punishment that only works for a short period of time and has prolonging negative effects.
- Teach valuable social and life skills in children by instilling respect, concern for others, problem-solving, accountability, contribution, cooperation.
- Invite children to explore their capability by using their personal power in constructive ways.
It was common for parents to practice corporal punishment at home, a form of punishment in which physical force is often used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort. Different forms of child abuse such as beating, scalding, and burnings were common. They didn’t find it wrong because they strongly believed in its effectiveness. It took long years of research, practice, and implementation to make them believe that there are no bad kids but just bad behavior.
Why Positive Discipline is important?
The long-term effects of negative disciplining such as yelling, spanking, guilt-tripping, or the silent treatment instill behavioral issues in children which continues until their adulthood. Positive discipline highlights the problems of punishment which are short-lived.
Positive Discipline is important because,
- It teaching children responsibility, self-discipline, problem-solving skills, and cooperation.
- It instills respect in both children and adults.
- It helps to build trust and strengthen relationships.
- It builds and maintains self-esteem in children.
- It teaches them to effectively manage their emotions and deal with stress in healthy ways.
- It invites them to contribute in meaningful ways and foster a sense of significance.
What are some Positive Discipline techniques?
We have highlighted ten effective methods to address behavioral issues through positive discipline techniques.
1. Find the core of the problem
As a parent, you must first understand that your kids aren’t bad but are behaving badly. The first thing parents do when their children make a mistake is reprimand them. Calling them a ‘bad person’ may reinforce the negative image in you and your child’s mind.
You must first find out different stress triggers that may have made them act out in such a way by reasoning with them with curiosity questions like,
- What happened?
- What do you think may have caused that to happen?
- What did you learn that will help you next time?
By instilling fear in your kids, you’re pushing them away from you. Positive discipline helps to find the solution to the problem at the early stage of a child’s development. It will help you address positive discipline for preschoolers or positive discipline for toddlers.
2. Instead of pointing out what they did wrong, show them how to set things right
We are quick to judge their action by pointing out their mistakes; instead, positive discipline reinforces the idea that instead of telling what they did wrong, you can show them how to correct it.
For example, if you notice that your child is about to inflict pain on an animal or another person, the first thing you would tell them is “Don’t Hit” or “Stop.” Although it may prevent their action, it doesn’t give any information to them what they should be doing instead. Without the proper knowledge, they are more likely to do it again or when you’re not around.
Tell them “It wasn’t the right choice, we don’t inflict pain on others,” instead. This may help to foster compassion in them.
3. Be kind but firm
When your children resist your mode of a disciple, the best thing you can do is stand your ground, be kind but firm like you can keep repeating your instruction, “That wasn’t a good choice, we don’t inflict pain on other,” or keeping trying a variation of it. This will help to show some empathy towards your kid.
4. Whenever possible, offer choices
After you’re through with offering compassion and empathy, you can escalate the process by offering them choices. Giving choices in such a situation offers your child a sense of control; however, you must be wary about the choices you offer them.
Try something like “If you want, you can make them feel better by giving them a hug or saying them sorry?” or “Do you want to say sorry and continue playing with them?”
5. Treat their mistakes as opportunities to learn
With every new mistake, your child can learn something. Ensure to take this opportunity to rebuild the compassion in them. You can use examples from past behavior such as “Do you remember when you fell off from the swing and how much it hurt? It made you sad. When you hit someone, it hurts them the same way.”
6. Prevent the misbehavior from repeating
Prevention is better than cure! Although clichéd, this applies to your situation better than anything else. The most difficult thing is to prevent your child from committing the same mistake. One of the effective ways to prevent the misbehavior from keeps repeating is by changing the scene.
If your child is likely to commit the same mistake if they are in a certain situation, time or place, you can consider changing it to something else like if they resist brushing their teeth in the bathroom, you can take them out in the garden or balcony where they can engage with the vibrant outdoor view that will break the monotony.
7. Set clear expectation and be consistent
The same old rules don’t always remain equally effective. A young child may take your instructions positively, however as they start to age they will start finding loopholes and pushing boundaries to commit similar mistakes. If you prevent your kid to watch TV before completing their school assignments, you should be firm about it even when they step into early teens and start enjoying new privileges.
8. Use single reminders, instead of demanding compliance
It’s common for kids to stop following or forget what they have instructed to after a while. As they begin to grow, they tend to resist more. Another reason for this is monotony. If your kid suddenly stopped switching off the lights after going to the bathroom, you can redirect your instruction by using a single word “Light” or “bathroom.”
Another effective way to remind them that they should switch off the light each time after using the bathroom is by asking them a question, “What do we do after we have come out of the bathroom?” It works almost all the time.
9. Work together to find a solution
It gives you an opportunity to engage and interact with your kid. If you notice your kid misbehaving or offsetting weird behavior, you can sit with them and talk about it.
Take about their feelings and needs, and about your feeling and need. You should brainstorm together to find a mutually agreeable solution. You can come up with many alternatives, however, take suggestions from both sides to find the right one.
10. Let them face the consequences
Although it may sound heavy, you should let them face the consequences of their action. If your kid insists on watching television without eating their meal, you can let them do that instead of grounding them in their room. After the first few times, they will realize that missing meals really makes them go to bed hungry.
After a while, you’ll realize that positive discipline is a life-long process. It doesn’t end with your child growing into a teen or after they have reached their adulthood. With positive discipline in the first three years of their life, they are more likely to continue with correcting their own bad habits.
If you’re interested, you can get live feed from positive discipline conference 2020 which is being held from July 27 to August 5, 2020, through https://positivediscipline.org/