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Encouraging positive discipline doesn’t have to be hard. Read this

Team StoryWeavers|June 21, 2022, 17:33 IST|

what is positive discipline?

“Self-respect is the root of discipline: The sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.”

― Abraham Joshua Heschel

For most of us, the words ‘parenting’ and ‘discipline’ go together. Most parents feel that they need to correct their children’s behaviour by disciplining them. After all, it helps children become better versions of themselves. However, the way of disciplining children differs from parent to parent. In most households,  discipline involves punishment and control over a child’s behaviour.  

But, it does not have to be that way. There is an approach to discipline that does not rely on punishment or control, and it is termed as ‘Positive Discipline.’ 

In this article, we will cover:

(Click to read the section)

What is positive discipline?

According to the book, Positive Discipline A-Z, positive discipline is about instructing, educating, preparing, regulating, skill building, and focusing on solutions. It is encouraging, helping, loving, and optimistic in nature and is about mutually respectful relationships and cooperation. The focus here is to balance firmness with kindness while being respectful to the needs of the child.

A book, Positive Discipline for Today’s Busy (and Overwhelmed) Parent, lists a few questions that can help parents understand positive discipline better: 

  • Is it respectful? Is it kind and firm at the same time?
  • Does it help the child feel a sense of belonging (connection) and allow them to feel like significant members of the family (contribution)?
  • Is it effective in the long term? 
  • Does it teach the child valuable social and life skills necessary for developing a good character? 
  • Does it invite the child to discover their capabilities? Does it allow the child to use their power constructively?

child discipline

Eight things parents need to know about positive discipline

Here are a few principles of positive discipline that every parent needs to know before they start practising it in their everyday lives. Jane Nelson’s book, Positive Discipline for Preschoolers, mentions a few building blocks of positive discipline. Dr Jane Nelson got her doctorate degree in Educational Psychology from the University of San Francisco in 1979. She is the co-founder of a worldwide training program that has certified many people as Positive Discipline Facilitators through Positive Discipline Association in over seventy countries. 

  • Mutual respect. Parents need to model firmness by respecting the needs of the situation. They must model respect by respecting the needs and humanity of their children. 
  • Understanding the belief behind the behaviour. All behaviour is goal-oriented. Parents need to make an effort to understand the child’s motivation behind their behaviour. It is important to deal with the motivation behind the behaviour as well as the behaviour itself. Changing behaviour is much easier if you understand the motivating factors behind it. 
  • Effective communication. Parents need to model listening for their children too, like any other skill. Even younger children can learn to respectfully ask for what they want. Children often hear better when they are invited to participate in a discussion instead of just being told what to do. 
  • Understanding a child’s world. Children’s needs differ as per their developmental stages. Presence or absence of certain social and emotional skills also impact the child’s behaviour. When parents understand these factors, they can respond to the child’s behaviour in a better way. 
  • Discipline that teaches. Effective discipline is about teaching children valuable life and social skills. It is not about permission, control, or punishment. 
  • Focusing on solutions instead of punishments. Parents need to approach challenges as problems and need to focus on finding solutions instead of blaming others. Parents can try to work together with their children to find respectful and helpful solutions. 
  • Encouragements. Celebrating small improvements and efforts makes children feel more confident about themselves and their abilities. 
  • Children do better when they feel better. Making children feel pain, shame or humiliation does not make them behave better. Children are more likely to cooperate, learn new skills, and be respectful to others when they feel loved, encouraged, and connected. 

The purpose of discipline is to teach children. Positive discipline focuses on doing it through respect and connection. Parents can incorporate positive discipline in their everyday lives through understanding, communication, and encouragement. 

Are you interested in trying out this positive discipline approach? Have you tried it before? Do you think an article on how to implement positive discipline will help you explore this approach further? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. You could also drop a note to [email protected] 

References:

  • Nelson, J., Bill, K., & Marchese, J. (2018). Positive Discipline for Today’s Busy (and Overwhelmed) Parent. 
  • Nelson, J., Erwin, C., & Duffy, R. A. (2007). Positive Discipline for Preschoolers. 
  • Nelson, J., Lott, L., & Glenn, S. (2007). Positive Discipline A-Z: 1001 Solutions to Everyday Parenting Problems. 

About the Author


“Me-kha-la!” That happens at least once when she introduces herself to new people. She wholeheartedly believes in the quote by Arthur Rubinstein that says – “if you love life, life will love you back”. She is an organizational psychologist and psychometrician. She was a class teacher of 36 adorable girls for two years, grades 2 & 3, as a part of the Teach For India Fellowship. These little girls have a special place in her heart, and when she writes for children, she writes for them!

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