what is positive discipline

What is Positive Discipline: A Beginners Guide for 2021

Last Updated on September 2, 2021.

When you hear the word discipline what comes to mind? For many people, discipline is associated with punishment. The idea of disciplining a child often involves yelling at them and making them feel bad about themselves. But there’s a better way. In this blog post, we will talk about what positive discipline is, what it looks like in practice, and how you can teach your own children to be more disciplined without resorting to punishments that don’t work!

What is discipline, exactly?

Discipline means to teach. If you are disciplined, you’re a disciple of your teacher. Discipline is not the same thing as punishment. Discipline is what we do to help children learn how to behave in a way that is socially acceptable. It helps them make wise choices and decisions for themselves, but it also teaches them the skills they need to be successful on their own as adults.

What is positive discipline?

Positive discipline is a way of teaching children what they should do instead of what they shouldn’t. Positive discipline focuses on the child’s needs and strengths and teaches them how to solve problems rather than expecting adults to come in with all the answers for their every need.

When we use positive discipline, we are using an approach that is respectful, understanding, and patient. We are able to give children what they really need: the tools to solve their own problems.

RELATED: What is conscious discipline? How do you use it?

Why is positive discipline effective?

Positive discipline is effective because it teaches children what they should do instead of what they shouldn’t. Positive discipline is a method that reinforces positive behavior while focusing on the good in each child.

The result is a child who feels capable of solving their own problems and being successful on their own, without the need for outside intervention.

Kids who are raised using positive discipline strategies are confident, self-sufficient, and able to make good decisions for themselves. Also, it instills a sense of intrinsic motivation, rather than relying on external motivation.

What are examples of positive discipline?

Positive discipline seems a little abstract for some parents. It might be easier to give some specific examples. Here’s what positive discipline might look like:

  • telling children what to do instead of what not to do
  • acknowledging the good in the child by praising them for their efforts
  • using natural and logical consequences that teach a lesson without resorting to anger, yelling, or ridicule.
  • creating a peaceful environment in the home
  • using what is called “time in” where children are given time to connect with you to calm down when they’re angry

How do I use a positive discipline approach?

Implementing a positive discipline approach takes a little bit of a paradigm shift. You’ll need to start thinking of what you want to teach your children in terms of what they need, rather than what they should or shouldn’t do. You’ll also have to be patient and understanding when things get difficult for them–even when it feels like it should be easy!

Here are 10 tips you can use to practice positive discipline

Set a good example

Kids emulate what they see. They rarely do what we say if we don’t follow our own advice. Set a good example.

Set limits

Children need limits. It’s how they learn what’s acceptable. If you don’t set limits, kids won’t know what they’re allowed to do and also what isn’t appropriate. Be clear about what happens if your child doesn’t follow rules. They need to learn that there will always be a consequence for their actions.

Use consequences

Your children need consequences. Consequences are what happens when a rule is broken. When you don’t use consequences, what will your child learn? That they can do anything and get away with it? And it’s important to always follow through. If your kids think there’s a way to get around the consequence, they’ll continue to push the limit. If you want to create effective consequences, check out our guide here.

Practice active listening

Active listening is what you do when a child shares what they’re feeling or what’s on their mind. It can help them feel heard and understood, which will make it easier for your kids to share what’s bothering them the next time an issue comes up.

RELATED: How Positive Parenting Can Encourage Personal Development

Connect daily

A child’s primary goal is to feel connected. They’ll do anything to get your attention, even if it means misbehaving for negative attention. If you proactively give them plenty of positive attention, they’re less likely to misbehave.

Know when to ignore behaviors

Sometimes kids just want to get a rise out of you. They might say hurtful things or laugh when you’re mad. Know when to simply ignore their tactics. Usually, these are the mildly annoying habits they use to get us to respond. If you don’t get them a hit of attention for their naughty behavior, then they’re unlikely to repeat those behaviors.

RELATED: What’s the right reaction to swearing?

Be proactive

Kids need to know what’s expected of them. It can be hard for children to anticipate what you want from them, so it helps if they have clear expectations and boundaries. Plan ahead, especially for situations you know are difficult for your kids.

Use the redirect

The redirect and distract technique is what you do when your child does something they shouldn’t. Simply say “no,” redirect them to what they should be doing, and provide a distraction. Most of the time, this will work without escalating into an argument or power struggle.

Encourage emotional development

Kids need to learn what their feelings are and what they mean. Kids can’t manage their emotions if they don’t know what’s happening inside them, so encourage children to talk about what they’re feeling when something upsets them or makes them angry.

You can help kids grow emotionally by reading books about feelings, practicing calming strategies, and using the time-in technique.

RELATED: Why Threats Don’t Work in the Long Term

The Bottom Line

Positive discipline helps children feel cared for and understood. It means teaching them what they need in a way that’s kind, not what they should or shouldn’t do. And it’s a great parenting strategy to raise kids who thrive.

What You Should Do Next…

1. Snag Our Connected Parent Challenge

Are you ready for more activities to build a rock-solid bond with your kids? Try our Connected Parent Challenge! It’s 15 Days of 15 Minute activities that are sure to improve your connection, diminish bad behavior, and create lasting memories. Plus, I’ll deliver more amazing parenting strategies to your inbox weekly (don’t worry, unsubscribe any time!).

2. Join Our Free Online Community

Connect with like-minded moms (and dads!) in our free online community. You’ll find a plethora of resources to help you through your parenting challenges. Plus, you’ll find me there! And I’d love to connect.

3. Take a Free 60-Minute Parenting Webinar

Do you need actionable strategies right now? Register for this free 60-minute webinar titled How to Get Kids to Listen, Without Nagging, Yelling or Losing Control. You’ll walk away with parent-tested tactics to get your kids to listen starting today.

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