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Positive Discipline Children

Positive Discipline: Good Behavior is Learned

Some people shudder at the word “discipline” but it is not (or doesn’t have to be) a negative thing! According to an article published by the Extension Alliance for Better Child Care, “Discipline is a positive method of teaching a child self-control, confidence, and responsibility.” It is about teaching a child what behavior is okay and what behavior is not okay. The focus is on what children are expected and allowed to do. As the adults, we should be consistently modeling appropriate behavior and pointing out/praising children’s appropriate behavior.

Many people confuse discipline and punishment. Punishment may be physical or psychological and focuses on past misbehavior. This strategy offers little or nothing to help a child behave better in the future.

Discipline, or more specifically, positive discipline is not a single act. It is a process. Children are held responsible for misbehavior, but the consequences are meaningful and related to the behavior. Positive discipline emphasizes mutual respect and utilizes positive instructions. Studies consistently show that using positive discipline yields better outcome in terms of the child’s behavior, emotional growth, academic performance and mental health.

Tips & Tricks

Anticipate and eliminate opportunities for misbehavior

Sticking to a general routine is a great way to prevent misbehavior. Warn children before a big transition, let them know what’s coming next and most important, be very clear about your expectations.

Focus On The Reasons Behind The Action

There is always a reason why children misbehave even though the reason may seem silly to the parents. Behavior has a function. It could be a reaction to an overwhelming emotion, like frustration. It could be attention-seeking behavior. It could be because your expectations are not reasonable. So, before you react, take a few moments to identify the reasons behind the behavior.

Use positive language (instead of punishment).

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Punishment produces Four Rs that do not help a child learn – Resentment, Rebellion, Revenge and Retreat. A positive, non-punitive response is much better at settling an overstimulated child and engaging her in learning new behavior. See the chart on the right for ways to use more positive phrases with children.

Make misbehavior a learning opportunity

When children are old enough to reason (older than three), every misbehavior can be turned into a life lesson. For instance, what do we learn when we break a toy out of frustration? We don’t get to play with that toy anymore. It’s a great opportunity to talk about what we could/should do next time we feel frustrated. Also, refrain from replacing the toy with a new one right off the bat. Let the child feel the repercussions of that misbehavior.

For more information on positive discipline and positive parenting, visit: