Parenting and Positive Discipline
Parenting and Positive Discipline
Parenting doesn’t need to be a war between you and your child. When it comes to discipline, there is a positive way to alter your child’s behavior without bribes and threats. Effective discipline is proactive, and it encourages positive actions and personal responsibility. It promotes your child’s self-esteem and appropriate development. Most importantly, positive discipline will strengthen the relationship between you, your child, and their siblings.
Why Children Misbehave
Kids truly do mean well and do their best to behave. Sometimes they’ll fall short of our behavioral expectations. When this occurs, it’s our job as parents to determine the reason behind the misbehavior. Consider why they might be acting out or hitting people, and what unmet needs might be underlying this behavior. There are several factors contributing to both your child’s behavior and your reaction. Consider the following:
- What is the specific behavior?
- How do you feel about it?
- What is your personality type? Your child’s?
- Why do you think they’re behaving this way?
- Where is the behavior occurring? Who is there when it happens?
- Is anything impacting or preventing your response to it?
Positive Discipline Strategies
Positive discipline trains children to behave without resorting to bribes, threats, yelling, or even physical actions. The following strategies will teach you how to channel your child’s energy (and yours) into a more desirable outcome:
Refrain from saying “no”- There’s something about being told “no” that makes children (or adults) want to do something all the more. Your child may stop listening and tune you out as soon as you say it. Instead, offer an alternative to the negative behavior. For example, let’s say your child is coloring on your wall. Rather than yelling, “No,” try a different approach such as, “Let’s do a picture together in your new coloring book. Then, it can be a surprise for Grandma.”
Control yourself- Children watch their parents. You’re modeling for them what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior, and children will learn the most from what your actions demonstrate. If you yell, they will also. Be mindful of what upsets you and makes you anxious. Take steps to remain calm and keep the situation from escalating. Your kids will notice.
Consistency- We sometimes overlook or address behaviors based on the situation and our own energy level. This can confuse a child. When we are clear on our expectations and consistent, children are less likely to test the limits. Be simple in your directions. If you’re using a chart or another method to track their behavior, make sure it’s not too difficult for the child to understand.
Good behavior counts- Too often we give our kids more attention when they misbehave. When we choose to ignore negative behaviors, like whining, and highlight a good behavior instead, we show our kids what we truly value. Because kids crave attention, they will automatically do whatever gets most attention whether good or bad. The key is to recognize and encourage your child when their inappropriate behavior stops, or when the exhibit the desired behavior. Use wisdom; if a child appears likely to cause harm to self, others or property do not ignore the negative behavior.
Avoid bribery- When we offer our children bribes as incentives, they don’t associate good behavior as the reward itself. Help your child see that good behavior and choices bring their own rewards.
Give options- There’s nothing wrong with giving your child choices. For example: If a child is fighting with their sibling, explain to them you only have enough energy to either listen to their squabble or do something fun later. This gives your children the choice rather than turning the situation into a bribe.
Rewards- Incentives can be powerful motivators for positive behavior.
Responsibility- Trusting children to take care of certain tasks should be seen as a privilege. Responsibility is a reward in itself. When it is framed this way, children will naturally desire to behave in a positive manner to gain more responsibilities.
Your attention- Giving a child your love, understanding, and attention is the best reward for any child. Setting aside time every day to spend with your child is the best way to influence their lives.
Raising healthy, well-behaved children takes time, consistency, and patience. Long-term habits in anyone’s life require time, and children are no exception. The best results are not always immediate. Stick with it and continue reinforcing your commitment. Loving your child is always a worthwhile investment with life-long returns.
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