How children benefit from positive discipline

Positive discipline is a philosophy-based idea that there are no bad children, just good and bad behaviours.

How children benefit from positive discipline
 Instead of pointing out what your child did wrong, show your child how to set things right! | Photo by Joice Kelly on Unsplash

Positive discipline is a term used quite often these days by parents who are looking for gentler ways of disciplining their children.

What exactly is “positive discipline”, you may ask? Simply put, it is a way to teach and guide kids by telling them what is acceptable behaviour in a way that is both firm and kind. Numerous studies show that children who perceive their parents as both kind (responsive) and firm (demanding) are at a lower risk of acting out or misbehaving.

Changing the notion of discipline

The notion that discipline is linked with punishment is deeply embedded in our minds. When we hear the word “discipline,” the first thing we think of is usually something bad. Did you know, however, that the word discipline derives from the Latin word “discipline”, which means “instruction,” which comes from the Latin word “discipulus,” which literally translates to “pupil”?

For whatever reason, over the years, discipline has gone from meaning “to teach” to “to punish”! Today, we’ll look at “positive discipline,” a concept that focuses on going back to basics: when children do something wrong, instead of punishing them, parents teach and help them to correct their behaviour.

The history of positive discipline

Positive Discipline is a training programme developed in the 1980s in the United States by Dr Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott (family therapists). It is based on the work of two forerunners: Austrian psychiatrists Alfred Adler (1870-1937) and Rudolf Dreikurs (1897-1972).

The benefits of positive discipline

Positive discipline teaches kids responsibility, self-discipline, problem-solving skills, and how to work together. Children are encouraged to use their own power and autonomy in a positive way.

How to start practicing positive discipline

Here are five ways you can start implementing positive discipline in your home.

Give your child plenty of positive attention: Praising positive behaviour by being specific and ignoring minor naughtiness will encourage your child to seek positive attention.

Don’t give rewards straight away: Help teach your child the concept of delayed gratification. Your child learns that good behaviour can have positive consequences, but that not all rewards are given with immediate effect.

Be a good role model: Children learn by example. You can’t expect your child to clear their plate from the table if you leave your own plate on the table.

Tell them what you want: Ask your child for what you of them want rather than for what you don’t want. Say, “Please put your shoes away”, rather than saying: “Don’t throw your shoes on the bathroom floor”.

Give choices: When children are given choices, they are less likely to get frustrated and display naughty behaviour. For example, if your child is delaying their homework, acknowledge their challenge and offer them two choices: “I see you have quite a bit of homework tonight. How about having something to eat and then you can decide to get started on the homework and have a break later? Or would you prefer to have the break now and then do your homework?”