How do you discipline your child?  Do you use praise to reinforce positive behavior and punish to stop the negative behavior? Do you ask your child to face the wall and think about his actions when he/she misbehaves? Or do you resort to punishment like spanking?

These techniques are commonly used by the parents to get their children to obey and follow the rules.  If you use these discipline techniques, you may consider trying positive discipline instead.                                 

Positive discipline has become more discussed and practiced over recent years. You may have heard of it from a family member, read an article or book about it, or perhaps seen it on social media. 

Some people think that positive parenting is merely being permissive and let the children control the situation.  Before you pass judgment, whether this type of discipline will work in your family, let's discuss what positive discipline is all about.

What is Positive Discipline?

Positive discipline emphasizes the development of the parents and their children's relationship through open communication and mutual respect.  It helps to teach children how to become respectful and responsible members of the family and the community. 

According to the recent researched cited by Positive Discipline,  children who have healthy relationships and a sense of belongingness to the community tend to misbehave less.  Hence, the positive discipline focuses on teaching the children the social and life skills they need to establish and maintain relationships and contribute to the community.  It also emphasizes not only the expected behavior but also the rationale behind it.

Here are tips on how you can discipline your child without yelling and hitting. 

Tips to Apply Positive Discipline At Home 

1.     Look at the big picture.

Children act out or misbehave for a reason.  As parents, we need to identify the reason behind their behavior and address the real cause.  Otherwise, if we reprimand them for their actions, they will do it again.

If your child shouts or hits, check if it's sibling rivalry or jealousy that is triggering it. You need to reassure your child that he/she is loved and spend quality time with him/her.

 If your child is whining, check if he/she needs something.   For instance, toddlers act out if they are sleepy, tired, or hungry.  You can easily prevent the whining and tantrums by sticking to the child's routine.

2.     Layout the rules and consequences. 

Young children sometimes do things because they are not yet aware of what is right and wrong. While they are young, the parents are their moral compass.  Be present in teaching them and guiding them, so they become aware of good conduct.

Invest time to talk with your child about the rules and proper etiquette calmly and clearly.  For better understanding, use age-appropriate words. Also, try to explain to them the possible consequences if they disobey.  

3.     Positively phrase the rules and reminders. 

When you give rules to your child, how do you phrase it?  Sometimes parents do not notice, but the initial statement for rules starts with "Don't." Parents' initial instinct is to say "No" when they see their child disobeying rules.

Parents need to be more intentional in how they communicate their rules and call out misbehaviors.  Try to state the rules and reminders positively.

Instead of saying, "Don't Run," try saying, "Walk."  You may also say, "Stay still" instead of "Stop moving." These are examples of how you can phrase the rules without sounding so negative.  Remember that your kids will most likely remember the first action word you say. 

4.     Be consistent, firm, and kind.


Once you have laid out the rules, ensure that both parents are consistent in implementing it.  Make sure that you are firm with your decisions and make sure that you communicate it with kindness.

Being firm and kind fosters mutual respect.  It is necessary to be firm in showing respect to yourselves and for the situation.  It is also important to show kindness to show your respect to your child.  

Note, though, that kindness does not mean you will say "Yes" to everything your child wants or save them from the stress at all times.  Being kind means acknowledging their feelings, both positive and negative.

5.     Redirect your child. 

Parents get a headache once their toddlers start saying "No" to everything. Guess what? they learn to say No from their parents.

Hence,  if you have a young toddler, try to redirect his/her attention to another object or activity instead of saying No.  For instance, if your child wants to play with an unsafe item, offer other toys that may be interesting to him/her.  You may also try to give the child a new environment by moving to another room in the house, or going to the garden.

6.     Model the behavior. 

Modeling is the best teacher because children learn best from what they observe.  You can't expect your child to do something if he/she sees you doing otherwise. 

7.     Allow your child to experience natural consequences.

Children remember lessons through actual experiences.  If you let them explore and make their own mistakes, they will realize their actions' natural consequences.  For instance, if your preschooler does not want to wear his hat and mittens during winter, he will feel cold and will remember this consequence next time. 

When you let your child experience natural consequences, ensure that your child is safe from harm or accidents. 

8.     Listen to your child's thoughts 

Communication is integral in positive discipline.   To foster good communication and relationship between you and your child, you need to be an active listener.

Active listening takes practice, and the next time your child is acting out and is having big emotions, remember to practice the following:

-        Focus on your child.  Set aside any distractions like phones, toys, or laptops.

-        Set aside your judgments and your agenda

-        Listen to your child.

-        Acknowledge their feelings.  Remember, their feelings are valid and genuine to them. 

-        Allow your child to process his/her feelings and come up with a conclusion.

Remember, the goal is to make your child feel that his/her feelings and thoughts are important and that he/she can talk to you anytime.  Through time your child will also learn how to be an active listener through your example.

Through positive discipline, both parents and children will feel respected, confident, and valued.  The long-term result will be a stronger bond and relationship within the family. 

We hope that we have encouraged you to bring home and practice the positive discipline at home.  If you have first-hand experience in positive discipline, please send your stories and encouragements in the comment box below.

Tiny Steps

We play, learn and grow with children. 

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