Your child needs your help as their caregiver to understand proper behavior. Positive discipline techniques can help you guide your child toward correct behaviors while strengthening your bond and building mutual respect.
The positive discipline approach focuses on teaching and guiding children about what behavior is expected. Research shows that children learn best when they feel safe and connected in their relationships. Focusing on developing these strong relationships first puts children in the best position to follow established rules. Positive discipline is about maintaining boundaries in a calm way when children misbehave and is one aspect of the positive parenting approach, which you can read more about in our previous article.
If you’d like to incorporate positive discipline into your parenting approach, here are four key methods you can try out:
Redirect: If your child is acting out or doing something that’s potentially harmful, try to distract them until they’ve calmed down. Encourage them to play with a toy they love. Point out something interesting around them. Children’s attention spans are short, so redirecting them to another activity can help avoid a tantrum. Once they’ve calmed down, you can help them understand their big feelings and talk through ways they could behave appropriately in the future.
Reward and praise good behavior: Children love getting the attention of their caregiver. By showering them with praise when they meet your expectations, you’re encouraging them to repeat that behavior.
Set clear expectations and consequences ahead of bad behavior: Consistently communicate with your child about the rules you expect them to follow. Calmly and firmly explain the consequences if they don't behave, and be prepared to follow through every time.
Swap time outs for time ins: If you find that your child does not respond well to time outs, try a time in. Rather than sending your child to the corner alone, try reading together or doing a simple, calming activity. Once they’ve settled down, talk about what choices they can make next time, and encourage them to apologize for their behavior.
Communicating clearly, consistently, and calmly with your child about your expectations for them is the foundation of positive discipline. It’s normal for children to push boundaries, but over time, your guidance will help them learn important discipline skills that will lessen misbehavior.