In this section, you will learn how to implement effective strategies for disciplining your child.
The learning objectives for this section are:
- Identify the basis of effective discipline.
- Distinguish between positive and negative approaches to discipline.
- Explain effective strategies to discipline your child.
- Identify when you may need to get help.
Discipline is more than just correcting behaviors. It’s a way to teach your child how to achieve self-discipline.
With effective and appropriate discipline, you will ensure that your child will have the proper tools to take care of themselves throughout life.
Select the Play Button to review Edwin's daughter talk about how she benefits from discipline.
A Positive Approach to Discipline
What forms of discipline do you use in your home?
Whether you use time-out, praise and rewards, or withdraw privileges, disciplining your child may sometimes feel like a tug-of-war.
Disciplining your child with a positive approach focuses on how to teach your child rather than winning a battle with them.
Select the Learn More Button to understand the key parts of a positive approach.
What is a Positive Approach?
A positive approach to discipline focuses more on your child's positive behavior and makes their emotional health a priority.
Play the Paint Game to learn more about the practices of a positive approach by sorting the items in the exercise. Select the Start Button to begin.
A Good Foundation for A Positive Approach
Before you can implement a positive approach, you must consider your relationships – with your child and with your child’s other parent.
Your relationships with your loved ones and your own emotional awareness are the foundation for effective discipline.
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Take time to establish your day-to-day relationship with your child. Try not to rush things, and don’t expect everything to be back to normal quickly. Remember, you can improve your relationship with your child no matter how rocky the relationship is now. Find more help in the Communication section.
A Positive Approach Considers Age Differences
One key feature of a positive approach is to consider age differences. Some discipline strategies work better with different ages.
Select your child’s age group to review some discipline guidelines.
Babies need safety and reassurance, not discipline. Crying or fussing means an infant needs you in some way, not that they are being "bad." Remember, you can't spoil babies.
Toddlers respond best to praise and attention. Distract your child or remove them from the situation when they misbehave. When necessary, give immediate and simple consequences that are related to the behavior.
Preschoolers can begin to learn by talking and reasoning. Talk about feelings and begin teaching healthy coping strategies. Praise positive behavior. Keep rules simple, and be consistent in consequences for breaking rules.
School-age children are growing in their self-control and ability to make choices. Begin to involve them in setting up rules and consequences. Give them the chance to “make things right” when they break rules. Gradually increase responsibilities.
Model the behavior you expect from your children. Teenagers are especially aware of differences between what you SAY and DO. With teenagers, listen more than you talk. As long as they are safe, let the results of the behavior be the consequence.
A Positive Approach Avoids Spanking
Another key feature of a positive approach is to avoid spanking. While we all agree punishment is at times a necessary part of discipline, spanking is not the only option you have. Research has shown that spanking does more harm than good.
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Effective Discipline Strategies
Parents, just like yourself, often ask: "What type of discipline will work for my child?"
Although no disciplinary strategy will work with every child, every time, a positive approach to discipline has been proven to be very effective.
Select the Learn More Button to review each strategy in detail.
Attention and Praise
Discipline starts with attention and praise. These two strategies can strengthen your relationship with your child.
Often parents focus more on negative behavior, so praising the positive behaviors in day-to-day life is very important.
Praise also includes rewards. Rewards can be challenging to think of in the moment. Creating a reward list in advance may help. Use these suggestions to create your own list . Once done, print your list.
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When you need to set up rules or give guidance, you can use the limit-setting strategy. Without limits, children can feel both overly powerful and completely out of control.
The key to setting limits is communicating the rule and following through if it is broken.
Select the Play Button to review Edwin talk about setting limits with his daughter.
Using Positive Consequences and Praise
If your child follows through on your request or displays positive behavior, you can use the positive consequences strategy.
Consequences are the actions that follow your child’s behavior. Positive consequences, such as praise and reward, are given for positive behavior.
Sometimes praise is called "Catching them being good." When your child does something kind, thoughtful, or positive, tell them you noticed. Often parents focus more on negative behavior, so praising the positive behaviors in day-to-day life is very important.
Using Negative Consequences
Negative consequences, or punishment, are best used for negative behaviors. They may include:
- Withdrawal of privileges.
- Ignoring the child.
- Time Out.
- Taking responsibility for misbehavior.
Select Each Image for a quick overview of these strategies.
Summary and Conclusion
Children explore, play, and make mistakes. The important thing to remember is not to be afraid of your child's misbehavior. Instead, exercise patience and use these times as an opportunity to ensure they learn from these experiences, using the strategies reviewed in this section.
Remember, a positive approach to discipline can help your child learn essential life skills that will help them face tomorrow’s challenges.
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