Trust me. I didn’t know about positive discipline in the past and I was always yelling, nagging and lecturing my children non-stop. Our relationship skydived so fast that I felt my heart was going to explode until I learned about positive discipline.
I’ve never known what exactly is positive discipline. All along, I thought as long as I ⠀
I am doing positive discipline and my child will model all my positive behaviour and actions.
I was totally WRONG!
What exactly is positive discipline?
Positive discipline is a positive model that is widely used by schools and in parenting where it focuses on positive points of behaviour. It is based on the work of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs. Jane Nelsen, a licensed marriage, family and child counsellor wrote and self-published Positive Discipline in 1981 and has coached parents and teachers to be both kind and firm so that a child will get to learn creative cooperation and self-discipline.
For more reads on this, you may refer to Positive Discipline Wikipedia.
Positive discipline is an authoritative method that focused on parenting a child without the need to yell, spank or results in severe punishment. In fact, this method encourages thinking and problem-solving!
Authoritative parenting is one of the parenting styles which children love. It ensures that the children’s feelings are validated. Rules and consequences are being explained so that the children are clear about them, thus they’re good at making decisions and evaluating the risks they want to take on their own.
As parents, we all (if not all then most of us) admit that disciplining a child is the toughest part of the parenting journey and the least favourite. The way to discipline is to use punishment. We yell, we lecture, we spank and at the end of the day, we are exhausted and, at times, guilty.
Effects of punishment
The biggest problem with punishment is that it causes a disconnection between a child and a parent. It pushes the child further away from you as he/she feels misunderstood. Strong negative emotional responses will be aroused and they will resent making amends. In fact, they learned to be more careful and skilful in escaping detection of being caught.
Do you think this causes them to be more honest and responsible?
Punishment is the negative discipline which focuses on what NOT to do whereas positive discipline, on the other hand, is way more effective to teach a child what to do in a responsible and empowering manner.
Evidence of Positive Discipline
According to the article: Positive Discipline Evidence Based, many parents who experienced positive discipline reported that they were able to set clear limits, connect better with their children in positive ways. The most hated part of parenting: hitting and yelling have decreased as well. Positive discipline has brought much enjoyment and calmness into parenting and as mentioned in the previous report that it also provides a long term benefit of parenting that is both firm and caring.
How does positive discipline works?
As you already get the idea that punishment is not a permanent way out. Positive discipline is where the parents will focus on the positive points of behaviour. They are no bad children, just good and bad behaviours.
Imagine you are about to head out with your little one but you are full-on power struggle with him. It is very tempting to yell, “Hurry Up!”, “Get moving!”. Hold it right there!
You do not need to struggle with him. All you need to do is to give him an empathetic look and walk away because the more you struggle with him, the longer it takes to end the war. Allow him to let it out. Once he has calmed down, have an open conversation with him. If you do not want this to happen again, present and explain a consequence so that he will learn. That way, he will understand and will try not to repeat the same mistake again.
Having an open conversation allows your child to voice his feelings out. It allows him to manage his BIG feelings. He needs his voice to be heard. Children don’t misbehave for no reason. It is a display of their need not being met. It is important to focus on the unmet need than the misbehaviour itself. It is no longer the old-fashioned parenting where we tell the child, “it’s my way or the highway, not yours!”.
We have to move beyond controlling our children because your relationship with our children is not about control. Positive discipline is crucial in establishing and maintaining a close parent-child relationship, building mutual respect and having trust in each other.
Benefits of Positive Discipline
We have just touched a little on the benefits of positive discipline. Now let’s dive deeper into the benefits of positive discipline.
Promote closer and trusting relationships
Punishments can destroy the connection between a parent and a child whereas positive discipline promotes a strong relationship between a parent and a child. Parents are encouraged to recognise the positive and good behaviours of a child. It is also encouraged to set limits, consequences and expectations through patient and loving guidance to a child. When a child is aware of the 3 factors with parental support and guidance, he will work on improving their behaviour.
Understand each other’s feelings better.
Positive discipline lets the child feels how you feel. I used to always nag and lecture my son to practice his violin and is a constant struggle with him. He loves violin but he doesn’t like to practice. I started expressing to him in a positive way by telling him how much I love listening to the violin he plays. It is so melodious. It encourages him to practice more frequently instead of having me nagging at him to practice. Having him know how I feel allows him to appreciate what behaviour he should present.
Independence with responsibility and accountability
One of the key thing in positive discipline is to set limits and letting them know the consequences. With the awareness of what can be done and what consequences they will face when rule is broken, they know which track to go.
You know homework can be a struggle for some parents. I had that too, hence I started setting rules at home. They have to finish their homework before they get to play. If they don’t, playtime will be cut down. They know the rules and the consequences. They started taking their own responsibility on completing their homework every day and be accountable for their decision made. Since then it was a breeze and no more yelling and nagging at home.
Building self-esteem in a child is important as it influences their choices and decisions. By catching them when they are good and using positive words to praise them, raises their self-esteem. With praises, they feel encouraged and motivated to behave and do better. The support that is provided by us will help them grow in terms of value and confidence. Thus leading them to a more productive and happier life ahead.
There are always new things to learn every day. I always make it a point to explain and show them how things are being done before they start working on their own. When they try working on it, I will praise them by telling them how proud I am to see them putting in the effort on trying.
The effectiveness of Positive Discipline requires these 5 main criteria
- Be always kind and firm all the time, every time. This way, you will also gain respect from your child. Children love mimicking what parents do, therefore when a parent is kind and respectful despite being frustrated and upset, the children will learn the same from the parents and deal with difficulties with respect and composure.
- Be always connected with your child. When a child feels a sense of belonging and support, it increases their self-esteem. With that, he/she has more confidence in expressing his/her needs and opinions in a positive way.
- Teaches valuable social and life skills. Positive discipline focuses a lot on communication, critical thinking and self-directed learning.
- Inviting a child to discover how capable he/she is. With a parent’s encouragement and empowerment, a child is able to make an informed decision for him/herself.
- Is long term effectiveness. Having the above 4 criteria, a child is able to instil the positive habits and skills for their thriving future.
Positive discipline is not a short term solution to parenting. It has long term effects compared to the punishment which is short term and has negative effects.
Positive discipline seems simple but it is not! We always need to be conscious of how we teach and how we react to their behaviours so that they get it and learn it. Positive discipline does not just do when you feel like it. It has to be consistently done and that requires lots of time, patience and practice.
Honestly, it took me a long time in order to implement positive discipline effectively and consistently. I am still learning and practising it. What I do notice and encouraged is that my relationship with my children has improved loads. We are kinder to each other as well. I feel so much lesser of a volcano wanting to erupt anytime, anywhere.
I am not a perfect parent. I do learn from my mistakes through the years and learn to give myself a time out when necessary instead of having the power struggle with my children. Time out is not just for children. It is for adults too. I always take the time to sit back and reflect what I have done correctly or not. I observe how my children behave and react to me. These are really important factors that determine if I did my parenting correctly.
As much as we try to be patient and nurturing to our children, we lose it at times. Out of frustration, we screamed or yelled hoping to put all the negative behaviour to a halt. The next moment we felt guilty for having to do it. Positive discipline allows us to get out of this trap by being calm and focusing on learning for the future instead of punishing of the past.
Positive discipline is not just about teaching the children, is also about teaching YOU as a parent. Is a discovery journey about your children and yourself. You get to learn more about why your children behave in a certain manner and how you react to them. With positive discipline, both the children and parents are inspired by intrinsic motivation: the willingness to act correctly.
Do keep a lookout on our next post as we will be sharing discipline tools soon. At the meantime, do you have a better understanding of what positive discipline is about?