Positive Discipline

What is discipline? It is important to remember that discipline is NOT just punishment. Discipline is more about teaching your children how to behave, not just reprimanding them when they do something wrong.

> Read the “Discipline” Fact Sheet in English
> Fact Sheet “Disciplina” Fact Sheet in Spanish
> Listen to the Parenting Today Radio Show on Positive Discipline (mp3)
> Listen to our PODCAST on Positive Discipline with ABC7’s Leon Harris

Why do children misbehave?

  • Physical discomfort; tiredness
  • Difficulty controlling impulses
  • Testing Limits
  • Frustration
  • Desire for attention

Discipline means helping children:

  • Build self-esteem
  • Develop self-control
  • Respect themselves and others
  • Express emotions appropriately
  • Become self-reliant

5 Tips for Positive Discipline

1. SET LIMITS AND GUIDELINES: Children are looking for their parents to provide a set of boundaries, including physical boundaries (like not crossing a street) as well as rules that respect others’ rights.

2. DISCIPLINE CONSISTENTLY: Children need consistent rules to help them learn what their boundaries are. You will have to enforce rules repeatedly as you raise a child—be sure to send your children the same message so you don’t confuse them.

3. BEGIN DISCIPLINE EARLY: Even a young child needs some sort of discipline to help them make decisions. And the longer you send a consistent message, the easier it is for a child to understand your expectations and develop self-control.

4. SERVE AS A ROLE MODEL: The BEST way for you to teach your children how to behave is by showing them through your own behavior.

5. SPEND TIME WITH YOUR CHILDREN: The best way for you to model appropriate behavior is by spending quality time with them.

When you are dealing with the discipline of your children, there are a number of tools parents might use to enforce certain rules:

  • Loss of privileges
  • Being grounded
  • Parentel disappointment
  • Restitution
  • Time out

Remember a time out is just a cooling off period, not the punishment. It should not last too long-one minute for each year of a child’s age. Take them away from the center of activity immediately after they’ve done something wrong.

Logical consequences
Logical consequences can be a very effective way to teach children discipline. The more you can regulate a child’s behavior in a positive way, the more they will imitate you.

  • Offer an alternative to a bad behavior-show children they can’t always get what they want, but they can always have a relationship with you.
  • Consequences remind a child that actions determine the outcome; reinforce this idea by giving a child options whenever possible.
  • Don’t just give warnings that you can’t or won’t carry through with.

The issue of spanking continues to be an important debate. Several years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued policy statement against the practice of spanking. With spanking, you run the risk of a parent striking a child and losing control. Some parents can remain calm, but a parent who is stressed or does not have support at home may not be able to do that.

  • Spanking is a confusing way to teach a child a lesson about aggressive behavior.
  • Spanking can teach children that when people are angry they hit. This can lead to children hitting others when they are upset.
  • It is okay to show anger, but a parent needs to stay in control when disciplining their child.
  • You can show disapproval on your face.
  • If you begin to yell or lose your temper, tell your child you are mad and walk away. Come back later to discipline when you are in control.

Reward good behavior
Because discipline is about teaching children how to behave, it is just as important to reward good behavior as it is to reprimand when a child misbehaves. Reinforce good actions by praising your child, spending time with them or planning a special treat.