WHAT CAN I SAY?
This thing called “positive discipline” really does work. Most parents realize that a positive, respectful approach has great long-term benefits for their child in the many ways it helps them develop self discipline self regulation, and self-esteem.
But putting positive discipline into practice in-the-moment isn’t easy. Many, many parents tell me they just forget what to say and do when they are tired, frustrated, or busy. For most of us, it takes deliberate practice. Having a sort of “script” to think about at first can help.
Certainly, you don’t want to use anyone else’s words all the time, because that won’t be YOU, and the most important thing you can give your children is your true self. But following positive examples is a good way to start. Perhaps the following examples will give you some ideas and starting points:
“It looks like you might be feeling frustrated.”
“Thank you for sharing your snack with me.”
OFFERING SIMPLE SENSORY AND ART EXPERIENCES EVERY DAY
“It looks like working with the clay helped you feel better.”
BEING PATIENT- LEARNING TAKES TIME
“I can tell that you are working hard to wait politely for a turn.”
ASKING OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS
“How could we make that work?”
LETTING CHILDREN SOLVE PROBLEMS
“What do you think we can do about this?”
HAVING AGE-APPROPRIATE EXPECTATIONS
“We’ll go shopping another day when you’re not tired.”
UNDERSTANDING THAT CHILDREN NEED TO MOVE
“Let's see if jumping up and down 20 times helps you feel less frustrated. Ready, go!”
INVOLVING CHILDREN IN IMPORTANT JOBS
“I need some help with these heavy water bottles!”
“You can sit here with me for awhile if you want. Let me know if you need a hug.”
INSTEAD OF SAYING NO, TRY:
USING POSITIVE LANGUAGE
“You can throw the ball outside.”
BEING A ROLE MODEL
“Here. I’ll share this toy with you.”
SETTING FIRM BOUNDARIES WHEN NEEDED
“I will not let you hurt other people.”
“Let me help you think of a way to ask for a turn.”
PROVIDING OTHER WAYS OF COPING
“Want to read a book with me while you’re waiting for a turn?”
“I can tell that you are very upset right now.”
“Pets are animals that need a gentle touch.”
STAYING CLOSE WHEN NEEDED
“I will be right here in case you need help while you and your brother work on solving this problem."
GIVING APPROPRIATE CHOICES
“Would you like to brush your teeth before your bath, or after?”
OBSERVING, AND HELPING BEFORE A PROBLEM STARTS
“This room looks too crowded for 3 children. I’ll help put some toys away so there’s more room to play.”
HELPING CHILDREN LEARN EMPATHY
“I can see that that you're concerned about the baby's feelings.”
POINTING OUT THE EMOTIONAL CUES OF OTHERS
“When you look at his face, can you guess what he’s feeling?”
PROVIDING MANY WAYS OF EXPRESSION
“Would you like to draw a picture or build a sand sculpture about how sad you feel?”
UNDERSTANDING A CHILD’S DEVELOPMENT
“Mom and I are still eating but I can see you’re finished. Would you like to be excused to play with your toys now?”
It all comes down to one simple idea: treat children the way you would like to be treated. When we treat our kids with care and respect, they learn to behave in positive and productive ways.
The good news is that you don't have to be perfect to make progress. No parent can remember to use these kinds of magic words all the time. But practice does help make it feel more natural, and you'll gradually find it easier and it will feel more authentic. Start small: pick one or two things to practice at first, and build from there. As your skills increase, you'll feel more confident. Your relationship with your child will grow stronger and more rewarding.
Positive discipline works!
Exploring With Teacher Annie
TODDLERHOOD. The stage of life between 12 and 36 months is unique and special. Toddlers see things in their own way and have very strong feelings. Often, we adults have a lot of difficulty understanding what the toddlers in our life need from us. Explore the wonders of toddlerhood with me, from a developmental perspective.
(Note: I change names and details when discussing things that happen at preschool.)
read more about Annie Castle Deckert, M.ED.PSYCH.