Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Positive Discipline

Disciplining our children is a part of parenting. However, sometimes it may be difficult to know how to effectively discipline our children. The most important thing to remember is that discipline needs to be a teaching moment rather than a punishment. It is important that when your child makes a mistake you take the opportunity to teach them rather than just enforcing a punishment. Jane Nelson is a scholar in this field and she has written a book about positive discipline. Here are some examples of positive discipline that she gives in her book.
These are just a few guidelines that Jane Nelson gives.

  1. Misbehaving children are “discouraged children”
    who have mistaken ideas on how to achieve their
    primary goal—to belong. Their mistaken ideas lead
    them to misbehavior. We cannot be effective unless
    we address the mistaken beliefs rather than just the
  2. Use encouragement to help children feel
    “belonging” so the motivation for misbehaving will
    be eliminated. Celebrate each step in the direction of
    improvement rather than focusing on mistakes.
  3. A great way to help children feel encouraged is to
    spend special time “being with them.” Many
    teachers have noticed a dramatic change in a
    “problem child” after spending five minutes simply
    sharing what they both like to do for fun.
  4. When tucking children into bed, ask them to share
    with you their “saddest time” during the day and
    their “happiest time” during the day. Then you share
    with them. You will be surprised what you learn.
  5. Have family meetings or class meetings to solve
    problems with cooperation and mutual respect. This
    is the key to creating a loving, respectful atmosphere
    while helping children develop self-discipline,
    responsibility, cooperation, and problem-solving
  6. Give children meaningful jobs. In the name of
    expediency, many parents and teachers do things that
    children could do for themselves and one another.
    Children feel belonging when they know they can
    make a real contribution.
  7. Decide together what jobs need to be done. Put them
    all in a jar and let each child draw out a few each
    week; that way no one is stuck with the same jobs all
    the time. Teachers can invite children to help them
    make class rules and list them on a chart titled, “We
    decided:”. Children have ownership, motivation, and
    enthusiasm when they are included in the decisions.
  8. Take time for training. Make sure children
    understand what “clean the kitchen” means to you.
    To them it may mean simply putting the dishes in the
    sink. Parents and teachers may ask, “What is your
    understanding of what is expected?”
  9. Teach and model mutual respect. One way is to be
    kind and firm at the same time—kind to show
    respect for the child, and firm to show respect for
    yourself and “the needs of the situation.” This is
    difficult during conflict, so use the next guideline
    whenever you can.
  10. Proper timing will improve your effectiveness
    tenfold. It does not “work” to deal with a problem at
    the time of conflict—emotions get in the way. Teach
    children about cooling-off periods. You (or the
    children) can go to a separate room and do something
    to make yourself feel better—and then work on the
    problem with mutual respect.
  11. Get rid of the crazy idea that in order to make
    children do better, first you have to make them
    feel worse. Do you feel like doing better when you
    feel humiliated? This suggests a whole new look at
    “time out.”
  12. Use Positive Time Out. Let your children help you
    design a pleasant area (cushions, books, music,
    stuffed animals) that will help them feel better.
    Remember that children do better when they feel
    better. Then you can ask your children, when they are
    upset, “Do you think it would help you to take some
    positive time out?”
  13. Punishment may “work” if all you are interested in is
    stopping misbehavior for “the moment.” Sometimes
    we must beware of what works when the longrange
    results are negative—resentment, rebellion,
    revenge, or retreat.
  14. Teach children that mistakes are wonderful
    opportunities to learn! A great way to teach
    children that mistakes are wonderful opportunities to
    learn is to model this yourself by using the Three Rs
    of Recovery after you have made a mistake:
    (1) Recognize your mistake.
    (2) Reconcile: Be willing to say “I’m sorry, I didn’t
    like the way I handled that.”
    (3) Resolve: Focus on solutions rather than blame.
    (#3 is effective only if you do #1 & #2 first.)
  15. Focus on solutions instead of consequences. Many
    parents and teachers try to disguise punishment by
    calling it a logical consequence. Get children
    involved in finding solutions that are
    (1) related
    (2) respectful
    (3) reasonable
  16. Make sure the message of love and respect gets
    through. Start with “I care about you. I am concerned
    about this situation. Will you work with me on a
  17. Have fun!
    Bring joy into homes and classrooms.
From the book, Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson

There are many other ways that we can use positive discipline in our interactions with our children. Do you have any other examples? What do you think about these guidelines that Jane Nelson gives?



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