Positive Discipline and why it's important for your child
Updated: Feb 13
Positive discipline gets a bad rap sometimes as it's often confused with permissive parenting and I'm here to tell you IT IS NOT!
First we need to understand the true meaning of the word "Discipline" which translates to to teach or to learn. It does not mean to punish, shame, blame or any of the usual "discipline techniques" you might already be familiar with, like timeout for example. Instead of giving your child consequences, or shaming them for making developmentally appropriate mistakes you are going to use these moments to TEACH them, so they can learn what to do instead in the future.
It's important to remember that a childs job is to push boundaries and test the limits, it is how they learn and grow. That doesn't mean you won't feel like ripping your hair out, you probably will, but if you can try and remember that is is developmentally appropriate for your child to be acting a certain way or displaying certain behaviours, it makes it a lot easier to stay calm and respond accordingly.
It's equally important for your child to know that you will love them and be there to support them no matter what, even when you have to reinforce a boundary. This does not mean you are going to let your child hit you or use unacceptable actions towards themselves, others or their environment. Nor does it mean that you should use negative behaviour towards them like yelling, physical force, shaming or ignoring them. What it does mean is that you are going to keep your boundary, and keep everyone safe whilst treating your child with respect.
Here's an example of the same situation of a child biting using Permissive discipline, Aggressive discipline, and Positive discipline.
Permissive Discipline- The parent does not try to stop them, they write off the behaviour as a phase that doesn't need to be addressed, they continue to ask the child to stop or laugh it off, permissively tell them it hurts without showing them it is hurting and allowing the child to continue hurting them for fear of upsetting them. Does not address the issue after the incident has occurred. Child repeats behaviour.
Negative Discipline- Yelling at the child to stop, forcefully pushing the child away from biting them, making the child go into timeout where they are ignored and are forced to apologise without being given the tools to improve next time or understand why it was wrong. Child repeats behaviour.
Positive discipline- Physically stopping the child from biting as gently as possible, explaining you won't let them hurt you and biting hurts, when the biting is over talk about why they did it, what underlying reasons there could be for the behaviour and problem solve what they could do instead next time they feel that way and making clear that the behaviour is not acceptable, and finish by letting them know that you still love them. Child MIGHT repeat behaviour, but they also now have the tools to not repeat the behaviour.
You see how they are very different? and they all leave the child feeling a very different way. I do not believe in ignoring a child or their behaviour as a way to discipline, it does not give them the tools they need to improve their behaviour and develop.
I'm also strongly against making a child say sorry, I don't think it teaches them what they need to learn. It teaches them you can do these behaviours and as long as you say sorry it's okay. I think a child should be shown how they've made someone feel and be encouraged to make amends but not forced. Children cannot truly be sorry if they don't first learn that feeling, they do not learn to feel sorry simply by saying it.
A child NEEDS discipline and boundaries, they crave it to understand their place in the world. But the discipline does not need the leave the child feeling hurt, ashamed or confused as to what is and is not acceptable. You can leave your child feeling loved, accepted and also understanding where the boundaries are and that biting (in this case) is not acceptable behaviour.
There are many resources and tips out there to explore positive discipline techniques, why do it and HOW to do it. I would recommend you invest in the books No bad kids by Janet Lansbury and How to talk so little kids will listen and listen so little kids will talk by Joanna Faber & Julie King
They are both very informative on the subject of positive discipline and also give practical examples and techniques to help you to start using positive discipline. I also have a post on my Instagram here highlighting a few positive discipline techniques.
I will leave you with this one tip. If the way you're responding to your child would make you feel anything other than loved and supported for accidently spilling a glass of water for example, then you probably are not treating your child with respect.
Once you start to put yourselves in their shoes, you will start to see how positive discipline is going to help your relationship grow and create lifelong trust and communication with your child. Which is what every parent wants right?
If you want some tips and actual techniques check out my Instagram post with 5 positive discipline techniques and some helpful tips.
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I believe Montessori is for everyone, I want to help everyone bring a little more Montessori into their homes and lives.
Montessoraus Mama. x