Enforcing Positive Discipline with Toddlers and Preschoolers
With a solid parent-child relationship in place, there are many ways to incorporate positive discipline into your parenting style. Some guidelines on how to use discipline positively and effectively include:
- Provide consequences calmly and clearly state the nature of the inappropriate behavior.
- Make clear rules and guidelines so that the child knows what is expected of her.
- Never punish accidents (including toileting accidents).
- After the consequence, provide forgiveness to the child and then let the child know how much you love him despite his behavior.
- Use respectful language. Do not use terms like “shut up” or call the child insulting names like “stupid” or “clumsy.”
- Avoid screaming and yelling.
- Stop, think, and then discipline with love, not anger.
- Recognize the fear that often motivates us as parents and challenge your thinking when you become angry with your child. For instance, does your anger at your child’s toileting accident reflect your fearful thinking of: “It seems like this kid will never be potty-trained. What if he never learns proper toileting? I will be a failure as a parent.”?
- Short consequences at the time of the misbehavior are best. Taking away television for two weeks rarely provides the desired results.
- Think like a child. For some misbehavior, you may not have already made a rule about it and the child may truly not be able to anticipate that certain behaviors will be very upsetting to parents.
- Constantly catch your child behaving properly. It can be demoralizing when you do 200 things right and five things wrong in a day and only hear about the “bad” behavior.
- Model good behavior. Ask your child for forgiveness when you have misbehaved or made a mistake.
- Help your child learn from his mistake at the time of the incident.
Positive discipline rewards good behaviors and provides negative consequences for wrong behaviors. You may not always execute positive discipline perfectly, but changes in your family life will soon become evident if you just begin incorporating some of these simple principles into your child-rearing style.
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