For some, the word "discipline" has negative associations. Perhaps it conjures up memories of being sent to the principal's office for some misdeed, or brings to mind physical forms of punishment, such as spanking. Actually, the word discipline comes from the Latin word "disciple," which means "to teach." Positive discipline refers to ways of instructing a child that do not demean or harm her. Generally, the term actually implies the absence of verbal or emotional harshness toward a child.
In the course of dealing with parents, I frequently encounter the following myths about positive discipline.
- Myth: Positive discipline methods avoid rules or consequences.
Fact: The methods of positive discipline such as time-outs do involve consequences that the child may find unpleasant as a result of breaking a rule or not being obedient.
- Myth: Positive discipline will produce a child who will be disobedient.
Fact: Studies show improved behavior among children raised in a home where positive discipline methods predominate.
- Myth: Positive discipline is easier for parents to institute.
Fact: That statement may describe permissive parenting but not positive discipline. Actually, it often takes more time and self-restraint to lay out guidelines for children and then conscientiously follow up with appropriate consequences when rules are broken.
Once parents begin to use positive discipline, even the most skeptical find how effective the methods can be.
Positive discipline works best when the parent first and foremost builds a strong relationship with the child. What is the basis of a good parent-child relationship? Spending adequate amounts of time with your child combined with actively listening to him as you try to determine his needs will set the stage for a lifelong positive relationship.