Positive Discipline – for toddlers to preschool children

Positive discipline is discipline that has a positive impact on a child’s self-worth and encourages self-discipline.

The emphasis is on setting boundaries, and providing explanations for those boundaries, within your child’s capacity to understand.

Below is one parent’s “take” on the practical application of positive discipline methodology:

  • Show the child that you understand what he wants and then explain that he can’t have it because… for example, “I know that you want to eat the candy, but we’re having supper soon, and you can’t eat candy before eating supper”. This may not assist in resolving the temper tantrum of your 4-year old, but if you keep repeating the same explanation each time and consistently refusing candy before supper, he’ll eventually get the idea and accept the rule.
  • Offer your child an alternative to his problem. For example, “you can’t play with the truck now because Mary is playing with the truck. However, when she is finished, you get the truck. For now, you can play with this Lego set.”
  • Give your child encouragement and a compliment when they do something that deserves it.
  • Keep directions simple and age-appropriate.
  • Sometimes, it’s helpful to demonstrate the behavior that you expect. For example, show the child how to pat a dog gently.
  • Do not tolerate behavior which is not acceptable- for example, intentionally hitting a younger sibling.
  • Act upon negative behavior immediately so that there is a clear connection between the negative behavior and the consequence which follows.
  • It’s insufficient to simply say “no”, you have to act upon this negative behavior.
  • Toddlers can be distracted but pre-school and kindergarten-age children will not be distracted from their “goals” too easily- they will need a firm and consistent direction if their behavior is inappropriate.
  • It’s okay for your children to be angry with you. There may come a time when your child tells you, in rage, “I don’t love you anymore”, because you would not allow him a third helping of the apple pie. His rage will subside, and you can then explain to him the significance of his words. Try offering him a suggestion for him to deal with his anger in a better way- for example, “when you feel yourself starting to get mad, try jumping up and down on one foot and counting to ten”, quite frankly, this will not work once the child passes the “threshold” anger point, but it may work to change him to a lighter mood in the “initial anger” phase.
  • Continue to encourage your child to express himself with words, and positive words, at that.

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