In our last blog post, we gave our first three steps to practicing positive discipline. In this post, we explore four more ways to discipline children effectively.
1. Give Attention To Good Behavior, Not Bad Behavior
Children often act out to get attention. Sometimes, it pays to ignore your child when he/she acts out. Ignore the behaviors you don’t want to see more of and give attention to the behaviors you want them to display more often. Katharine C. Kersey, the author of “The 101s: A Guide to Positive Discipline,” calls this the “Rain on the grass, not on the weeds” principle. In the midst of tantrums or whining, play deaf or walk away and your child will soon learn that those behaviors don’t catch your attention. This is a way to practice positive discipline and teach your children to communicate better.
Instead of trying to stop bad behavior, try redirecting your child’s attention to good behavior. Kids who constantly hear “no” or “don’t” tend to eventually tune those directives out. So instead of telling your child what not to do, Kersey recommends instead, offering a positive behavior to replace the misbehavior. For instance, a child acting up in a grocery store could be redirected to helping pick out grocery items. A child running around a swimming pool might be challenged to walk “as if on marshmallows.” Be creative with your children.
3. Exploit the “energy drain”
Any parent who has dealt with a tantrum or a whining child knows that parenting can be exhausting. Fay calls this the “energy drain” and says you can use it to your advantage. For instance, you might defuse a sibling confrontation by saying, “wow, you need to take that fight with your brother somewhere else, because listening to that could cause me a big energy drain and I don’t think I’ll have the energy to take you to get dessert after dinner.” What will your child care more about, getting ice cream after dinner or fighting with their sibling?
4. Stay Away From Bribing
Sometimes bribing seems like the easiest option in a moment of desperation, but is not the best long-term solution for your children. Fay warns that bribing sends the wrong message. What kids hear when we offer a reward for good behavior is “you don’t want to be very good and you have to be paid off,” says Fay.
The most important rearward to give your child is quality time. That should be freely given. Children need us and they need our undivided attention at times. Fay recommends spending AT LEAST 15 minutes of one-on-one time with your children a day. It’s very important for children to know they are loved and to hear it often. Love is the best medicine.