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10 Ways to Discipline Your Child in a Way That Actually Works

For most people, the word discipline has a negative connotation and in their minds, they associate it with punishment. However, the word has its roots from the Latin word, ‘disciplina’ which means teaching. 

Therefore, we are going to focus on reverting back to the roots of the word and explore how parents can teach and guide children with positive discipline instead of punishing them when they do something that is wrong. 

It may seem difficult, but it’s actually about us parents changing our perspective about discipline and here are some tips to guide you forward.

#1 Bad behavior does not mean bad kids

This is the most important thing to remember in the concept of positive discipline. Kids are not bad, they react the way they do in some situations because of stress triggers. These include hunger, sleepiness, tiredness, or something else within their environment. Avoid saying things like. “Why did you hit her, you are naughty” and rather say “That’s not how we treat our friends”. Your child may answer back or even cry (showing remorse) but you planted the seed that she is not bad, but behaving badly. 

#2 Teach your child to set things straight

If your child is about to hit someone it doesn’t help to say “Don’t hit”, rather give her information about what she should be doing like “Ask nicely.” 

If you walk in on the situation after the incident, point out that it wasn’t a good way to treat a friend and that she should apologize. Usually, children need time to digest this, if the apology is not forthcoming, make her sit somewhere and read a book until she’s ready. 

#3 Be firm and respect your child’s feeling

Children will have an excuse for why they behaved badly and as a parent, you mustn’t argue back, calmly repeat that we don’t hit our friends even if they have done something like not share a toy with us. 

Show empathy by emphasizing that even though your child wanted to play with the toy, hitting was not the right choice. 

#4 Empower your child by offering choices

This common positive discipline technique is the one most recommended by experts. Offer your child the choice of saying sorry and continuing to play, or sitting somewhere quietly until they are calmer. Think about the choices carefully because you must be able to honor whichever one your child opts for. 

#5 Mistakes are learning opportunities

This is not the time for a lecture but an opportunity to teach your child that hitting is not the way to get what she wants. You can also teach her about alternative ways to act. Remind her how much it hurt when another child hit her, or compare the pain of being hit to a time when she fell and hurt herself. 

#6 Take another approach

If you notice recurrent misbehavior, consider a change of scene. Young children do have a difficult time transitioning from one thing to the next. If they are enjoying a game and you suddenly say its bath time you may end up with a battle and resistance. Help your child transition into bath time by first introducing snack time or story-time and you will see how much easier they will then fall into the routine. The same thing works well with early morning routines like teeth brushing or getting dressed. 

#7 Children need boundaries and clear expectations

Be firm with the rules and boundaries that you have set. If she refuses to bath after the story, then the next day she has to forgo story-time. Always be consistent. 

#8 Don’t order or demand 

The best way to remind your child about things that they forget to do is to say a single word, ask a question or state a fact. If she lets the tap run while brushing her teeth, just say “Tap”, instead of “Turn the tap off”, you will be amazed at how it works. “Where did you put your shoes?” or “You are wasting water like that”. 

#9 Mutual problem solving

You need to understand your child’s feelings and needs but your child also needs to understand yours. Work on finding mutually agreeable solutions together. 

#10 Don’t use punishments in disguise

The concept here is to let natural consequences take their course. If your child won’t eat dinner, don’t get her to comply by telling her that she won’t watch TV, this is a made-up consequence; rather let her go to bed hungry. That way, she will think twice about not eating her dinner next time. 

These are ten ways that you can adapt and use positive discipline to ease the battle of the wills that inevitably arise when you have toddlers and young children in your home. These methods will continue being valuable as they enter their tweens and teens. 

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