The Importance of Positive Discipline in Parenting

Boundaries and limits are important in parenting. From a child’s perspective, limits may feel restrictive but they are also like gates, keeping them safe, in addition, teach self -control and discipline. And yes, they can be implemented with kindness, respect, and authority.

What is Positive Discipline?

Positive Discipline is based on Alfred Adler’s work, a Viennese psychiatrist Positive Disciplining, as opposed to punishing attempts to understand what’s behind the behaviour. At its core, it’s about giving children tools to manage themselves rather than controlling them. Here are the core values:

Core Values of Positive Discipline

  • Mutual respect.  Parents model firmness by respecting themselves and the needs of the situation, and kindness by respecting the needs of the child.
  • Understanding and Identifying what’s behind the behaviour.
  • Emotion Coaching
  • Effective communication and problem-solving skills.
  • A discipline that is Authoritative that teaches (and is neither permissive nor punitive).
  • Focusing on solutions instead of punishment.
  • Encouragement (in combination with praise). Encouragement notices effort and improvement, not just success, and builds long-term self-esteem and empowerment.

Here are three examples of Positive Discipline Skills

1.Understand the “Root” ( what’s underneath the behaviour)


Most parenting experts can agree on this: there is always something motivating a child’s negative or disruptive behavior. So if your child has had a massive meltdown about a toy they wanted, or preferred food. It’s generally motivated by something in your child, whether it was a lack of skills in regulating and managing his big feelings, a desire to get your attention, or a power/control play to assert his free will – there’s always a reason for the behaviour. It’s your job to be a detective, mirror, reflect, and frame the reason for behaviour back to them.

” What is she he trying to tell me by this behaviour”.

For example, your son starts to cry, his brother took his toy back, you might say:

“I can understand why you might feel sad because you know you can’t have your brothers toy right now, that’s really hard, can I find you something else to play with?

2. Be your Child’s Emotion Coach

What is Emotion Coaching?

It helps young people to understand different emotions, and how they can help to manage themselves, especially at times of difficulty. Thanks to empathy parents teach/ guide their child to use a more appropriate and effective response. There are five steps, here are just two examples, there is more on emotion coaching at my Positive Discipline Workshop in March.

1. Recognizing emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching.

When our home feels like a battleground, it is so hard to hold onto the positive in the situation. Acceptance of any negative thinking manages any suffering created in combination with “self-talk”, you might say:

“I am doing my best and so are they right now”

2.Ensure limits are implemented with Empathy

Do you think time out is effective? In my experience, sending your child to time out every time they misbehave is not really going to change their behaviour. They do however need limits. It’s always advantageous to problem solve ideas prior to the incident, it will enable your child to make choices and will help you feel more in control and safe. This is why having regular family meetings are so effective. Focus on one behaviour and at a time, otherwise, it becomes overwhelming. Here are some examples of what you might say in those ” hot” moments ( By the way, it is never okay for a child to hit you or be destructive with toys or property, Safety — for himself and others — is non-negotiable).

“I understand you are angry but I can’t let you kick me, come and sit next to me to calm down.

I see you are really cross but toys are not made for throwing, speak your feeling words!

Remember what we discussed when you feel angry, we speak out our feelings, take big deep breaths and move into our turtle shell.

8 ways to help your child calm down

3.Using Encouragement more than Praise

The way we use our words is important, encouragement can more effective than praise. I think encouragement enables children to be motivated from the inside/internal. How you use encouragement builds your child’s confidence in an area where he/she is currently struggling. Here are some examples you can use now:

ways to strengthen connection in parenting
  1. The time you are putting into your homework is really starting to pay off.
  2. You’ve worked really hard to clean and tidy your room, good job!
  3. I feel we are a close family when we work together to do this…..
  4. That’s a tough one, but I am going to trust you to work at it
  5. Thanks, you were really patient with your little brother today
  6. Thanks for preparing supper with me today, it really made a difference.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for your commitment to the wellbeing of your child and your family and for your willingness to keep learning and growing. Remember: parenting is hard work and you all deserve support.  If you want more ideas on Positive Discipline, I hope to see you my workshop in March or contact me for a consultation. With Love Catherine

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