What Is Positive Discipline?

Positive discipline means you respect, listen, and reward good behavior with love. Follow these eight points to teach kids right from wrong.


I'm Dr. Ari Brown. Today, let's about discipline. What is it and why is it important? Discipline literally means to teach. From discipline, your child learns self-control and with that comes self-confidence and self-esteem. Positive discipline means that you show respect, you listen, you reward good behavior, and you remind your child that you love her while you teach her right from wrong. This is in contrast to negative discipline like spanking, which teaches children fear and leads to poor self-esteem. Many child-rearing issues fall into the discipline category, whether it's teaching your child to share a toy, go to bed when he's supposed to, or eat something other than chicken nuggets, it's all about having a plan, setting limits, and then following through with it. Being a parent is not a popular job. You're not your child's buddy and being an effective parent sometimes means that your child will not like the decisions or rules you make to guide her in the right direction or protect her. And that's okay. Your child will still love you and even thank you years later--okay, many years later--for helping her be the best person she can be. If you let your toddler call the shots, it will haunt you as your child gets older and the stakes are higher. This week, it's demanding candy at the grocery store check-out line, later it's going to a party with underage drinking or drug use. Keep that in mind. There are eight key points to discipline. Be a good role model. Your kids are watching you and your actions speak louder than words. Be consistent. Whatever rule or limit you set, you must stick to it. Don't back down to avoid conflict. Be calm and brief. The less you react, yell or lecture, the better. Make your comment short and sweet. Be quick. Don't wait to discipline your child even if you are out in public. He won't remember why he's being disciplined if you wait until later. Pick your battles. Decide which behaviors are serious enough to discipline and decide which ones to just ignore. Be realistic. How long is your child really willing to endure running errands or you taking a phone call? If you have reasonable expectations, your child will act out less. Catch your child being good. Your child craves your attention. Kids prefer positive attention like hugs and praise, but they'll also accept negative attention like you screaming and yelling. So if you praise your child for cleaning up his toys, you'll see more of that behavior and he won't have to resort to naughty behaviors to get you to notice him. Finally, remind your child that you love her. The behavior is bad but never tell a child that she is bad. After you're done with your discipline moment, say something nice and give her a hug. It shows that you're ready to move on and not dwell on the issue. Just remember, your child's behavior won't change immediately. You are planting the seeds of discipline right now. Don't expect a tree to grow overnight.

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