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What is Positive Discipline?

Positive Discipline teaches children from an early age to become responsible, respectful, and resourceful members of their communities.

This educational method teaches important social life skills in a way that is deeply respectful and encouraging for children and parents.

Recent research tells us that children are “wired” from birth to connect with others and that children who have a sense of connection with their community, family, and school are less likely to misbehave. Positive discipline is based on the understanding that the key to positive parenting is not punishment, but mutual respect through dialogue.

Help children in their development by training their qualities and skills to become responsible, respectful, and resourceful people.

What would you like for your children’s future?

Imagine that your son is now 25 years old and comes to visit you. What kind of person do you expect to see? What characteristics and skills will he or she have?

Positive discipline helps parents train and understand challenges provide great opportunities to teach your children the valuable skills they can develop.

So we can say that Positive Discipline is a philosophy of life that, unlike other styles of education, is based on mutual respect, and takes into account both the needs of children and the needs of adults.

This educational model has its origins in the 1920s and is based on the philosophy of psychologists Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs, however, from the 1980s Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott have founded the Positive Discipline Association, and with it, this philosophy has gradually been brought closer to parents and teachers.

It is true that sometimes the word discipline makes us feel rejected by the negative connotations that may imply, however, it is important to clarify that the word discipline comes from the Latin “disciplini or discipulus” meaning “follower of truth” or “teaching”.

The five criteria to consider for positive discipline according to author Jane Nelsen in her book “How to Educate With Firmness and Affection” are:

– It is to be kind and firm at the same time (respectful and motivating)

– Help children feel important (Connection)

– Be effective in the long run

– Teach valuable life skills (respect, problem-solving ability, participation, collaboration, responsibility…)

-Help children develop and be aware of their abilities.

Basics of positive discipline

Children are social beings. Behavior is determined within a social context, children make decisions about themselves, about others, and how to behave, based on how they look relative to others and what they believe others feel towards them:

-They watch




Behaviour should be goal-oriented

Behavior has a purpose, the main goal is that of belonging and valuation, bad behavior comes from the mistaken belief of how to achieve it, children are good observers but they are not so good at interpreting.

-When a baby doesn’t have a covered need, what does he do to let him know? he cries to express something.

– When a child or teen feels that this need for understanding, affection, the connection fails what does it do? tantrums, rebellion, can in some cases become violent.

With the baby, we immediately try to find out what the need is and provide it, with children and adolescents we only attend to their behavior trying by all means to suffocate it, but we do not listen to the cause that causes that behavior. The child confuses how to reach his goal, so it is so important to be analyzed as a parent or educator to reflect on whether our behavior invites that mistaken belief. If we do not contribute to the well-being of others we do not achieve optimal emotional and mental development.

Horizontal relationships.

We all have no right to dignity and respect.

Positive discipline teaches children to think, teaches them to reflect on their behavior, and eliminates blind obedience forever, which in adult life would only bring them problems. Positive discipline teaches children to communicate effectively, think flexibly, and have good problem-solving.

But it’s necessary not to confuse positive discipline with letting your child do what he wants (this would be a permissive upbringing, fraught with negative consequences on children). Parents who are too relaxed or permissive will create unsafe, uncontrollable children who will have serious difficulties in committing to decisions or to bear the consequences of their actions.

Explaining to children that mistakes are great opportunities to learn

If a child is subjected to the humiliation of correcting a mistake disrespectfully, he may not want to try again for fear, he may become an approving addict or may even want to hide the mistake, in some cases with lies. Encouraging to expose an error and what learning came out of that will make children recover from the error, reconcile, and most importantly focus on how to fix it, working together with them.

Make sure that the message you want to transmit is understood, first file the connection, and then the correction.

Taking into account all these points began to launch parent workshops in the USA and subsequently this methodology was extended to several countries including Mexico, with the help of these workshops we try to help the adult find a respectful balance in the art of educating, using as tools kindness and firmness, thus managing to develop in children, social, emotional and life skills. Based on these premises, there are many tools provided by the Positive Discipline, all of them of great help to accompany us in this beautiful adventure of parenting.

Some tips for applying Positive Discipline

Instead of saying ‘no’, redirect your child.

You could repeatedly tell your little one that he often bites, “No!” or “No!” But your little one might see this as a game, “Dad says, ‘No,’ and I do it and he says ‘No’ again,” for example.

“‘No'” gives them nothing to feel more capable; it’s an order, show them what they can do instead of what they can’t. Focusing on solutions rather than punishing is a key tool in positive discipline.

Give them a voice.

Even if there is no discussion, children need to feel heard. It’s a healthy idea for kids to have a time each week to say what they think is unfair about how the house works and what they especially like, so book 20 minutes a week for kids from the age of 4, during which they can present their opinion, and parents will listen without arguing. The opportunity allows all family members to express their concerns and brainstorm together.

Erase the shame of making mistakes.

Like family reunions, positive discipline experts encourage an open conversation about mistakes, teaching children that they are “learning opportunities,” for example, at dinner time, around the table you can each share the mistake you experienced and what you learned from it. Children will feel encouraged and respected, which will ultimately create a positive change in their thinking and behavior.

Prioritize quality time.

Spend 15 minutes before bed with your young child to read a book together. Or once a week at least go for a walk in a park or a forest. Either way, individual screenless usage time with your child gives a sense of belonging and meaning. A child’s behavior is primarily a reflection of their self-esteem and knowing that they are loved, dignified, and autonomous.

Parents must be good leaders, because leaders do not control others, but set guidelines that others follow to succeed. Instead of an order, they invite and motivate you to do a task, so your child feels respected, and that respect makes them feel self-realized. By giving up the need to control a situation your child is acting in, you pave the way for them to be healthier, happier adults. Being angry or punitive means using fear as a way to make them obey.

The child who acts out of bullying is not doing so because he is learning good behavior, only in self-preservation when the threat exists. It provides unsustainable temporary compliance and often causes aggression and defiance, and this often ends in frustration.

Sometimes you may feel frustrated but in those moments, try not to fall into reactive discipline, you’d better take a moment for yourself, take a deep breath, and behave appropriately as a parent. This will be a great way to model the right behavior in your child. For example, you can say something like, ‘Mom is very stressed, I’m going to sit 5 minutes in the garden to calm me down.’ So you’ll understand that losing your temper is not the solution.

All the information we give you in this article is indicative as each child and each family is different and unique.

Carolina González Ramos

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