Perhaps a better way to talk about positive discipline is how to create the behavior patterns you want using positive strategies. Developmentally, your child is wired to please you, and you want to use your positive, connected relationship to help create trust as a basis for shaping your child’s behavior.
Here are some tips to guide your thinking:
- Make sure the behavior you want is appropriate for his age, skills, and experiences.
- You may need to break the behavior down and work on small chunks at a time. If you want your child to be more independent in the morning routine, pick one aspect at a time, such as brushing her hair.
- Model the behavior you want. What you do reinforces what your words say.
- Verbalize the behavior you want (not what you don’t want). For example, you might say “let’s practice tapping my shoulder when you want my attention” rather than “don’t interrupt me.”
- Be specific. Avoid vague terms like “show respect” and replace with “please ask before touching.”
- Let your child know in advance what your boundaries are such as “when you are at the park, you may take turns with your sister on the swing.”
- Use your effect to reward your child rather than an item “I will be so excited to see you come down the stairs with your PJs on.”
- Outline the consequence in terms of what the child will gain, “if you are able to take turns, I will be so proud of you” or “you will be allowed to play 10 minutes longer.”
- Set your child up for success such as giving him a chance to take turns or giving a reminder.
- Immediately give positive praise or a gesture to let her know she did it!
- You will also want to embed opportunities for discussing why the behavior is important and how it impacts others.
- Ask your child how he feels about the behavior and invite him to problem solve with you.
- Distinguish safety rules and talk about why they are important in the context of how important your child’s safety and security is to you.
- Remember that a new behavior takes several weeks to master; when your child does it the first time, it does not mean it is mastered so be patient and continue to provide repeated positive support.