What is Positive Discipline?


When it comes to parenting and disciplining your children, there are many different approaches to take that will help teach your children boundaries and societally acceptable behaviors. One more recent approach that has caught the attention of many parents is the concept of positive discipline. Read on to learn about positive discipline and some tips on how to implement it into your parenting style.

The Basics

According to Dr. Jane Nelson, “Recent research tells us that children are hardwired from birth to connect with others and that children who feel a sense of connection to their community, family, and school are less likely to misbehave.” Positive discipline preaches that children can be trained to behave without the need to yell, bribe, threaten or utilize physical punishment. Instead, parents are encouraged to identify the belief behind the undesirable behavior through effective communication and problem-solving. Once the belief is discovered, it is the parent’s job to correct that behavior through encouragement (when your child is doing something positive) and discipline that teaches but is not permissive nor punitive.

The Five Criteria

At the core of positive discipline are the five rules that act as the guiding principles that parents should follow when utilizing this approach. According to the Positive Discipline Association, the Five Criteria for Effective Discipline:

  1. Helps children feel a sense of connection (belonging and significance)

  2. Is mutually respectful and encouraging (kind and firm at the same time)

  3. Is effective long-term (Considers what the child is thinking, feeling, learning, and deciding about himself and his world – and what to do in the future to survive or to thrive.)

  4. Teaches important social and life skills (Respect, concern for others, problem-solving, and cooperation as well as the skills to contribute to the home, school or larger community.)

  5. Invites children to discover how capable they are (Encourages the constructive use of personal power and autonomy.)

Tips for Practicing Positive Discipline

While the internet is chock full of useful and practical tips for practicing positive discipline in your home, here are some of our favorites. Model the behavior that you want to see in your child by focusing on controlling yourself rather than controlling your child. If you suspect that your kid may be acting out due to a desire for attention, choose only to give notice to the behavior you want. Even though it may be tempting, don’t bribe your children to behave. Instead, make it a priority to spend at least 15 minutes of one on one time a day with each of your kids. In most cases, spending quality time together can be far more effective than bribes.