Every parent and teacher struggles at one time or another with how to set limits on children's behavior. The goal of positive discipline is to teach children to develop safe, socially responsible behavior that promotes self-respect and respect for the feelings and property of others. Children prefer positive attention rather than negative attention, and you can encourage desirable behavior through positive techniques.
Guidelines for Setting Limits
- When you discipline children, always make sure they understand that they are accepted and loved, but their behavior is not.
- Keep rules simple and specific. When a rule is broken, state the rule and direct the child toward correcting the mistake.
- Avoid a power struggle, especially with two and four year olds.
- Don't confuse children by offering choices when the choices should be yours.
- Avoid overusing "no." Instead, save it for when you really need it.
- Use a warning first, and then follow through. Redirect the child toward acceptable activities.
- State the problem and ask the child to brainstorm some solutions.
- Point out the effects of the different solutions, and help the child decide on a course of action.
- With older children, problem solving can also be used to set family or group rules.
- When children help to make the rules, they are more likely to follow them.
- Help children understand that behaviors and choices have consequences.
- Natural consequences - what naturally results from actions - can be powerful teaching tools.
- Gently point out what happened and why.
- When natural consequences are not appropriate or safe, set a logical consequence - something that is related to the behavior.
- Then, always follow through with your actions.
- Make sure the consequence is respectful of the child and is reasonable for him to follow.
Teaching problem-solving skills takes time, but the results are long-lasting.
Remember that discipline and punishment are not the same.
Positive discipline is more effective than punishment.
Desireable behaviors that last a lifetime must come from within the child rather than be imposed by external force.