Creative Child

3 Steps to Positive Discipline

by Rebecca Eanes


Step Two: Calm Yourself and Your Child

Undisciplined parents cannot effectively discipline children. Put on your own oxygen mask first. Ensure everyone’s safety, then take a moment to breathe. Move from emotionally reactive to cognitively responsive before you deal with the problem at hand. Once you are calm, help your child become calm. Calm brains take in and process information better than dysregulated brains, so wait until everyone’s rational brains prevail before moving forward to solve the issue.

To calm your child, try utilizing a calm-down area. Don’t worry, this won’t reward her for misbehavior. Instead, it teaches her a valuable and much needed life skill – the same one you just used when you disciplined yourself by calming down first – this teaches her self-discipline.

Step Three: Teach and Problem-Solve

The typical go-to methods, such as time out, spanking, and revocation of privileges, are effective in showing the child what they are not allowed to do, but fall short in teaching the child what they can and should do. That’s really the most important part because without knowing better ways to get their needs met, they will continue to use undesirable methods.

Assuming the child knows what is expected of him and how to manage himself sets him up for failure and sets us up for disappointment. Behavior management is a skill that has to be learned, and we must teach it well. Problem-solving with your child teaches behavior management and ensures they learn accountability. Rather than delivering a consequence, ask your child to offer solutions on how to fix his mistake or handle himself better the next time. Questions I ask are, “What caused this to happen?” “What did you learn?” “How can you handle this better in the future?”

These 3 steps proved successful when my boys were toddlers and are still successful now that they’re older. When your child misbehaves, it’s time for you to ACT. A = assess. C = calm everyone down. T = teach and problem-solve.

Related Article: Accept Feelings, Limit Actions

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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