Creative Child

The Ultimate Guide to Positive Discipline

by Rebecca Eanes

This is the third post in my series of ultimate guides. First was The Ultimate Guide to Tantrums and the second was The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Child to Listen. I’ve written before here about my three steps to positive discipline.

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I thought it’d be helpful to share with your some scenarios which show what positive discipline looks like in action. These scenarios come from the book, Positive Parenting in Action: The How-To Guide for Putting Positive Parenting Principles into Practice, by Laura Ling and myself.

Scenario #1 - Danger:

Your 2-1/2 year old son doesn't like to hold hands when walking through parking lots or in large crowds. Every time you try to hold his hand, he pulls it away and tries to run, or he fusses at you and claims "I can do it myself!"

Behind the behavior: Independence

It’s a toddler’s job to start developing his autonomy and that means doing things on his own. Because he’s just starting to develop empathy (being able to see things from another's point of view) he doesn’t realize that the drivers may not see him or be able to stop in time. He just knows that he wants to walk the way he wants to walk and that running is fun, too.

Safety is non-negotiable. I wouldn't say to him, "Well OK, but please stay close" and risk him darting in front of a car or losing him in a crowd. Remember, positive parenting is not permissive parenting. While it’s important to foster independence and competency, it’s more important to keep him safe.

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1. Before getting out of the car, explain to your toddler what is going to happen.

2. If you can offer him a choice, do so. "Would you like to ride in the stroller or hold my hand?" If the stroller/cart is not an option, explain in simple terms that you must keep him safe, and to do that, he needs to hold your hand.

3. As you take his hand, try to engage him in something that takes his mind off the hand-holding. "Let's look for red cars" or "let's skip to the door."

4. If he cries or protests, empathize with his upset. Get down on his level. "I know you want to walk by yourself, but my job is to keep you safe. I don't want you to get lost! Now let's look for red cars! There's one! Do you see another?"

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5. If he still struggles to free himself, carry him. You may have to endure a few unpleasant ventures.

6. Acknowledge his need and empathize with his upset, but stick to your limit. He'll soon learn it's a non-negotiable.

More scenarios continued on the next page...

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