Positive Discipline

Positive Discipline: a few things I’ve learned over the years
The biggest lesson I have learned is to try to stay detached. This translates to staying calm and not engaging in a power struggle! Decide ahead of time, if you can, what is important to enforce, and what is not. Even pausing in the moment of conflict to decide whether the issue really matters is helpful. I often took that moment after I’d decreed some rule, and realized that I was coming from my position as the adult and parent in power. When I stopped to think about it, there really was no good reason why x, y or z must be. I learned to say, “I thought about that and I changed my mind. It is ok for you to do x.” Or, “I thought about this some more and it’s ok for you to do x if you do abc first.”
I also believe that often, when children are “misbehaving,” they’re actually expressing a need to move in some way or they are experimenting. For example, every year in the Marmot room, there are a few children who must throw everything that comes into their hands. Instead of outlawing that, I set up a place where it’s safe and permissible to throw to their heart’s content. When they’re full of energy and can’t slow their bodies down, if at all possible one of us will take them outside.
A piece of advice that I got from Francie Gass, one of our local, BTC Parent Educators, is to state your expectations in terms of “when,” or “after,” NOT “if.” For example, if you are asking your child to clean up, say, “when you finish putting away those toys, then you can……” Or, “After you put those away, then you can…....” This makes it clear that you expect the child to do whatever you’re asking. When you use the word, “if,” then you are allowing that there’s a possibility your child won’t do what you’re asking.
It was helpful for me to tell my children what I wanted them to say, or how I wanted them to say it. If they were whining or yelling, I’d say, “I can listen to you when you tell/ask me in your regular voice. Say, ‘Mommy, will you help me?’” Or, “I’d be happy to help you if you ask me politely. Say, “mommy, will you please help me?’”
Naomi Aldort, author of "Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves," says, "A lot of what we expect of children is unreasonable." I agree. I see double-standards in which we are asking things of children that we ourselves do not practice. A big example of this is sharing. I don’t like to share my things, unless it’s my idea. I think that we want our children to be “nice,” and if they can share, that’s proof of “nice.” In the classroom, we emphasize taking turns, rather than sharing. I allow children to have a satisfying turn, which they get to define for themselves, usually. After some time they come to trust that they’ll get a good, long turn, which makes it easier to wait gracefully.
Following is a list of Links to articles, podcasts and TED talks. These are just a few of the seemingly endless resources that came up when I googled “positive discipline.”
Here’s a link to an article on Positive Guidance from NAEYC, the National Association for the Education of Young Children. This organization has been my “guru” since 1985, when I started teaching and taking classes in Early Childhood Education. I trust this organization because their recommendations are grounded in research. You can find articles addressing many topics on their website.
This link takes you to an article by Bridget Bentz Sizer, on the PBSParents website:
Bridget Bentz Sizer:
This link is to a short video on Dr. Jane Nelson’s website. She wrote one of the seminal books on positive discipline, and this is a great “nutshell” of this parenting approach and for me, teaching philosophy. She sums it up by saying, “Positive discipline is not punitive, and it’s not permissive.” She also implies that to discipline is to teach (the word discipline comes directly from Latin disciplina, meaning, "instruction given, teaching, learning, knowledge.").
For podcasts from Jane Nelson:
Another helpful article from the same website:
Here’s an at-a-glance poster with the main tenets of positive discipline:
If you’re willing to sign up, this site offers several very short videos that offer food for thought:
Tips for Parents: Positive Discipline With Sharon Silver on Responding NOT Reacting
Positive Discipline for Toddlers | Isis Parentinghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX0MQ5ZXVio
Dr. Joan Durrant, a clinical child psychologist, describes what positive discipline is, and what it is not. She also provides an overview of her approach to positive discipline, and draws an analogy between building a house and raising children that provides a framework of guiding principles. If you like her, there are numerous others in this series.
Practice Positive Discipline. This is short and sweet and fits into the overall philosophy of attachment parenting.
A quick read with easy-to-digest guidelines: