You’ve probably heard the terms positive parenting and positive discipline a lot, especially with the endless memes and jokes about positive parents versus reality. Yes, we all want to be positive parents! Let’s go and be positive parents! What? Wait a sec! Do we even know what that is?
I’m sure hundreds of questions popped up in your mind, so here is all you need to know.
What is positive discipline?
Positive Discipline (PD) is a parenting approach that aims at raising respectful, responsible, and resourceful children. Parenting expert, Dr. Jane Nelsen, lists five criteria for positive discipline, as follows:
1- The parent has to be firm and kind at the same time. The kindness is respectful for the child, while the firmness is relevant to the needs of the situation. The key is to combine kindness while being firm, because if you dealt with every situation with excessive kindness without firmness, you’ll be too permissive, and if you dealt with firmness only, you’ll be too controlling without respecting the child and their needs.
2- The parent has to treat their children in a positive way to make them feel important and significant. Developing a sense of belongingness and significance is a primary need for all people and children in specific. If the child doesn’t feel that way, they try to manifest that through unpreferred behaviors which could be through seeking attention, violence, revenge, giving up, etc.
3- PD provides the tools to work on the child’s character building in the long term and not just quick fixes.
4- PD tools help children acquire and develop valuable social and life skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, listening skills, etc.
5- PD also helps the child develop a sense of their own capabilities and how to use these capabilities and powers in useful ways to be an added value to their society.
The development of the positive discipline approach
The Positive Discipline approach – first introduced in 1981 by Dr. Jane Nelsen – is based on the Adlerian philosophy. Founded by the 1800s physician and psychotherapist, Alfred Adler, it gives due care to the psychological aspect and the human’s sense of belongingness.
The PD approach avoids the punishment/reward technique to nurture the child through responding to their basic need of belongingness and feeling significant as children do better when they feel better.
Positive parenting versus permissive parenting
That being said, there’s a huge difference between positive parenting and permissive parenting, as the latter is a parenting style with very few rules, whereas parents don’t treat children as if they are mature and delegate even small responsibilities for them.
How to apply positive discipline in our day-to-day life?
Certified Positive Discipline Educator, Rana Hany, shared with us the following tips:
1- The golden rule is being kind and firm at the same time. Do it through respecting the child’s desires but sticking to your word while showing all acts of kindness and understanding possible. Never get into the cycle firm now and kind later; it won’t work and will be confusing for the child.
2- Set clear boundaries.
3- Focus on teaching the child the consequence of their behavior and not punishment. The child who understands that every action has a consequence would behave out of responsibility, unlike the child who’s usually punished. They’d avoid a certain behavior because they feel that they’re being watched, but would do the same if alone.
4- Focus on the reason behind the behavior. When the child misbehaves, you don’t have to act immediately, it’s more important to focus on what led your child to behave in a certain way, as the behavior is just the tip of the iceberg, and beneath it, there are big feelings, that are often rooted from the feeling of belonging and significance.
4- Read more on Positive Discipline. There are 52 tools of positive discipline, and as a parent, you need to try whatever works for you, not to get confused between PD and other concepts and parental styles.
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