8 Methods for Implementing Positive Discipline

by Heligirl on June 15, 2010

in Parenting Tidbits,Positive Discipline

Another installment in my Positive Discipline articles.

We’re hitting that lovely stage here in Jen’s World where Sweetness is all about the boundary testing. If I haven’t said her name in a kind but firm tone at least 3,867 times in a day, I’ve just not done my job. She’s throwing blocks, kicking the dog, pushing on the screen door to the point where the screen is about to pop out, slapping her brother, crashing her car into my flowerpots, dropping food on the floor and any other thing she can possibly do to see if she can get a rise out of us (even when we’re not even in the room).

It’s times like these that I need to refresh my memory and dive into books to get some more ammo in the ongoing war to help create a capable child without going crazy, or become a drunk.

In Jane Nelsen’s Positive Discipline for Preschoolers, she starts the book with a simple list of eight methods for implementing positive discipline. Remember, it really starts to work around age three and that’s about where we are. Time to put this stuff to the true test.

1.    Get children involved in the creation of routines, through the use of limited choices, and by providing opportunities to help.

We’ve been doing this one for a while and it really does work well. We have developed a routine that we follow religiously. I can even ask now what we do next and that can get her into the swing of things. I also offer her choices – this shirt or that one, the liquid or the solid soap to wash, etc. And asking her to help me do something works like a charm. She loves to feel helpful and we pour on the encouragement when she steps in to help.

2.    Teach respect by being respectful

A great example of this is respecting that kids this age can’t up and stop what they’re doing if they’re deeply engaged in an activity. In this case, give warnings. For instance, we always tell her “five more minutes to play before we clean up for supper.” I’ve found we are much more ept to get cooperation when there is a warning.

3.    Use your sense of humor

Sometimes you just have to get down and silly. Once Sweetness refused to put on her shoes to go out. In a total loss of things to do, I just got down on the floor and said, OK, I’ll put them on, and started trying to put my feet into her shoes. This made her stop. She kept telling me no, then I tried to put them on my hands, then on my ears until she was laughing and trying to take them away from me to put on her own feet. Not every situation is appropriate to use humor, and you have to be careful to not make fun of them in your silly attempts (see number 2).

4.    Get into your child’s world

Basically, understand your child’s abilities and limits. Kids this age get frustrated easily. If your little guy is really upset that you’re leaving the playground, even though you gave him warnings, show some empathy. Give a hug and say, “You are really upset right now. I know you want to stay.” When in doubt, ask yourself how you’d feel in his shoes.

5.    Say what you mean then follow through with kindness and firmness.

Jane Nelsen warns parents that kids can tell when you mean what you say and when you don’t. She suggests staying quiet, only speaking when you mean it. Then follow through. This could be redirecting or showing a child what she can do instead of punishing for what she can’t. It can also be wordlessly picking up a child and carrying him away from the playground without argument, anger or battle. Jane says, “when this is done kindly, firmly, and without anger, it will be both respectful and effective.”

6.    Be patient

Oh how I fail in this area. We as parents just have to understand that sometimes we’ll have to teach the same things over and over and over and over again. Then you have to do it all over again. Understanding the developmental stage your child is currently in can help. This is a really hard one for me because I get very frustrated that I have said at least 76 kajillion times that blocks are for playing, not throwing. I’m scared her brother will get hurt or she’ll clock the Chihuahua to the point of brain damage. Sometimes I do lose it and yell. I have to remember to act like the adult and not take it personally.

7.    Act, don’t talk – and supervise carefully.

This means rather than wasting all your breath rationalizing with your little one, act. This is really good when I’m super pissed off. I know I’d say disrespectful things if I spoke after watching her kick the dog. Instead, I firmly, but calmly, take her hand and lead her to her room where she can have some positive time out to read quietly, away from the dog. If I went on and on respecting the dog it will all go in one ear and out the other. The supervising part means even if your little one seems to be handling herself really well (playing nice with her cars), you still need to supervise because they are still very impulsive little creatures and will haul off and slap their brother silly for no apparent reason right when you’re not looking. Not that I’m projecting or anything.

8.    Accept appreciation in your child’s uniqueness.

It doesn’t matter if Johnny down the street, your brother’s preschooler, or your little one’s best friend can do something, it doesn’t mean your child should be able to do it to. Kids develop differently and we only contribute to their misbehavior if we have unrealistic expectations. For instance, if your little one is developmentally incapable of sitting still for more than 20 minutes, you’re setting yourself up for disaster if you go to a restaurant and expect him to sit there and be good for an hour.

Jane in the end of this section suggests we consider ourselves coaches, helping our children succeed. We are also observers, learning about our own child’s unique abilities and limitations and working with them to teach what they need to know to succeed.


Nicole ( Pink Elephants) June 15, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Great post. I always need a refresher course when I’m feeling like I’ve run out of things to say to my daughter.

Twitter: Heligirl
June 16, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Thanks Nicole. Glad these are helpful. The constant reminder thing is the whole reason I write these articles. They keep me on the straight and narrow. 🙂

Susan June 16, 2010 at 5:44 am

Those are fantastic points. (Never had the PD for preschoolers book, but did have Birth to Three and PD). Re-reading them (it’s been a while) reminds me of why parenting young kids with Positive Discipline is more work than sitting and yelling across the room. When you Act, don’t talk, and then supervise carefully & say what you mean and then follow through, it requires paying attention, staying with your child (possibly moving all over the place), and getting down to their level to talk with them at times. PD requires a parent to think, strategize, and teach, teach teach. That all takes time and energy. But, boy is it worth it! It really pays off.

Great post.

Twitter: Heligirl
June 16, 2010 at 6:27 pm

You’re telling me! Man I’m so exhausted at the end of the day and I clearly see why people just want to yell and punish. It takes a lot less energy. I try to think of it as I’m spending the energy now while she pays attention to me so I don’t have to beat my head against the wall as much when she’s a teen and refuses to hear I word I say. 🙂

Thanks for all your wonderful support Susan. You’re a great pal!

Pamela June 16, 2010 at 9:11 am

Thanks so much for the tips – I’m gonna bookmark these. I also need lots of help with the “Patience” one. I do try, but usually end up losing it at some point during the day:(

Twitter: Heligirl
June 16, 2010 at 6:28 pm

That patience thing is really, really hard. I so hear you. Positive Discipline takes so much time and energy. I often am out of patience by the end of the day.

Booyah's Momma June 16, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Thanks for the reminders. I’m bookmarking this one as well!

#3 is a great one, that I need to take advantage of more often. I find that sometimes, getting my child to laugh makes ME laugh and takes the pressure off an otherwise tense situation.

Twitter: Heligirl
June 17, 2010 at 9:03 am

I love that one too, but dang it’s hard to do when you have steam coming out of your ears. 🙂

Stacie June 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Thanks for the post, these are great refreshers! I agree about #3, and I also agree that it’s tough to do in the midst of the frustration, lol. There are times that I am looking at my kids and thinking, “Now I finally understand why God made you so cute…it’s so I let you see your next birthday.” These are definitely great reminders. Thanks!

Twitter: Heligirl
June 20, 2010 at 8:08 am

Ha, ha, ha, ha. I often think the same thing – babies are cute so we don’t kill them. I keep telling myself once they get past this pushing boundaries testing stage, things will be better, but I know all too well it will be replaced with yet another challenge. I am trying to see this as training to prepare me for the teenage years.

Molly June 21, 2010 at 5:55 am

I employ the humor technique more often than not. I sit for a 28 month old and more often than not I end up putting her shoes “on” my feet.

LeeAnn July 9, 2010 at 8:07 am

I need to print this post out and keep it with me at all times! I, too, struggle with patience when I have to tell my daughter 6,398 times to do something and she just doesn’t listen. These methods will definitely help us accomplish more, without so much irritation.

We have already found that humor and silliness work great! The example you gave about your daughter not wanting to put on her shoes is definitely something that would go on in our house.

I know I’m late here…I am trying to catch up! 🙂
LeeAnn recently posted: Weekend Review – Boogie Wipes Giveaway

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