Parenting with Positive Discipline


With COVID 19 coming into its 4th month, many parents who are still in lock down are really feeling the stress with children at home for such a long time. Home life can be difficult if parents don’t have breaks, the stress levels can go soaring and time at home can be a war zone. As a parent, we know that positive feedback and experiences from others make us better people. Children need this too.


One of the parenting classes NAFFA sponsors is called Positive Discipline which teaches parents how to change their thinking on discipline and home management. All three sessions won’t be posted here, but two concepts are discussed: Winning cooperation and difference between praise and encouragement. Attending sessions in this curriculum are encouraged to really understand how to improve parenting skills.


When starting on this journey of positive discipline, it helps if parents will envision what characteristics their children should develop. This is like creating a plan for the outcome of an event. Children won’t be perfect but designing a plan for the best outcome is a good step in the right direction. Think about the qualities admired in others like cooperation, compassion, self-control and patience. These might be a few of those qualities’ parents would like to develop in their children. Parents can study ways to accomplish these developed qualities.


Winning Cooperation

From her book Positive Discipline, Jane Nelsen discusses Winning Cooperation: “Children feel encouraged when they think you understand their point of view. Once they feel understood, they are more willing to listen to your point of view and work on a solution to the problem.” This makes sense that children are more willing to listen to their parents after they feel listened to which avoids many power struggles.


Jane Nelsen’s suggests that parents should express understanding for the child’s feelings. This can easily be done by asking back what that child has said. Then parents can show empathy without necessarily agreeing with the child. Parents can understand without condoning. Then parents can share their feelings and perceptions. If the first two steps have been done in a sincere and friendly manner, the child will be ready to listen to you.

If there are challenges discussed, then invite the child to focus on a solution. They might have an idea on how to solve a problem. Discussing without arguing about the solution will help to keep everyone calm.


Praise and Encouragement: Differences?

Research has been studied on children who have been praised constantly by parents instead of encouraged. Praise can help a child be more positive but constant praising creates “approval junkies” instead of children with enhanced self-esteem. Think about using “Good job”, “Thanks for helping,” or “What do you think?” instead of “Good girl”, “You’re such a good girl” or “What do others think”. As parents, we can recognize their responsibility for effort, send a message of respect and appreciation and motivate that child to do what the parent has asked of them.


By using these two simple tools, parents will notice the change in their own children. Of course, natural consequences for their actions still apply as these are only two of the many tools parents can use in helping children grow into happy adults, but it is a good start.

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