In our last blog post, we talked about some ways to practice positive discipline with your children. As promised, we have some more tips for you.
1. Give Attention To Behavior You Like and Ignore Behavior You Don’t Like
Sometimes our children act out because they want our attention. Sometimes it pays to ignore their unpraiseworthy actions. Dr. Katharine C. Kersey, the author of “The 101s: A Guide to Positive Discipline calls this the “Rain on the grass, not on the weeds” principle. If your children are whining, play deaf or walk away so that they’ll learn there are better ways to communicate.
Redirecting behavior is often more effective than yelling at our kids or immediately disciplining them. Kids who hear “no” or “don’t” all the time begin to tune those directives out. They just become words to them. So instead of telling your child what not to do, Kersey recommends offering a positive behavior instead. For example, a child acting out at a grocery store could be enlisted to help pick out items for dinner. Redirect their bad behavior with good behavior.
3. Exploit the “Energy Drain”
Any parent knows that dealing with a tantrum or a sibling fight can be extremely exhausting. You may be able to use your exhaustion to your advantage. Jim Fay, the founder of the organization Love and Logic calls this the “energy drain” principle. An example might be defusing a sibling fight by saying “please take that fight somewhere else because I’m not going to have enough energy to take you to the park after dinner if you keep going.”
4. Avoid Bribing
Oh, how tempting it is to offer a cookie to your child so they’ll be quiet in church or behave well in public but Fay says that offering a reward sends the wrong message. What kids hear is “You don’t want to be very good and you have to be paid off,” says Fay.
“The best reward for a kid is time with the parents,” Fay says. Kersey agrees that quality time is the key to raising happy, well-behaved children. Fay recommends that each parent spend at least 15 minutes one-on-one time with their children per day. “Do something your child wants to do,” Kersey suggests. “Whisper in their ear how wonderful they are, how much you love them…It’s the best investment you can make in your child.”