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Swimlabs blog

Friday, July 14, 2023 by Rita Cunha

Positive Discipline Raises Happy, Healthy Kids; Here's How

Picture this: you're at a restaurant with your kiddo, they refuse to eat and start throwing a tantrum. What do you do? Mortifying, right?

Strict parents will likely loudly chastise their child, while permissive parents may ignore the misbehavior altogether. But which method works best?

Turns out, probably neither. Positive discipline is an emerging (and increasingly popular) approach developed by child psychologists.

What is Positive Discipline?

Positive discipline is one of the most effective parenting strategies for behavior control in children of all ages. It teaches them what behaviors are good and bad. Unlike more traditional parenting styles, it's not about punishing bad actions by yelling or spanking. Instead, it treats children with respect and kindness, while also being firm about ground rules.

3 Reasons to Practice Positive Discipline

This approach may not come naturally to many parents, but it's worth the effort. Here are some of the benefits kids and parents can reap:

  1. Nurturing emotional intelligence in kids. Positive discipline teaches kids to recognize their emotions, understand where they come from, and strategies to deal with them in healthy ways.
  2. Promoting effective communication. Because positive discipline is all about communication, your child will learn how to express themselves clearly, as well as how to listen to others.
  3. Building strong parent-child relationships. Children are just like adults: they like being treated with respect. Positive discipline is built on mutual respect, which avoids the resentment, hurt, and trauma that comes with authoritarian disciplining techniques like physical punishment. The parent-child bond grows stronger.

5 Positive Discipline Techniques for Children You Can Try Today

These five proven practical strategies are a great place to start if you want to set your child up for success.

1. Active Listening

Listening to your child shows them you value their thoughts and feelings. Get down to their eye level, make eye contact, and engage with what they have to say — no matter how small it may seem. The more valued and comfortable they feel, the more likely they are to come to you as they grow up with worries and problems.

2. Setting Clear Boundaries

Positive discipline is not the same as being permissive. Set your ground rules firmly and communicate them to your child in an age-appropriate way. Instead of stating "because I said so," explain why those rules exist and lay out the consequences.

3. Promoting Empathy

Encourage your child to consider other people's feelings before acting. Talk to them about how what they do affects others. The goal is to have them do good things not because you forced them to, but because it's the kind, just action to take.

4. Modeling Good Behavior

Kids take cues from everything their parents do, including how they express their feelings. When adults lose their cool and yell because they're angry, children learn that's acceptable and mimic the behavior. Instead, adults should talk about their feelings, explain why they feel that way and deal with those emotions in a healthy way (like taking a breather or through arts and crafts). This is key to learning self-regulation.

5. Encouraging Your Child

Show your child they're on the right path by encouraging them. Focus on the action, not on their character. For example, saying "You did a great job on that test, and I'm proud of you for studying even though I know you wanted to play video games instead," can do wonders in keeping them motivated to rock their school year. It's more elaborate, meaningful, and effective than just saying "You're a great student," which undercuts your child's effort.

Create a Safe and Loving Environment for Your Kiddo to Thrive

Parenting is a bumpy ride, but positive discipline can help smooth it out. Before you know it, you'll see signs of your child's burgeoning, well-rounded personality.

Keep on fostering your child's budding skills and passions, whether as they express their creativity artistically or as they learn to swim. Raising confident, self-assured, emotionally intelligent children takes years, and your hard work will eventually have paid off.