As a mindful parent, I’m often overwhelmed at how much work is involved in enforcing positive discipline. Along the way, I found that setting the right expectation, looking at situations with objectivity and mindfulness, and utilizing repetition creatively are the three ways that I’m able to gain a successful positive discipline moment.
What is the positive discipline strategy?
It is a process that involves a lot of repetition of the rules to the child so that the child conforms.
- It is a positive process that involves positive words rather than negative words.
- There’s no negotiation. A is A, B is B. A rule must be followed.
- There are no physical rewards to get the child to conform. However, there’s a verbal reward after the child follows the rule.
The right expectations are set repeatedly and creatively by the parent to ensure that the rules are listened to. This way of disciplining requires empathy, lots of patience and lots of positive verbal reinforcements.
A story about one positive discipline moment:
Now that my son’s 2 years old, we are pros at visiting local play spaces. We started going when he was just 6 months old. You would think that he’s well versed with the rules of our outing by now. Yes and No. When the 2 years old rebelliousness strikes, everything goes out the window.
On a recent outing, we went to a play space with bouncy houses. At this play space, it’s required that the child keeps socks on at all times. For the most part, my son usually forgot about his socks when he plays. But on this day, he didn’t like the pair he was wearing. While I was turned away for a minute, my son sits down, takes both of his socks off and enters the bouncy house. This first time, I had no choice but to let it slide and wait for him to come out.
When he came out, I had to initiate my discipline method.
I walked him away from the bouncy house and using my firm voice said, “Sit down, let’s put your socks back on. No socks, no play.”
He, of course, did not want to put socks on. I had to hold on to his feet while he struggled and attempted to put his socks on. It worked, he went back to the bouncy house with socks on each foot.
After some time, he came out again with no socks on his feet.
I said again: “No socks, no play. Let’s put your socks back on.”
This time, he threatened me with a tantrum, getting down on the floor and cried, “No..”
- I picked him up immediately, did not say anything more, and headed for the exits.
- I put him in his stroller, told him again: “No socks, no play. You know the rules. I think you are tired and hungry. Let’s go to the bathroom, change your diaper and then have a snack.”
- I gave him a drink of water immediately as we headed for the bathroom.
In the bathroom, while I changed him, we had a pep talk.
- I gently explained: “No socks, no play. You know the rule.”
- Then, I empathized with him: “I’m sorry you don’t like your socks. We rushed to get out this morning. I didn’t have time to get a better pair.”
- He ended up giving me a hi-five for the pep talk.
- After we finished in the bathroom, I told him: “I know you want to play more. Let’s have a snack first, then when you are done, we can go back but only with socks on. No socks, no play.”
After he ate his snacks, we went back to the play space. Thankfully, They have the unlimited one-day entry pass. While he entered the bouncy house, I said again: “No socks, no play. Just bring your socks out when they fall off your feet and mommy will help you put them back on.”
This time, he did exactly what I told him. He brought me his socks each time they came off his feet by accident. I put them on his feet for him. Then, I told him each time: “Good job bringing mommy socks. Let mommy help.”
When we were leaving the play space, I told him with lots of smiles: “Good job today for following the rules: No socks, no play. You did it, good job.” All the while I’m thinking that we need to practice this sequence more often.
This day remains one of the best days of play for him. He had a great time on that day without tantrums. He also experienced how good it feels to follow a rule that he found difficult to follow on that day. The discipline method raised his confidence rather than diminishing it. At the end of that day, at night, when we talked about the day, he was able to tell me “he went to the bouncy house, he jumped and he played” with a huge smile on his face.
I love parenting wins. These moments build parent’s confidence. This day helped my confidence at disciplining my son. As I write this, I still can’t believe how many times I repeated “No socks, no play.” on that day. But it really worked. The repetition is central to this method. Without yelling, screaming or force, repetition is very soothing for a toddler. It really lets him know that you mean business.
I hope this post has helped to illustrate what a positive discipline moment looks like. Every time I have my parenting fails, I will refer to this example as the one that I look up to. I hope it will help you in tweaking your own parenting as well.
Check out our post on 10 Strategies to Disciplining a Strong Willed Child.
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