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How to Practice Positive Discipline

Written By:

Maryam Salassi

Aug 30, 2019

Hi friends! I’m so excited to share this series on positive discipline my friend Kim will be sharing on the blog! You can read the rest of her posts here. She’s a fabulous makeup artist and a preschool teacher turned parenting coach who really believes that tiny humans have voices that need to be heard. I highly recommend getting to know her if you don’t already!


I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz phrase: Positive Discipline. It seems like an oxymoron and full of fluff, and if you read my last blog post here, you already know three steps to start. But, you may still have some questions.

Is it praise?

Is it lacking structure?

Do the kids rule the roost?

Whatever questions you have, I am here to answer them for you so you can be a PD Master!

What is positive discipline?

At the foundation of PD is the concept that all children are good and if you focus on positive behavior, children will choose to behave positively.

Let’s look at the opposite model, Negative Discipline (ND).

The disciplinarian’s behavior often mimics that of the child: angry, destructive, and violent which results in shame and shows the child that this type of behavior is appropriate. We know from Brene Brown that shame continues bad behavior because it, “corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.

On the other side of the coin, PD aims to show children productive and positive ways to handle their emotions. This is also known as modeling or “do as I do”. 

Why do people engage in Negative Discipline?

So often our discipline style is a reaction to how we were raised. Whether a person agrees with how they were raised, feels the opposite, or simply don’t know any other way, there’s no denying that our own backgrounds influence our parenting.

Far too often I hear, “I was spanked and I turned out ok.”

This may feel true, but I challenge those people to take a deeper look and ask themselves the following:

  • What is your self-talk? Is it kind? Do you believe in your abilities and success? 
  • What is/was your relationship with the person who spanked you? Was there fear? 
  • How do you handle stressful situations now? Can you take them in stride? Or do you get upset and wound up easily?

The negative effects of spanking is an entirely separate blog post in itself, but you get the point.

How to practice Positive Discipline.

I will be very honest with you; PD takes a lot of patience in the beginning. It is not easy. Give yourself grace and know you’ll be better off in the long run and it is never too late to start. However, if you are switching from ND to PD, it will take some time for your child to trust in the change.

  • Work from a place of empathy and compassion. Try to understand WHY and support your child to change their reaction and respond appropriately.
  • Example: child A has been working hard to build the tallest magnatile building when child B walks by and knocks it down- whether or not it was intentional is not the point here. Child A is upset (understandably) and hits child B. An adult practicing PD would get down to their level and say something to the effect of, “I see you’re upset. You’ve been working so hard on building this tower.” They do not problem solve while the child is seeing red. Instead, they hold space for their emotions and discuss alternative reactions once the child is calm and ready to talk.
  • Redirection is your secret weapon. Instead of saying no all the time, show them what else they can do. 
  • Example: your child keeps jumping off the couch when you’ve asked them kindly to stop multiple times already. Instead of yelling and getting upset with your child or punishing them, gently remove them from that area and give them a safe place to do what they need to such as jumping into a pile of pillows or on a trampoline.
  • Give them attention. This seems obvious right? Of course you’re going to give your child attention, BUT! Give your child the amount of attention THEY need before they start seeking your attention in a negative way. Look for their clues, children are always showing us what they need.  But if they do start seeking attention in a negative way, don’t shame them for it. They are doing what they can to get their needs met.
  • Boundaries and expectation help a child to feel safe. When children know what to and not to expect from us, their environment, and their schedule, they feel calm in knowing and they often respond by showing more positive behavior. The more you follow through, the better behaved your child will be.
  • Example: you can do this by verbally or visually communicating the daily schedules and routines, setting the expectation that you will not argue, and simply by doing what you say you will.
  • “Do as I do.” How many times were you told, “do as I say, not as I do”? This is completely ass backwards. While many situations are only appropriate for adults, in general, your behavior should reflect what you expect from your child.
  • Example: If you want them to speak quietly, then you have to do so yourself as well.


The bottom line.

The ultimate goal is to support children to feel confident and happy within themselves so they can be happy productive adults! 

If you’re still not sure where to start…

That is where I step in.
Sometimes it takes an unbiased look at your life from an outsider to figure out the small tweaks
that can make a big impact. Not only will I help you master positive discipline, but together we will
take a look at why you’re still feeling overwhelmed and what we can do about it.
Maybe it’s mindset.
Maybe it’s a lack of organization.
Regardless, by working with me you will take ownership of your life to create the feelings you
desire and deserve!

Find me here:

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