Children respond well to encouragement and positive messages. Knowing this, it makes sense that the ideal way to discipline kids would be to use positive reinforcement whenever possible, resorting to punishments only as a last resort.
Very young children (even babies) will repeat actions that reward them with a positive response. If parents smile when babies coo and babble, the babies will continue to coo and babble. The idea that parents have the ability to guide their children’s behaviour by using positives, rather than barking orders and issuing punishments for misdeeds can be very empowering – children can be raised to be cooperative and obedient without feeling frightened or bullied into good behaviour.
Parents set the tone for their households and can choose what types of disciplinary measures that they will utilise within their families. Establishing happy households where children are taught to behave by being rewarded for their good choices are much more pleasant to be around that those in which the parents are constantly noticing only the naughty moments. Children tend to believe, on a very basic level, the things that their parents tell them, so showing kids that they are good and worthy is far better then sending the message that they are thoughtless and naughty.
As kids mature and develop a sense of right and wrong, parents can look for opportunities to send their children positive messages. Toddlers respond well to warm hugs (don’t we all?) and older kids love being told that they are doing a great job. Most kids like having tangible ways to monitor their good deeds and many parents find that sticker charts work especially well.
Parents and children can decide together which items to list on the chart, from chores to positive behaviours. Then, as kids complete their tasks or behave in ways that Mum and Dad appreciate, they earn stickers that are placed in the appropriate spots on the chart. One the chart is filled with stickers, kids earn a reward, possibly a small toy or fun reward. In addition to the agreed upon incentives, parents must remember to point out their pride and appreciation when children do well.
Parents today have a lot on their plates; most work outside of the home and then must spend their non-working hours catching up on chores and errands. All of the hustle and bustle can leave parents feeling drained, both physically and emotionally, increasing the likelihood that they will be short-tempered at times. While children will come to understand that their parents have pressures of their own, establishing a disciplinary routine that includes more yelling and correcting than complimenting and rewarding isn’t healthy for kids. Warm, nurturing care, especially in the early years of children’s lives, starts them off with the feeling that the world is a safe and welcoming place, helping them grow to be positive-thinking, confident adults. Kids are kids for only a short while. Parents would do well to stop every now and then to look around at just how wonderful their children really are – and then, of course, they should share that information with their kids.