Reinforcing Positive Discipline on Your Kids

Positive discipline is a way of setting limits on children without damaging their self esteem. It is important for parents to know how to set limits effectively without harming the child’s self-esteem and this is done through positive discipline.

Psychologists say that this is the best approach to use with children when they misbehave and involves focusing the attention on the behavior and not on the child. Parents also need to distinguish between deliberate behavior and unintentional behavior in order to know how to handle each. Deliberate behavior includes such actions as biting, pushing or hitting, and parents should tell the child that this action is unacceptable.

The power of words

The words you use and how you use them, including your tone and your body language can easily be picked up on by the child. Experts advise refraining from using the word ‘you’ when admonishing a child. For example when you feel like saying “You are very messy,” try saying “I don’t like what you are doing to your toys.” This takes the emphasis out on your child and instead focuses on his or her actions and your reaction to his or her actions.

Letting the small stuff go

Positive discipline also involves letting the small stuff go. Kids are naturally curious in nature and they also are not yet in an age where they can consciously follow rules. Setting too many rules for young children to follow will only frustrate the parent. The best thing to do would be to set a large area that is childproof so there is a lower chance of the child getting into trouble and therefore less need to admonish the child. You can also try to look for alternatives to distract him from doing something that you do not want him to do. For example if you do not want your kids jumping on the table, you can put them down and tell them that they can jump on the floor. Or, the two of you can even jump together. Kids, especially toddlers, need to be allowed to be silly, to run, jump and laugh because this is how they naturally are.


Providing reinforcement when the child does something good is a way to affirm his or her worth and boost his or her self-esteem. It is also important to verbalize your appreciation. Saying “Thank you, I admire that, Good work” will further boost the confidence of your child and help him or her equate doing acceptable behavior with positive feedback from you. Some parents may give the child a treat when he or she does something good. However, the best reinforcement to give any child is your time. Going to the park, to the zoo or taking the child to a favorite ice cream shop after he or she has done all his or her chores for the day are all good ways to reward your child with your time.

Dangers of negative reinforcement

Negative reinforcement, whether in the form of words or actions such as spanking, can lead to a number of behavioral problems in the child. In some cases, this can be damaging to the child’s emotional health.

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