How to give positive discipline

Better ways than punishment to encourage your child to behave.

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  • How to give positive discipline

    Our word discipline comes from the Latin word 'to teach'. There are often more desirable and effective options than punishment to encourage your children to behave.

    The NSPCC recommends 'positive discipline'. Click through to find out how it works... 

  • How to give positive discipline

    Give as much love as possible:

    You can't spoil your child by showing them too much love. Boost their self-esteem by making them feel cherished, safe and special.

  • How to give positive discipline

    Have clear, simple rules and limits:

    Your child needs to know what the boundaries are, what is and is not acceptable. Keep it simple to avoid confusion and concentrate on behaviour that really matters. 

  • How to give positive discipline

    Set a good example:

    Actions speak louder than words. Let your toddler see that rules apply to everyone in the family, not just him or her. 

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  • How to give positive discipline

    Praise good behaviour:

    Recognise occasions when your child has behaved well and let them know how pleased and proud you are. 

  • How to give positive discipline

    Ignore behaviour you don't want:

    There is nothing more valuable to a child than your time, attention and approval. By ignoring behaviour you don't like and praising good behaviour, you reinforce your child's desire to please you. 

  • How to give positive discipline

    Don't criticise your child directly:

    Rather than telling your child off for being bad, identify what they have done wrong and criticise the behaviour instead.

    Don't say: 'You are unkind for snatching that toy.'

    Do say: 'Snatching that toy was an unkind way to treat your friend.'  

  • How to give positive discipline

    Reward good behaviour with hugs:

    Be as demonstrative as possible. Sweep her off her feet and praise her to high heaven when she's been a good girl. She'll remember how happy it makes her feel and make her want to be good again. 

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  • How to give positive discipline

    Distract from bad behaviour:

    If it looks as though your toddler's behaviour is starting to deteriorate, step in before things go wrong. Redirect them to another activity to avoid conflict. 

  • How to give positive discipline

    Allow children some control:

    They need to learn about dealing with choices and decisionmaking. Don't impose your decisions on them all the time, let them have their say. For example: choose which coat to wear (from a selection of two); which shape pasta to have for lunch; whether they would prefer blue or green socks. 

Last updated on 5 September 2007

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