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Discipline and Positive Parenting

Knowing how to best understand and guide your child’s behaviour can be challenging. Luckily there are lots of positive strategies out there to help you and your child through!

Pouting toddler

What is discipline?

Discipline can play an important role in helping support your child to learn about their world and how to explore it safely.

During the early years, discipline can work a little differently than later in life.

Here are some helpful tips about discipline to keep in mind:

  • Discipline is not meant to be punitive or punishing - rather it's designed to be a positive way to help guide positive behaviour
  • It is built upon a loving and caring relationship between you and your child
  • Your approach will depend on your child’s age and temperament
  • Testing boundaries and exploring outcomes of different actions are a natural part of learning for kids - we all have to start somewhere!
  • With your gentle guidance and modelling, your kids will grow and learn how to regulate their own feelings and behaviours in a positive way

Understanding your child’s behaviour

Taking time to understand how your child learns about their world and how they express their needs can help you choose how to guide them.

  • Discipline works best when it is kept simple, warm and supportive
  • Not only does punishing or using negative consequences with babies not work, it can be harmful to their health, growth and development
  • Babies do not understand ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ just yet and can’t think ahead, so when they are tugging at your hair, try to remember they are just testing things out, not trying to be hurtful!
  • At this age, discipline is more about supporting them to begin to understand, manage and express their feelings safely
  • When it comes to toddlers (one year and up), they are often curious and test out their surroundings through touch, making a mess, and making mistakes
  • Toddlers start to understand more about cause and effect, however they are still learning to express their emotions. This may come across as a tantrum, or doing things to get a reaction - patience is a virtue here!

Tips on guiding your child’s behaviour with positive parenting

Your child’s behaviour is a way for them to express their emotions, needs, and is how they learn.

Here are some simple and positive ways you can respond that can help meet their needs and guide their behaviour:

  • Positive attention goes a long way - praise your child, encourage them to try again, give warmth and affection
  • Try to stay patient and calm - remember that testing is a normal part of learning
  • Plan ahead for difficult situations eg. shopping in short bursts and at quiet times
  • Distraction can be helpful for toddlers eg. instead of saying "don’t touch that", you could say "here is that toy you like"
  • Warm and positive responses will help your child feel safe and loved

You are not alone

If you need some extra support with how to support your child at this age, there are lots of options available to you.

Here are some ways to start getting the support you need:

  • Talk to a counsellor for emotional support or to discuss strategies
  • Reach out to a friend or a family member for advice
  • Contact your GP if your child’s behaviour is concerning you
  • Parenting programs like Triple P – Positive Parenting Program

Parentline is here for you

"Remember to take time out for yourself! The more relaxed you are, so are the kids"

- Belle, Parentline Counsellor

This content was last reviewed 09/05/2018

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