What Is Positive Discipline:6 Simple Techniques To Use At Home

What Is Positive Discipline:6 Simple Techniques To Use At Home

Learn how to manage the energy shift in your home when you’re about to start yelling because your little one is on the verge of a tantrum over the colour of a cup.

I’m a mom who used to yell, and heck I sometimes still do, but I’m trying to be a lot simple better using these positive discipline techniques.

I’ve been studying positive parenting from various resources over the past few years and I’ve had some amazing luck putting it into play at home.

I’m telling you, my parenting style has transformed and my children rarely throw tantrums and have a bad attitude.


It may seem like a no brainer that positive over negative parenting will win, but if that thought is not even in mind, you’re probably not even realizing that your parenting method may be negative. Enjoy these peaceful, gentle and positive parenting tricks that will help keep the peace in your home.

This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here. 

What Is Positive Discipline?

Positive discipline is highly focused on creating a strong relationship with children and parents bonded with mutual respect and communication.

This is the definition of positive discipline according to Wikipedia:

Positive Discipline (or PD) is a discipline model used by schools, and in parenting, that focuses on the positive points of behaviour, based on the idea that there are no bad children, just good and bad behaviors. You can teach and reinforce the good behaviors while weaning the bad behaviors without hurting the child verbally or physically. People engaging in positive discipline are not ignoring problems. Rather, they are actively involved in helping their child learn how to handle situations more appropriately while remaining calm, friendly and respectful to the children themselves. Positive discipline includes a number of different techniques that, used in combination, can lead to a more effective way for parents to manage their kids behaviour, or for teachers to manage groups of students. Some of these are listed below. Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is a structured, open-ended model that many parents and schools follow. It promotes positive decision making, teaching expectations to children early, and encouraging positive behaviors.[1]

When using the positive parenting approach, you not only define the rule but you also explain why that rule is important.

When the positive parenting approach is used, children do not obey orders based on fear of punishment but because they understand why they need to perform the task at hand and its importance.

Parents who use this approach layout rules and consequences and often discuss them with their children. Most importantly, any consequences that are discussed should be followed through.

One of the most important aspects of positive parenting is actively listening to the children. Trying to understand their thoughts so you can better understand the reason behind their actions and correct any behaviour issues from the core.

Benefits Of Positive Parenting

Positive parenting helps children love themselves and develop self-discipline through the loving guidance of the parent.

Children respond to gentle guidance rather than punishments and threats and therefore positive parenting is the most effective form of discipline.

Here are some of the benefits of positive parenting :

  1. Understanding Of Feelings And Dealing With Big Emotions
  2. Stronger Relationships With Family And Friends
  3. Happier Families Who Understand And Respect Each Other
  4. Better Behaviour Overall
  5. Reduced Tantrums In Younger Children
  6. Successful Kids And Well Rounded Adults

And so many more!

Related: Powerful Cure For Whining And Crying – (Why Do Kids Whine)

Using positive discipline strategies in your day to day parenting results in raising some pretty awesome kids who will likely call you often when they leave home because your relationship is that strong.

I cannot stress the power of this type of parenting.

Many people mistake the words “positive parenting” to be pushover parenting, or giving in to kids and giving them whatever they want in order to keep a happy relationship, but they are mistaken because they don’t know what positive discipline actually is.

Positive parenting is much deeper and discipline is encouraged – just in a different way.

Related: Positive Discipline Examples To Help You Effortlessly Navigate Difficult Behaviour

6 Simple Positive Parenting Techniques

1. Regulating Your Own Reactions

Sometimes when a situation is out of control, remember the things you can control, and that is YOUR actions and reactions.

Children copy your behaviour, so if you can regulate your reaction in a positive and calm way, your children will be able to see that this is the right way to handle situations. 

If you are constantly flying off the handle and yelling, your kids will yell back at you. I know how difficult it is to not get angry sometimes when your children continue the behaviour that is defiant.

My trick is to turn away from my child and take a deep breath. Remind myself that this child is just a child and he does not know much better, I need to teach him how to handle his emotions.

Then I can calmly turn back around, smile gently and have a calm chat about the situation.

When you are in need of setting up a consequence for certain behaviour and you need a moment to figure out the proper response, take that moment. Really figure out which consequence fits the behaviour, or see if there is a natural consequence that can occur.

For example, if your child is having a tough time with emptying the backpack after school and placing it by the front door so that you can put the filled up lunchbox in it in the morning, then you can go ahead and handle the situation like this:

In a calm voice, state ahead of time, “I’m happy to make you a lunch every morning for school, as long as your backpack is ready to go at the front door. If it’s not ready and not in its place, it’ll be up to you to make sure your backpack is properly packed for school”

You can then follow up with ” Is there anything you would like to do to help you remember to place your backpack by the front door every day?” Your child may want to make a morning routine chart or add a sticky note to the bathroom mirror.

Make sure your child understands the consequence of not putting the backpack by the front door by asking them to repeat the discussed task back to you.

If your child is having a tough time remembering the task, do your best not to remind them about it and let the consequence of an unprepared backpack at school be the lesson.

2. Treat Your Children How You Wish They Would Treat Themselves

The way that you talk to your child will greatly affect the way that your child will talk to themselves. If you use harsh punishment and harsh words, then your child’s inner voice will have the same tone.

If you discipline your children harshly, they will never learn proper self – discipline. 

Discipline means “to train by instruction and exercise” while punishing means “to inflict a penalty for (an offence, fault, etc.)” or “to handle severely or roughly.”

Research Gate states that harsh punishment results in worse behaviour.

So basically, if you are constantly punishing your child in a negative way, they will learn to talk to themselves negatively, act out harder and essentially never learn self-discipline.

We can teach our children to solve problems without using blame and shame, and actually have them become well rounded, capable adults.

Related: Teaching Kids To Share The Right Way

3. Rewards Are A No-No

Rewards are a very common way for parents to make their children feel good about accomplishing a goal. Even though the word reward sounds like a positive thing, giving out rewards to children can be harmful.

As parents, our big portion of the job runs about 18 years, and sometimes beyond that.

Rewards offer a short term gain, but our goal as parents is to teach long term lessons that really stick with our kids.

Studies show that children who get rewards for completing activities, show less interest in that activity than children who are not offered a reward for completion.

A great example of offering rewards that most parents (myself included) have done would be dessert after mealtimes.

It’s actually a common thing in our household, you eat your dinner, you get the ice cream. We have adjusted this situation so we can still eat ice cream after dinner when I remember to buy it, but it’s not used as a bribe or reward anymore.

Now that your little one knows dinner can be sold for the price of ice cream, he will likely hold out on eating dinner until he is offered ice cream instead.

4. Avoid Time Outs

Timeouts are a form of banishment and are most definitely a negative parenting approach.

They cause the child to feel humiliated and small. Not only do time outs deteriorate the relationship between you and your child, but they also don’t teach the child a lot about the situation that got them into that time out.

For more information about why time outs do not work, read this really great article from ahaparenting.

This is also a great video on using positive parenting techniques on 2-year-olds specifically. We all know 2 is a particularly interesting age!

Related: How to Get your Child To Open Up – With the 5 Simple Tips For Getting Kids To Talk

5. Strengthen Your Relationships Daily

Every night before I head to bed, I reflect on my day and how my children reacted to me and how I reacted to them that day.

If something did not go the way I had wanted it to, I will put it in my planner as an action step to complete the next day with my child.

My child will say things such as I hate you and I wish you didn’t live in the house when I set a boundary that may seem unfair to my child.

Those words cut me deep, I suppose  I am a very sensitive person and it is so hard for me to realize that my child is 6 years old and doesn’t really know what he is saying.

It is now my responsibility to react in a positive way and diffuse this situation. During my daily reflection time, if I believe I could have done better in a situation like this, I try to talk to my child about it the next day. Talking and listening to each other strengthens our bond.

6. In A Situation Where One Child May Be Causing Harm To Another, Set Your Limits But Connect Through Empathy

For example, if my sons are hitting each other, It is a good idea to break up that situation by saying something like hitting is not allowed in this house, you can tell your brother what you need and how you feel without hitting.

This is a great time to try to connect with your child by spending quality time together. Remember that children need us the most when they are pushing us away.

A Reason To Eliminate “Stop” From Your Daily Life

We are pretty much raised on the words “Stop” “Don’t” and “No”. It can be tricky to bend the mind and learn positive phrases to use instead.

The things is, when we say the word “Stop”, it’s as if we are demanding or coaching instructions at our little people, who let’s face it, need a little extra guidance for all tasks given to them.

When we learn to use positive language when communicating with our little people, we connect on a deeper level with someone who is still developing their speaking skills.

Breaking down the barriers of communication at an early age will help in the tough years when communication gets extra difficult.

The term Gentle Parenting is not about conforming to the next best thing and being soft parents raising children who are entitled and don’t know punishment.

I’ve heard all the judgements out there! It’s a harsh world where everyone has an opinion.

Gentle Parenting is all about understanding the brain development of kids and young adults and learning to speak in ways that they can understand.

As Mrs. Brill Over At Positive Parenting Connection Experienced:

Just this morning my two year old was washing her hands. The water had been running for almost a minute and I really wanted it turned off.I was really tempted to just shut the water.

Yet, knowing just how engaged and happy she was washing her hands and investigating the soap, I asked a few quick questions instead: “Are you enjoying washing your hands?”  “YES!” “Well,the water has been running for a while.

How about turning it off? Who is going to do it, me or You? “I do it Self!” came the answer and promptly.

She turned off the water and moved onto drying her hands.  

Read More At Positive Parenting Connection

It’s really all about telling our children what they CAN do, instead of the opposite, negative “No”.

Accompanying the YES in our positive phrases, there is also explanation and reasoning behind the YES which helps them understand and problem solve the situation and understand the reasoning behind the hidden NO.

Related: 6 Must Read Best Positive Parenting Books That Will Make You A Better Parent

Speaking To Children Respectfully

The point of Gentle Parenting isn’t to simply stop sounding like an army general commander who constantly orders their children around.

There is more to it than that. The point of speaking to children in a respectful manner is to simply create strong bonds and unbreakable family ties.

I know I strive to create a family environment that is positive, welcoming and we treat each other well.

There are many hard days in our household, and it feels like sometimes, there isn’t enough patience – on my end – to go around.

But the thing is, I know that when I yell instructions at my kids, things don’t get accomplished, and I end up either having to do it myself or yelling some more.

These kinds of situations that are frustrating beyond belief, can usually be wiped out completely with some positive language.

Building that trust with your children when you use positive phrases builds strong relationships and children usually believe that the parent is on their side and will work to make things fair for everyone.

Sometimes even the kindest parents are giving some type of order to children throughout the day. Throughout the morning rush, do you say things like:

  • Time to get dressed!
  • Put that away.
  • Wash your face, please.
  • Don’t forget your jacket.
  • Come here.

Those are pretty standard phrases, and honestly, most of them can be modified to not sound like orders. Children likely get a hundred orders a day from us, and the simple fact of the matter is, they don’t need to be ordered. They can be conversations instead.

See how you can easily change those orders into conversations:

  • How about we get dressed now? I’ve got breakfast waiting for you when you’re all dressed and ready to eat. 
  • Do you think we can play with that later? There is so much left to do this morning, let’s finish our to-do list and then we can play.
  • Oh my goodness, you still have breakfast on your face! Why don’t you go rinse off your face before we leave the house? 
  • It’s a little chilly today, let’s grab your jacket just in case you need it. 
  • I have something I wanted to say to you, would you like to come over here and hear it? 

Related: Powerful Cure For Whining And Crying – (Why Do Kids Whine)

what is positive discipline

Positive Phrases To Use Instead Of Stop, No, Don’t

When you’re just getting started with training your mind to avoid the negative words, it can be a challenge and you’re really going to need to think about it.

Thank goodness I have some suggestions for you so you don’t have to think as hard as I once had to when training my brain to be positive!

Let’s remember gentle hands
(“No Hitting” “Stop Fighting”) 

Outside is a good place for being loud
(No Shouting Inside The House!) 

Let’s try to breathe through these yucky feelings
(Calm Down, Stop Crying, No Whining) 

Let’s use kind words, please 
(Don’t say that, Don’t talk like that) 

Shoes are for your feet, remember?
(Stop throwing your shoes around the house) 

Why don’t you ask if you can use it when he is finished
You really want to play with that, don’t you? What could you say to her instead?’
(No fighting!) 

It’s windy outside today, let’s check the weather and see if tomorrow is good to take a walk
(No, we can’t walk today)

 Your toy car will be waiting for you at home when we are all finished our grocery shop 
(No you can’t bring your toy car) 

Let’s play at the park a different day, today we have so many other things we need to get done and I need your help!
(No park today)

 Remember to walk in the house, please
(No running in the house!)

 If we eat all the popsicles in one day, there won’t be any left for tomorrow. And if you have too many, your tummy might get sore! Let’s save some for tomorrow. 
(No more popsicles) 

There are a few more things that we need to do before we can watch a show, let’s go do them now and I’ll put on your favourite show right after. 
(No TV right now) 

Are you feeling frustrated when the boxes fall down? How can you solve this problem?
(Stop crying, they are just boxes)

When you as open-ended questions instead of giving a command, you are giving your child the opportunity to think about something else instead of the issue at hand.

Reminding children what the positive phrases are so that they can use them as well is also important. For instance:

Jonny says: Play cars with me.

You can respond with “We invite instead of order around, right?”

My favourite thing my son does right now at dinner time when there is something on his plate that he doesn’t like the looks of, he says ” This is different!” when I KNOW he means to say “this looks yucky and I don’t want to try it”.

Children learn from us, so if we can use positive language when speaking to them, they will, in turn, use positive language to speak to us back.

Wrapping up: what is positive discipline

To recap, positive parenting creates strong relationships with your children through words of encouragement rather than harsh punishment. Positive parenting creates happier families and helps you raise successful kids.

To use the positive parenting approach you start off with regulating your own reactions followed by treating your children how you wish they would treat themselves.

Saying positive words such as YES more than NO and avoiding time outs can really strengthen your relationship. 

Setting limits with empathy in roughhousing situations rather than yelling at your children to stop beating each other up will likely help your children to listen and comply with your request due to an understanding/reason of the rule.

What do you think about these simple positive parenting techniques? Do you think that this is something that you could implement in your family? Let me know why or why not in the comments, I would love to hear about it!

Related: The Most Powerful Phrases To Comfort A Crying Child

Elizabeth is a mom of 3 and has a passion for helping children reach their human potential. She enjoys helping parents raise confident and healthy kids by explaining how to handle situations using positive and peaceful parenting.

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