Being Kind AND Firm-the Positive Discipline Aproach

Positive Discipline is an educational approach based on Adlerian psychology, that is Kind AND Firm, and puts encouragement at the heart of parenting.

It helps develop:
  • autonomy
  • self-confidence
  • self control
  • co-operation
In Positive Discipline, we use these long term goals to help decide on our response to the daily parenting challenges.

Let me give you an example.

It’s 7:30 on a Monday morning, and my 5 year old hasn't yet got her coat on, let alone her shoes. She's sitting on her seat whining that she's ‘too tired’. We need to leave in 5 minutes to be on time for school. Sound familiar? If I am being ‘kind’ only, then I might go for the ‘easy’ option of zipping up her coat and doing up her shoes (quite possibly at the same time saying ‘okay, I'll do it for you this time, but next time please do this yourself’).

If I go for ‘firm’ then it might look like shouting at her ‘Hurry up, why can't you just do as you're told and get ready for school on time? It’s your fault we are always late’, or ‘If you don't get yourself ready by the time I count to 5, then there's no TV for you tonight.’

Kind AND Firm might involve getting down to her level, making physical contact (connection) by touching her on the shoulder and asking ‘Myriam, what do you need to do to be ready for school on time?’

But my child is unique..

The great thing about Positive Discipline is that it isn't a ‘one size fits all’ approach. One of my favourite activities in the parenting workshops is called ‘Parents helping parents.’ A parent explains one of their recurring challenges, we dig deep to try and understand the belief behind the child's behaviour, and then brainstorm together for possible solutions for the parent to try at home.

I think this ‘belief behind the behaviour’ is key - our child's stimming, whining, repetitive behaviour has a reason, and in Positive Discipline, we look at our own reactions to that behaviour to give us a clue/insight into the reason behind the behaviour. So our child might be searching for attention, for power, to get revenge, or might believe that they are not capable, all of these in order to know that they belong and have significance in our family. Once we address this mistaken belief, then we will see a change in behaviour. So It’s not about modifying behaviour, but about modifying mistaken beliefs. 

What are the results?
  • more communication
  • a long term vision of parenting
  • a peaceful home, with less conflict
  • an understanding about the reasons behind our child's behaviour, and how we can respond, to bring about lasting change
Adler teaches us that all humans have a need for “belonging and significance”, and I think this is key for understanding what motivates me - I want my children to feel like they are significant members of my family and that they belong - they have a role to play, their own contribution to bring. And so, what I found in Positive Discipline, I want to share with others, so that they too can find a space to belong and feel significant by being able to contribute.

Laura is a Positive Discipline certified parent and classroom educator, and works with individuals and families to implement Positive Discipline, both online and face-to-face.
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