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Published on April 19, 2017

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Positive parenting pays off

Children sometimes behave in challenging or confusing ways. You may wonder, "Why does he act out at school? Why does she argue about getting dressed every day?" or "Why does he pick on his brother?"

Reacting out of frustration or anger to your child's behavior will not help situations like these. In fact, it can lead to yelling, spanking or other unintended outcomes. Children learn best through positive guidance and positive discipline methods.

Lacie Ketelhut

"Research tells us that hitting a child, as a form of punishment, hurts them physically and emotionally in ways that can have negative long-term consequences," explains Lacie Ketelhut, program coordinator of the Center for Effective Discipline at Gundersen Health System.

It's one of the reasons Gundersen has implemented policies and designated each of its locations as a No Hit Zone: An environment that supports a culture of safety and health where no child or adult shall hit another child or adult. Staff also received training on how to de-escalate and educate others when problem behaviors are observed.

"Children need to learn skills to manage strong emotions, solve problems and interact with people around them. When you use positive guidance in response to challenging behavior, you are not only teaching your children the acceptable behavior but building lifelong social and emotional skills," Lacie explains.

Here are five helpful tips to nurture healthy and positive child development:

  1. Establish a supportive and trusting relationship. Children need to feel loved, safe and secure. Spend quality one-on-one time with your child. Your child will learn that he or she can get your attention in a positive way without acting out.
  2. Understand child development. Have realistic expectations that appropriately match your child's age and developmental level. Remember, kids develop at various rates.
  3. Use positive methods of child guidance. Examples include setting limits, active ignoring, giving choices, quiet time, timeouts, delay of earned privileges and use of natural consequences that fit the situation and age of your child.
  4. Provide boundaries and consistency. Consistent routines and rules help kids learn what behaviors are expected of them. Whenever possible, have regular times for meals, studying and bedtime.
  5. Model positive behaviors. Children learn by watching and imitating adults. Use nonviolent ways to resolve conflicts. Help your children learn to recognize and respond to their emotions.

Center for Effective Discipline, a program of Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center, offers additional resources on positive discipline at gundersenhealth.org/ced. To learn more about implementing a No Hit Zone in your home or workplace, go to thisisanohitzone.com.