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Reasons to Focus on Positive Discipline

Words Matter

It matters what words we use because words have power to change the way a child thinks and feels about himself. Words that may not seem important to a parent or teacher may be the defining moment of a child’s life.

Building Connection is Essential

We want to spend our energy building a positive bond and relationship with the child. By focusing on the positive, we put our energy into connecting with a child instead of spending energy reconnecting. We want to stay connected because connection helps children to respect themselves.

Respect is Foundational

When you treat children with respect, it helps them respect themselves. When you form a relationship of trust, you show your child you believe in them, and then they come to believe in themselves. If you respect a child, they will return the favor.

Children Repeat the Behaviors that Work

Children repeat the behaviors that work and eliminate the behaviors that don’t work. We need to make sure that children get our attention when they behave appropriately in positive ways.

Our Goal is to Empower Children

We want to empower children and convince them that they have the power to make good choices so that they will come to make choices for themselves that will be in their own best interest. We want to give children the skills that teach them how to redirect their own behavior and gain confidence that they can make the right choices.

Five Reasons Not to Punish Children

#1. Punishment Blocks the Learning Process

A child who is spanked or hit is no longer in a frame of mind to learn. He has to do something with the anger which will either be turned inward against himself or outward into retaliation, both which are damaging. Harsh discipline fails to teach appropriate behavior. When we use harsh discipline, we pass up the teachable moment, which is the window of opportunity for helping children reflect on their reactions and learn a better way.

#2. The Adult is Modeling Aggression

When you spank or hit a child, you become a role model for aggression and the child thinks it is OK to hit or retaliate when they are angry. You are giving them license to hit. However, when we provide a connection and bond with children, they will want to please us, imitate us, to be like us. When we speak respectfully and show children kindness, they will return the kindness and respect to us.

#3. The Memory Lasts a Lifetime

"Smacking a child to quiet him will startle him and shame him into either tears or silence. Whatever the momentary gain for the disciplinarian, for the child, the lesson in shame and anger is lasting." (Drs. Kindlon and Thompson, Ph.D. authors of Raising Cain – Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys)

#4. The Goal of Discipline is Self-Discipline

Instead of fostering the development of internal controls, harsh discipline reinforces the idea that discipline comes from external forces. Instead of leading a child towards better decision- making, it prevents him from internalizing strong values and learning the lessons of empathy and respect that lead to responsible, moral behavior and emotional accountability.

#5. It is Against the Law

Hitting anyone other than a child is called "assault and battery" and is punishable by law.

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