How Do I Practice Positive Discipline In Children?

Whether you are a parent or an educator, instilling discipline in children may just be one of the most challenging tasks you are faced with. For the longest time, most of us were made to believe that in order for discipline to be effective, harsh methods such as spanking and yelling are crucial. However, evolving times have proven that there are alternative methods available that are also proven to be more effective such as Positive Discipline.

How to practice Positive Discipline in children? Applying Positive Discipline (PD) requires empathy and a clear communication between you and your children. Having a clear understanding of this method of discipline may help improve your children’s behaviour as well as build a healthier relationship with them.

Discipline plays an important role in children’s growth as it can affect them greatly as they mature in the long run. As mentioned earlier, positive discipline is said to be one effective, healthy way. To give more light on this, I have taken the liberty in gathering further information about the topic at hand. 

What is Positive Discipline?

Positive Discipline was developed by Dr. Jane Nelsen. It is a discipline tool which aims to highlight the good behaviour rather than focusing on the misbehaviour of children. It can be likened to the authoritative parenting style where being kind and firm are essential traits. Having an active, clear communication between you and your child is highly expected when using PD. 

Below are the five criteria for this approach which may hopefully provide further understanding for you:

  1. It is both kind and firm.
  2. It highlights a sense of belonging and significance among children.
  3. It shows long-term effectivity.
  4. It promotes valuable social skills and life skills.
  5. It encourages children to recognise their sense of their own capabilities.

Positive Discipline is both kind and firm.

While PD focuses on giving praise and encouragement, it is also important to note that there should be a striking balance between being kind and being firm towards your children.

Positive Discipline highlights a sense of belonging and significance among children.

Since it promotes a two-way communication wherein your children also get to express how they feel, this approach makes them feel more important and valued. 

Positive Discipline shows long-term effectivity.

In contrast to the punitive manner of disciplining, PD manifests long-term effectivity, which also affects your child’s well-being in the same manner as they grow older. 

Positive Discipline promotes valuable social and life skills.

Critical thinking, communication and problem solving skills are just some of the things your children can develop when they are exposed through this type of discipline. 

Positive Discipline encourages children to recognize their own capabilities.

As your children become aware of the things they can do, it can help them develop ways on how they can use these capabilities which may serve them in the long run.

Ways to Put Positive Discipline into Action

Remain calm and practice logical thinking

Remember that you are dealing with children, and chances are, as an adult, you would know better than they do. Most of the time, children are not fully aware yet of the potential consequences of their misbehaviour. As such, the adults are the ones who would need to adjust to the children’s level of thinking. 

When your child throws a tantrum, it is important to remain calm and not to use harsh words to make him or her stop. Instead, you can try and turn the situation around by trying to be soothing first. If it doesn’t work and your child throws a fit even more, you can try to start sounding firm.

Be mindful of your phrasing and where you are confronting your child

Should you find yourself in the middle of a discipline talk with your child in a public space, make sure that you are speaking in a firm tone and that you are in a private corner. This is to avoid getting attention and making the concerned child feel ashamed. Likewise, it is also highly encouraged to use positive wordings or phrasings. As much as possible, avoid using negative wordings such as ‘don’t’ and ‘no’.

In PD, it is important to remember that we are focusing on the things a child can do, instead of those that they can’t. For instance, in my classroom, whenever my students would get rowdy and would start running around, I tell them to use their walking feet as an alternative to saying, “no running”.  Surprisingly, it gets their attention and they actually slow down to shift back to walking.

Establish open communication with your child

Giving children a voice during one of your talks actually plays to your advantage as a parent or as an educator. This not only helps develop their social and reasoning skills but this also serves as a gateway for them to build a healthier relationship with you. It makes them feel valued and significant when they get a say in things. 

At the same time, it makes you gain their trust, and one of the best ways you can get children to cooperate with you is when they trust you. So instead of brushing them off, encourage them to speak up, and make your exchange a respectable one for both you and your children.

Make sure your child understands what he or she did wrong

One of the most important things in disciplining is making sure that your children are aware of their misbehavior. Reprimanding them without making them understand what they did wrong is ineffective, and might just result for them to repeat the action. At the same time, it might also prompt them to harbor negative feelings toward themselves, to you, or even other people.

General Advice on Practicing Positive Discipline

While Positive Discipline is said to yield more favorable results for long term, it is also important to remember that it takes a lot of patience and practice. Being consistent is key to achieve your desired disciplinary goal for your children. Remember to be open-minded, calm and firm as these traits would be really advantageous when it comes to applying this method of discipline. 


When it comes to disciplining children, it is always important to consider how the methods used will affect them for long-term. Positive Discipline may actually take some time before it takes effect. The key points mentioned earlier on were only a few tips on how to get started. Just remember that one of the most vital goals here is to make sure that your children understand what you are trying to get across to them as you try to correct their misbehavior in the healthiest way possible.

Related Questions

Won’t this Positive Discipline be similar to avoiding direct confrontation with our children? With Positive Discipline, children are supposed to be given voices. Confrontation still ensues in a more respectable manner for both of you and your children. Having a good balance of being kind and being firm can establish to your children that even if you acknowledge how they feel, they can also recognize your authority.

Should I be more punitive when being kind and firm don’t seem to work for some time already? While a punitive disciplinary action may bring about immediate results, it is important to remember how this may affect your children in the long run. You can try coordinating as well with your partner or your children’s other carers to make sure that the discipline being given is consistent. It may be confusing for a child if one parent is using PD, but the other is being more punitive.

Info Box

This article is part of the Child Development series. Check out the guide to become a skillful parent.


DP, Positive discipline


Joe is a biologist and amateur writer.

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