How Focusing On the Positive Shifted Our Experience of Discipline

How Focusing On the Positive Shifted Our Experience of Discipline
Over the years of raising six children, my spouse and I have learned a very important aspect of caring for them: positive reinforcement works much better than disciplinary actions. Don't get me wrong, we've had our fair share of having to lay down the law when situations called for such. However, we noticed a profound impact in our children's behavior when we started focusing on the positive aspects over making rules. What are some of the things we put into place? 1. Praises - Whenever a task is completed, we praised the child for a job well done. We try not to dwell on the failures and use them as lessons towards improvement. No matter how small the task was, praising the children not only brought a smile to their faces, but it seemed to reinforce subsequent positive behaviors. We use phrase such as "good job" and "I'm so proud of you." We've found the more often we provide praise for simple things, the more often they occur. For example: It's been much easier having my six and eight-year old girls keep their room cleaned up once we started praising them on how good of a job they did. 2. Never Give Up - We've always utilized a "never give up" attitude in the house. Our 12-year old son has a learning disability when it comes to reading and writing. It got to the point to where he was giving up because he was in constant trouble for not doing homework, getting bad grades and not reading in class. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of his lack of effort, I started praising him for the effort he was showing. Instead of drilling him for not reading a word correctly, I emphasized on the areas that he had excelled at. This has made a profound difference in his ability to read and his grades have been improving overall. When you talk down to someone who is failing a task, they could begin to see it as a hopeless cause and give up. Once I realized what I was doing, we both made improvements in our lifestyle. We now focus on methods that work for my son instead of disciplinary action for failure. 3. Communication - We've found that one of the most profound practices that have made a difference in all of our children is the fact that we communicate with them. We don't talk at them, we talk with them. Communication is a key element in any relationship, and the child-parent interaction is no different. By allowing your child to say what is on his or her mind without a negative reaction can help mend problems and get to the root of misbehavior. My children now come to me with a variety of problems if nothing more than to be a sounding board in order to help them work out their own solution. As my oldest is 15, I am glad that he feels comfortable enough to come to me with personal problems as opposed to inexperienced friends that could lead him down the wrong path. I am far from the perfect parent. I do what I can in order to help raise children that don't subscribe to questionable ethics. As all of my children show a great deal of respect towards us, I feel that my spouse and I have done a decent job thus far. I only hope that we can continue our success as my daughters near their teenage years. _______ Photo credit: Author Bio: Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to @


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