Positive discipline is not about punishment, rather, it is about helping your child understand how to fit into the world in a thoughtful, healthy, and productive way.
Here are some tips on how to promote positive behaviour.
Talk With Your Toddler
- Get your toddler’s attention and make eye contact before you speak.
- Use a gentle touch.
- Keep your words clear, simple and direct. Saying, “Please put that down” is more direct than, “Cut it out.”
- Make only one request at a time. Your toddler cannot react to two or three requests at the same time.
- Use positive communication. Try to tell your toddler what to do instead of what not to do. Saying, “Please ride on the sidewalk ” is more positive than, “Don’t ride on the street.”
- For every “No,” try to offer two reasonable choices. “No, that paper is for Daddy. But you can play with this book or this toy.”
- Use “please” and “thank you” whenever you can.
Provide a Safe and Stimulating Environment
- Supervise your toddler.
- Childproof your home.
- Provide a range of interesting toys and activities.
- Organize your day around regular naps and mealtimes.
- Keep to bedtime routines.
- Balance active and quiet times.
- Tell your toddler about any changes in routine that will be happening.
- Pay attention to your toddler, even if you're busy.
Set Good Examples
- Be calm and patient.
- Model the behaviour you want to see in your toddler (such as sharing or taking turns).
- Gently remind your toddler about limits - he has a short attention span and can quickly forget what you’ve said.
- Avoid reacting in angry or defensive ways.
Praise Good Behaviour
- "Catch" your toddler behaving well and tell her right away: "I really like the way you are playing gently with your sister."
- Tell your toddler what you like about her behaviour. (Examples: "Thank you for using your quiet voice at Grandma’s house," or "I really like that you are holding my hand while we cross the street.")
Focus on Cooperation, Not Control
- Offer appropriate choices, usually no more than two.
- Show your toddler how to cooperate: "I will read you a story after you’ve picked up the blocks."
- Talk about conflicts: "I can see that you are angry at Tim for taking the ball."
- Offer solutions to conflict: "Maybe you can let Tim have a turn and then he'll give you a turn."
For more information about positive discipline and challenging behaviours, see pages 104-108 of Toddler’s First Steps: A Best Chance Guide to Parenting Your 6 to 36 Month Old Child.
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