Children who are more aware of their actions Children who are more aware of their actions

Respect, interacting with your child and using appropriate language help give children guidelines to know how to make their own decisions.

Advisor Paula Andrea Jaramillo Escobar, family educator in positive discipline

Positive discipline is neither permissive nor repressive: it is empathetic, assertive, accepts “no” as a response and says “yes” when necessary. “Positive discipline means to include children in parents’ conversations and household decisions. It means not distrusting children, assessing their acts and giving them the guidelines they need to do things properly,” explains Paula Andrea Jaramillo Escobar, family educator in positive discipline.

According to Jane Nelsen, co-founder of this paradigm, the principles of positive discipline are to be kind and firm at the same time, which is effective in the long-term to teach children life skills such as self-discipline, responsibility, conflict resolution and respect for others. In short, it encourages children to discover their own abilities. To ascribe to this model, it is very important to eliminate traditional concepts in education about punishment: giving a spanking and phrases like, “If you don’t eat, I won’t take you to your soccer practice.” The idea is to use communication, support and to change your paradigm in order to contribute to the development of human beings that are freer and more aware of their decisions.

“This should not be confused with letting children do what they want. This is actually about a combination of affection and discipline. If I love my child, I must give them a sort of invisible guidance from the moment they are born and let them go little by little as they learn the norms for dealing with the world,” adds Jaramillo Escobar.

As parents, it is therefore key to distance yourself from your aspirations and from thinking that the child should act in a certain way. Understand that your little one “is a work in progress” that responds to stimuli and reacts in a way that is typical for their age. For example, at age two, your child may throw tantrums when they want something because they still do not have the verbal control to say, “I want this.” In such cases, addressing your child once they have calmed down will help them understand that there are other ways to achieve things. This is an opportunity to introject norms and rules in children so they can coexist with others, understand what is right and wrong, develop their logic to understand the positive and negative consequences of their acts, and understand that being reprimanded  is an opportunity to grow in all aspects of life.

Last, it is important to emphasize that in order for your child to find a philosophy there that matches what they learn at home, as caregivers, it is important to find a school that adapts to your family’s needs. “Teachers and classmates, however, may not be in alignment with our methodology for raising our child. So it is important to make sure that what we teach them promotes the values, character and autonomy that allows them to identify differences and deal with them in society with sound arguments, in respectful manner and with a solid personality,” Paula Andrea Jaramillo concludes. As they develop, children learn from what they see at home, which is why the examples they follow should be consistent.

For Jane Nelsen, punishment only stops bad behavior for a short period of time, but does not work in the long term since it does not teach the skills necessary to solve problems and rely on one’s own abilities. Studies also show that children have an easier time solving problems when they feel good about themselves.

What you need to use positive discipline:

  • Love: Demonstrating love in a consistent way allows children to learn to believe in themselves.
  • Confidence: Gives children the certainty that they can tell their parents what happens to them.
  • Support: Reinforces self-esteem and motivates children to make decisions, to go to you when they have concerns and to constantly learn new things.
  • “Special” time: Frequently setting aside time to talk fosters the logical and natural development of children’s actions.
  • Respect: Speak with affection and restraint in a clear and forceful way to give explanations and clues to talk and address others with respect.

Techniques to apply this model

  • When you put your child to bed, ask them to share their “saddest” and “happiest” moments of their day with you. Then, tell them yours. You will be surprised at what you learn.
  • Give serious chores to children at home so they feel a sense of commitment and personal responsibility.
  • Take the time to teach. Make sure they understand what it means to “clean the kitchen.” For them, this may just mean to put the dishes in the dishwasher.
  • Teach them that mistakes are learning opportunities.
  • Make sure love and respect are part of the messages you convey. Start with, “You are important to me. I’m worried about the situation you experienced. Would you work with me to find a solution?

See also: Reading: More than child’s play