Positive Discipline: In The Moment Self-Regulation

Positive discipline, like most things, takes practice and patience. When a child misbehaves, it’s natural to feel upset. In this post we look at three ways you can self-regulate when a child misbehaves.

By Momentous Institute | Jul 23, 2021
In The Moment Self Regulation

Positive discipline, like most things, takes practice and patience. When a child misbehaves, it’s natural to feel upset.  After all, parents have rules and expectations for a reason and it can be frustrating when a child doesn’t follow them.  Practicing positive discipline means that parents have to do a lot of self-regulating in the moment. Being able to self-regulate when faced with a frustrating situation – like a child coloring on the wall or a teen breaking curfew – will allow you to respond more appropriately and ultimately have better and more effective discipline.

Let’s take a look at three ways you can self-regulate when a child misbehaves.

Assess and Reassure

It’s likely instinctive that you’ll check out the situation and ensure that your child is safe. The important part here is to reassure yourself that your child is safe. When your emotions run high, it can be hard to think clearly. Actually saying to yourself, “It’s okay, they are safe” can help you begin to self-regulate.

Take Deep Breaths

You probably hear this a lot, but that is because breathing actually does help. Taking deep breaths triggers a physiological response in your brain and body that releases dopamine. Dopamine is a feel-good hormone that helps you return to calm and allows you to think more clearly.

Give Yourself a Moment

It is okay to wait a few minutes before you address your child’s behavior. In fact, it is better to take a minute to collect yourself than to launch right into discipline. If you aren’t relatively calm, it will be hard to not speak from anger or frustration. Some parents worry that if the discipline doesn’t happen immediately after the incident, the child won’t make the connection or understand it. But in fact, saying something like, “I need a minute to think about this before I respond” not only gives you the time you need to calm down and think more clearly, but it also models self-regulation for the child. So take a moment for yourself and do what you need to do to make sure that you have your emotions in check before discussing the situation with your child. 

 It is important to remember that the point of positive discipline to teach while maintaining a safe relationship. Self-regulating can be a challenge no matter what age you are. When your emotions are high, it takes effort to get them under control. However, with practice, you’ll be able to quickly self-regulate in the moment when you need to.