Positive Discipline: The ABCs

Practicing positive discipline can be difficult, especially when a child is misbehaving and you need to correct the behavior immediately. The good news is that we have a tool to help in this type of situation - The ABCs.

By Momentous Institute | Jul 29, 2021
Positive Discipline Abcs

One important aspect of positive discipline is the emphasis on choices and consequences rather than punishment.  However, practicing positive discipline can be difficult, especially when a child is misbehaving and you need to correct the behavior immediately. For example, when your child has decided they do not want to leave the park and starts throwing a fit, it seems much easier to resort to threats and consequences. These moments can be frustrating and feel impossible, but the good news is that we have a tool to help in this type of situation – The ABCs.  

The ABCs are an acronym design to help you remember how to address misbehavior in a way that promotes positive discipline and reinforces the idea of choices and consequences. Let’s break it down.

A – Acknowledge the Feeling

All feelings are important and valuable, and feelings should be honored, not diminished. The first step here is to acknowledge how your child is feeling.

Going back to our example, your child is very upset that it is time to leave the park. To acknowledge how they are feeling you might say, “I can tell that you do not want to leave the park, and I understand why. It is fun to play at the park!

Acknowledging how your child is feeling lets them know that you understand what they are feeling and they are still safe and seen. It is important to remember that something as small as leaving the park when they don’t want to can feel like the end of the world to a child and their emotions are very big and very real to them.

B – Limit the Behavior

After you have acknowledged how your child is feeling, it is time to limit the behavior.

To add to our example, you’ve said, “I can tell that you do not want leave the park, and I understand why. It is fun to play at the park. However, we have to get home in time for dinner.”

While all feelings are valuable, not all behaviors are appropriate. Setting firm limits helps children understand that they are entitled to their feelings but must be mindful of their behavior.

C – Provide Choices

The final step is to provide your child with a choice.

Back to our example. You have acknowledged that your child doesn’t want to leave the park and explained why you need to leave the park. Now, you can offer two choices for leaving the park by saying, “You can walk to the car or I can carry you”.

Providing choices gives children a sense of control in the situation. They now have the ability to express what they would like to do within a very tight boundary. Positive discipline takes practice and patience, and you may not get it right one hundred percent of the time, but having tools like the ABCs will help. Being able to use these tools will make practicing positive discipline and maintaining a safe relationship with your child easier and more intuitive.