Positive Discipline in the Early Years

Positive Discipline is based on the Adlerian Psychology, this is the work of Alfred Adler and his colleague Rudolf Dreikurs.  Adler believed that human behaviour is motivated by a need of belonging (connection) and worth (significance).

Discipline is designed to help children learn from what they have done. In fact, the root of education is educarè  which means to draw forth.

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The early years with children has to do with their emotional, physical and cognitive development as well as age-appropriate behaviours more than their misbehaviours. In a child’s early years, birth to age 3-5, a little one needs nonpunitive discipline which enhances their whole development and creates a connection.

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What does this mean?! Well, discipline with young children is more about deciding what you, as a parent/caregiver, will do and then following through.  This is the concept of being kind AND firm as Positive Discipline is neither permissive or punitive.

During the first year of life, a child depends on you for everything. However, quickly a child will find their voice and personality and will start to assert themselves as being a separate person. This is a great time to find ways to engage your child in decisions (always age-appropriate!). Even parents of older babies and toddlers can start using the Positive Discipline tool of “Curiosity questions”. For example: when unpacking groceries you can ask a baby, “where do we put your diapers?”, or during bedtime routine inquire, “Which book do you want to read?”.

Another Positive Discipline Tool that can be introduced early in life is offering Acceptable Choices. Every person has an internal locus of power and having choices provides a child a sense of power (autonomy): they have the power to choose one possibility or another. A lot of parents struggle with toys and tidiness therefore, we will use this as an example of acceptable choices for a child aged 2-5 (who based on child development will likely need help or guidance). We can provide acceptable choices, “I will help you clean up your toys!  Which ones do you want me to clean up and which ones do you want to clean up?”. The choices, of course, have to be what you as the parent/caregiver can live with! This point goes back to Positive Discipline being kind AND firm!  Decide what you will do and then follow through!

Resources used for this blog: Positive Discipline A-Z and Positive Discipline: the First Three Years

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