Picture this scene: Your child comes running into your room in tears. They’ve done something they know they shouldn’t have, and now they fear they’ll be in trouble. They’re clearly already wracked with guilt, and they’re admitting their misstep to you. How do you respond? What do you do?
North Carolina’s mom Rosie Lamphere recently had to answer that very question when her three daughters put a large hole in the wall while playing roughly. And her response — choosing to remain calm and refrain from offering up punishments — sparked a lot of debate online. But experts think she might be onto something.
Lamphere’s approach to the situation is what’s known as positive discipline, which is based on “the idea that parents and caregivers can reinforce good behaviors and extinguish undesirable behaviors without hurting the child physically or verbally.”
Positive discipline isn’t just about removing yelling and punishments from the parenting equation, though. According to family therapist Ann Dewitt of Oswego, Oregon, it’s also about removing the extrinsic rewards system found in traditional parenting as well. She gives the example of a child who’s continually getting up from the dinner table during a meal. Traditional discipline might use rewards or punishments like promising time on the iPad after dinner or taking away dessert.
Positive discipline doesn’t resort to either of those tactics. Rather, DeWitt says a positive discipline approach would start with trying to figure out why the child has such a hard time remaining seated at the table and then brainstorming solutions that meet everyone’s needs. Perhaps the family goes for a walk before dinner “to get the wiggles out.”
Want to know more about the positive discipline approach? Have a look right here.