Positive Discipline, Part 1 – Is Your Child’s Behavior Normal?
Posted on February 1, 2016 by CHS
We’ve all been there before – your child throws a tantrum at the store when you won’t let her out of her stroller; she bites another child at school; she pulls out more toys after you’ve told her three times to put them away.
These frustrating behaviors may seem impossible to control, and you’ve accepted that your child is just difficult. But many of these scenarios are preventable when you understand what behaviors are acceptable at certain ages, why they happen, and how to work with your child for better outcomes.
What is Positive Discipline?
Positive discipline helps create more positive behaviors for a happier child, and a happier YOU!
The goal of positive discipline is to teach children safe, socially responsible behavior that promotes self-respect and respect for the feelings and property of others. Positive discipline is not punishment.
Punishment – a penalty imposed in reaction to unacceptable behavior.
Discipline – guidance and teaching that promote positive behavior.
Expectations for “Normal” Behavior
Part of effective discipline is understanding that children think differently than adults, and what to realistically expect at each stage of development.
For example, if an infant cries, they are not misbehaving, as this is an acceptable form of communicating a need. Your caring attention helps them know their needs will be met and keeps them calm. Whereas, if a five-year-old cries rather than uses the words they’ve learned to express needs, it is more likely an instance when positive discipline is needed to change their response.
Similarly, a two-year-old who isn’t sharing a toy is not necessarily misbehaving; rather, they may not yet comprehend that sharing is an expected behavior. This will take time for them to learn. By using positive discipline, you can help a child understand why sharing is important for them and other children.
Understanding age-appropriate expectations for your child can prevent many frustrating moments like these, and help guide them into the more consistent, desired behaviors.
Other Factors to Consider
Behavioral problems may occur for additional reasons, such as the following:
- Entering a new developmental stage
- Biological factors – visual impairments, tactile sensitivities, speech disorders, and developmental delays
- Temperaments – a child’s adaptability and modes of expressing emotion, such as shyness, energy level, ability to focus, level of comfort with new people and places, moodiness, etc.
- Circumstance/Unmet Need – difficult behavior could be because a child is hungry, tired, bored, or sick
The chart below helps explain some age-appropriate typical behaviors for young children. In Part 2 [HAP1] of this blog, we will address how to use positive discipline to help guide children through these behaviors into their next stage of development.
|Infants: Ages 0-11 Months||
|Toddlers: Ages 12-24 Months||
*adapted from Behavioral Expectations & Discipline of Children
Click Here to Read Positive Discipline, Part 2: Practical Tips to Improve a Child’s Challenging Behaviors