Positive Discipline Tips for Every Age


Every age group of children has their own behaviour challenges. 


However, these are some positive discipline ideas that work well with all children:

  • Choose your battles.  If no one is being physically, emotionally or morally hurt by a behaviour, it may not be worth disciplining.

  • Have a few simple, but important rules with set consequences. 

  • Be consistent but flexible.  As a parent you need to be consistent in making sure poor behaviour is dealt with appropriately every time.  However, you also need to be flexible enough to realize that the same discipline solution may not work for every child, every time.

  • Praise your children when they are behaving well.  It is easier to praise and encourage good behaviour then it is to discipline poor behaviour.

  • Be proactive rather then reactive.  For example, know that when your child is tired, it is probably not a good time to go shopping.  Avoid having to discipline in the first place.

  • Use the words “as soon as”.  “As soon as your toys are away, we’ll go to the park”.

  • Certain things are not negotiable.  Let your children know this.  Some examples include bathing, brushing teeth and doing homework.

  • Encourage your children to problem solve.

  • Use humour or games.  “Let’s put on one song and see if we can get everything put away before it is over.”


Remember that the word discipline means to teach.  When you are disciplining your child, your ultimate goal should be to help them learn to self-discipline, so they can follow the rules of society and be happy and successful people.  You should also remember that you are a role model for your child and they learn as much or more, about rules by watching you.



Parents should avoid using the following punishments with their children:


  • Threatening abandonment.  This does not work well, as you will lose your credibility with your child (they will know you are lying) or they will be afraid you really will leave them.

  • Bribery.  It may work in the short-term, but you will end up having to get bigger and better bribes to help your children with their behaviour.


**  It is important to note that sometimes bribery gets confused with behaviour modification.  Behaviour modification is sometimes quite effective for children with children with special needs.  You should consult your child’s health care professional if you are interested in behaviour modification ideas.**


Physical discipline such as spanking, biting, shaking.  Parents often use physical discipline as a last resort, when they are angry or frustrated.  Research shows that physical discipline can lead to unintentional injury, damage to your child’s self-esteem, and increased risk of poor adult outcomes (such as delinquency).




The Mother of all Toddler Books by Ann Douglas, John Wiley and Sons Canada Ltd., Ontario, 2002.

Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser, Broadway Books, New York, 1997.

Canadian Pediatric Society, www.cps.ca



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