I use positive discipline with my son and with the children in the day home. While your family may have different practices at home, it's my goal to have these principles carry into home life because I believe they promote independence, self-confidence, integrity, respect, and responsibility in children.

a) I believe that like adults, children have good days and bad days, happy days and sad days. We try to maintain a similar structure to each day (meals, quiet time, etc.) to help reduce anxiety and provide security and familiarity. However, children who are being uncooperative, hurtful, or disruptive will be asked to take some quiet time or alone time or if they would like to talk about how they're feeling with me. Children who are having temper tantrums will be comforted and if necessary, carried to a quiet space away from other children.

b) Children need affection, encouragement, and consistency. This means that I try to encourage positive behaviours (eg. hanging our coats on the hooks, putting the crayons away) as often as possible and make a point of noticing when a child has improved at a task or at remembering how to behave (eg. I noticed that you're sharing the cars very nicely today.) However, it also means that I follow through (99% of the time - I have bad days too!) when I explain a consequence to a child (eg. Throwing your snack on the floor tells me that you're all finished. Next time you'll have to get down and there will be no more snack.)

c)  I encourage independence and like to provide kids with limited, appropriate choices. This gives them the sense that they are competent, autonomous, and have some control over their lives. It also promotes cooperation and communication and cuts down on tantrums, power struggles, and outright refusal. For example, I ask my son if he would rather wear jeans or green pants today, eat toast or cereal, etc. I may ask "would you rather have juice or milk?", "we're going to make a craft now - I wonder who can tell me where the crayons are?" or "It looks like you're frustrated. What happened? What should we do about it?"

d) I believe that children deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. This means that I invite them to help rather than issuing orders and that I explain why the rules are in place (ie. "Hitting our friends hurts their feelings so let's use gentle touches instead." ) This also means that I don't use physical punishment or in any way humiliate or penalize children. This being said, sometimes children (mine especially) need a moment to calm down, take a deep breath, and reflect on what has happened; I give James some "time away" or "a moment" on the stairs to "get himself together" and then allow him to rejoin us whenever he feels ready to play nicely.

e) I emphasize what TO DO rather than what NOT to do. Children who hear constant negative messages begin to believe that they are inherently bad or incompetent and that the world is a negative place. For example, rather than telling the child who is coloring on the table NO or DON'T, I remind them that we CAN color on paper, draw on the chalkboard, or find something else to do if they've had enough coloring. (ie. rather than "don't throw sand!", I prefer "sand stays in the sandbox, please". There are times, however, when STOP, NO, or DON'T must be used; its simply my goal to use positive, teaching words more often.

f) I DO issue one warning to children who are deliberately misbehaving. I remind the child ONCE that their behaviour is  inappropriate, suggest an alternate behaviour, and if necessary physically guide the child in carrying it out. For example, a child who refuses to put on their shoes will be reminded that its time to go outside and that once playground time is over we'll be able to come back to the cars (or coloring, or whatever). I will give the child the count of 1-2-3 to complete the task on their own and then he child will then be picked up, carried to the door, and helped to put their shoes on. Safety is always my first priority; the safety of the group trumps negotiation and positive/teaching moments in almost all cases.


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