Every parent, at one time or another, is in doubt as to how to educate their child. Indeed, when it is necessary to take care of a crying baby or an angry teenager, it is sometimes very difficult to remain calm. However, no one wants to end up with shouting or violence, which in no way solves the problems.
Fortunately, there are other more effective methods, such as positive discipline. We spoke to Lucie Cluver, an Oxford University professor, family and child welfare specialist and mother of two young boys, to find out how this approach can help parents establish positive relationships with their children and teach them about responsibility, cooperation and self-discipline.
What is positive discipline?
“A priori, no parent wants to shout or hit their children; but it sometimes happens to us when we are stressed and we see no other way out”, explains the professor.
The evidence is clear: yelling and hitting don’t do anything except do more harm than good in the long run. If they are repeated, they generate a permanent “toxic stress” which can have harmful consequences on the rest of the life of the child and expose him to an increased risk of dropping out of school, depression, drug use, suicide and heart disease.
According to Lucie Cluver, it’s the same as prescribing a drug when you know it doesn’t work and makes you sick. “When something doesn’t work, you have to look for another solution,” she adds.
Rather than insisting on punishment and the forbidden, positive discipline emphasizes the development of a healthy parent-child relationship and the establishment of clear rules for behavior. And the good news for all parents is that this method works! Here are some tips to start putting it into practice:
1. Spend one-on-one time with your child
A good relationship requires time, especially when it comes to your children. “20 minutes a day is enough, even five. It is possible to combine this shared time with another activity, such as singing while doing the dishes, for example, or chatting while hanging out the laundry,” continues the teacher. “What matters is to focus on the child. Turn off your TV, turn off your cell phone, get on their level and spend time only with them.”
2. Emphasize the positive
As parents, we often pay more attention to the negative aspects of our children’s behavior, which we make sure to point out to them. The latter, being able to see it as a means of attracting our attention, then tend to perpetuate their bad behavior rather than to put an end to it.
However, children love to be complimented: it makes them feel loved and unique. “Pay attention to when your child does something good and praise them, even if it’s just five minutes spent quietly playing with their sibling. This encourages him to behave well, and thus avoids you to multiply the calls to order”, specifies L. Cluver.
3. Set clear rules
“Telling your child exactly what is expected of him is much more effective than telling him what not to do. When a child is asked not to do stupid things, or to be good, he does not necessarily understand what is expected of him. Conversely, clear instructions, such as “pick up your toys and put them back in the box, please”, tell them exactly what to do and increase the chances that the child will actually do what they need to do. what is asked of him”.
“However, it is important to set reasonable rules. Requiring a child to be quiet for hours on end sounds like a hassle, but it’s possible for the few minutes you’ll need to make a call. We know what our children are capable of, we just have to take it into account and not ask them the impossible,” explains Lucie Cluver.
4. Creatively entertain
“When a child is difficult, offering them a more positive activity can be helpful,” she continues. “By focusing his attention on something else – changing the subject, playing a game, leading him to another room or taking him for a walk, for example – we can get him to redirect his energy towards a positive behavior.
The moment at which we intervene is also essential. To avoid caprice, it is necessary to be attentive to the behavior of the child in order to be able to act as soon as things get worse. Detecting the moment when the child begins to get agitated, to get angry or to covet the same toy as his brother or sister makes it possible to act before the situation degenerates.
5. Punish calmly
Growing up is, in part, about understanding that actions have consequences. Explaining this relationship of cause and effect to a child is a fairly simple process to encourage him to behave better while teaching him the notion of responsibility.
By explaining to your child the consequences to which he exposes himself if he does not behave well, you give him a chance to do well. For example, you can tell him that if he keeps doodling on the walls, you’ll put an end to his playing time. By doing so, you’re warning him while giving him a chance to change his behavior.
If he does not obey, apply the sanction calmly, without showing anger. “And congratulate yourself when you get there, because it’s not easy,” adds Cluver.
If he obeys, on the other hand, congratulate him: thus, you will create a virtuous circle for your child. This method of calm punishment allows children to know what to expect when they misbehave.
On the other hand, positive parenting requires consistency. This is why it is very important to stick to the announced sanctions, which must also be realistic. For example, while confiscating your teenager’s phone for an hour is conceivable, doing so for an entire week may be difficult to sustain.
Bonding with a toddler
Spending one-on-one time with your toddler can be great fun, and costs nothing! “We can play at imitating his facial expressions, banging pots with spoons, or even singing with him. Studies have also shown that playing with your child is beneficial for brain development. says L. Cluver.
Bonding with an older child
Teenagers also seek recognition and like to know that they are appreciated. The time you share with them one-on-one is therefore very important to them. “Even if he doesn’t always show it, a teenager is generally delighted when his parents have fun dancing with him or talking to him about his favorite singer. This makes it possible to create a relationship that makes sense to him, ”says Lucie Cluver.
“And even if it means talking about the expectations you have of him, ask him to participate in the development of certain rules,” she suggests. “Sit around a table and define the rules of the house together. Your child can also help you define the consequences of bad behavior. Participating in this process will help him realize that you understand that he is becoming independent,” she continues.
Advice for parents dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic
The pandemic has arrived with its share of sudden and radical upheavals in family life, throwing parents at the heart of this new situation. Here are some tips that can help you get through these current and future times of crisis more serenely:
1. Take a break
We all know how stressful it is to feel that your child is becoming difficult to handle. In times like these, being present while taking a step back can be very helpful. “Press the ‘pause button’!” Breathe deeply five times in a row, slowly and with concentration, and you will find that you will be more willing to respond to the situation in a more relaxed and thoughtful way. Parents around the world recognize that this simple break is most helpful,” says Cluver.
2. Take time for yourself
Parents often forget to take care of themselves, explains Lucie Cluver, who therefore recommends taking time for yourself, when the children are sleeping for example, to do something that makes you happy and relaxes you. “It is very difficult to do everything correctly as a parent if you never decompress! “.
3. Congratulate yourself!
It’s easy to forget all the good things you do as a parent every day. However, it is important to know how to welcome it. “While brushing your teeth, for example, take the time to think back to a positive thing you did with your children during the day, and be proud of it! “, she advises.
“Isolated or not, you are not alone”, concludes Lucie Cluver. “Millions of parents around the world are doing their best and making mistakes. The important thing is to start over. Together, we will overcome this ordeal”.
> For more advice for parents to deal with Covid 19