Positive discipline is a discipline model that opposes negative discipline which involves spanking and other negative elements in disciplining kids.

Positive discipline is based on the understanding that a kid will develop a conscience guided by his or her own internal discipline and empathy for others when he or she is treated respectfully within age-appropriate, loving boundaries. It is a manner of guiding and teaching kids by letting them recognize on what are the acceptable behaviors in a way that is firm, yet kind.

By applying this discipline model, parents will educate their kids on the right behaviors as well as making them understand the effects of their behavior.

With a solid foundation of trust, positive discipline integrates considerate and compassionate strategies will gradually strengthen the ties between parents and kids. It is rooted in a trusting, loving and secure relationship between parents and their kids.

Meanwhile, a negative discipline that may involve angry, destructive, or violent responses to inappropriate behavior weakens the ties.

The concept behind Positive Discipline is that there are no bad kids, instead only good and bad behaviors. Parents can educate and reinforce the good behaviors while discouraging the bad behaviors without hurting your kids verbally or even worse physically.

Watch this video now to find how the Smolinskis discipline their kids with this brilliant discipline model!

via ResearchGate: Children with harsh parents were more influenced by the opinion of their peers.

In a study that tracked 1,500 students beginning in seventh grade, researchers found that those who were parented harshly were more likely by ninth grade to place more importance on their peer group than other responsibilities, including obeying their parents’ rules. This meant they were more likely to engage in risky behaviors in eleventh grade, with males seeing greater delinquency like hitting and stealing, and females more frequent early sexual behavior.

We spoke to lead author Rochelle F Hentges about the study.

ResearchGate: What motivated this study?

Rochelle Hentges: We wanted to better understand how and why some children leave education early, either by dropping out of high school or not completing college. Prior research has indicated that children growing up in harsh or adverse environments are more likely to drop out. But we’re still not sure what it is about these environments that affect educational achievement. Evolutionary theories have suggested that, because harsh environments can make survival uncertain, individuals growing up in harsh environments are primed to try and capitalize on immediate rewards rather than focusing on long-term goals or outcomes. For example, research has found that children growing up in harsh or unstable environments are more likely to take a smaller, but immediate reward (two M&Ms) instead of waiting to get a larger reward (five M&Ms). Many of the messages that children get about why education is important are related to long-term goals, like getting into a good college or getting a better-paying job. I hypothesized, based on this evolutionary theory, that children growing up in environments with harsh parenting would be less likely to complete high school or go to college.

RG: What do you consider to be harsh parenting?

Hentges: In our study, harsh parenting was considered to be acts of verbal or physical aggression, such as yelling, name-calling, shoving, or threatening the child.

RG: What were the results of your study?

Hentges: We found that harsh parenting in seventh grade (around age 12-13) predicted an extreme peer orientation in eighth grade. An extreme peer orientation means that the child is more influenced by what their peers think or want instead of their parents. For example, they’re more likely to blow off doing homework if a friend calls and wants them to hang-out and they’re more likely to disobey parents’ rules if it means going along with what their friends want to do. This extreme peer orientation predicted higher delinquency for both boys and girls and early sexual behavior for girls in eleventh grade. For boys, higher delinquency predicted lower educational attainment at age 21, while for girls it was early sexual behavior that predicted lower educational attainment. When we ran our analyses, we controlled for prior standardized test scores, GPA, and students’ beliefs about how important school was to them. We also controlled for other potential contextual factors that might have influenced educational attainment, like race, family income, and the parents’ education level.

RG: How did you conduct the study?

Hentges: We used a pre-existing dataset from the Maryland Adolescent Development in Context Study that had collected information from close to 1,500 students beginning in seventh grade. The sample was collected in a large county in Maryland near Washington, D.C. and was diverse in terms of race, income, and geographical location (urban, rural, and suburban).

RG: How does the peer relationships of children with harsh parenting differ to those without?

Hentges: We used a continuous scale of harsh parenting that ranged from very little to a lot. We found that children who were exposed to higher levels of harsh parenting were more likely to say that it was okay to break their parents’ rules in order to keep their friends and that they spent more time on activities with friends instead of other things they should be doing, like homework or chores. So children with harsher parents may be more susceptible to peer pressure.

RG: What do you think schools can do to increase the engagement of these students?

Hentges: Something that is unique about evolutionary life history theory is that it tries to explain why children in harsh environments would focus on immediate rewards instead of long-term goals. If the future is uncertain, there is a certain adaptive value to capitalizing on what’s in front of you rather than putting a lot of resources toward something that might not pay off. So telling students that education is important for their long-term success may motivate children growing up in stable environments with warm, supportive parents. But for other children, this message may not mean as much because they’re focused on surviving and getting through their day-to-day life. One thing that schools may be able to do to increase engagement is to make education more rewarding and fulfilling in the short-term. For example, students often report that they enjoy working with and learning from peers and hands-on projects or experiences, like going to museums and zoos. Importantly, these sorts of classroom activities tend to decrease from elementary to high school. But if we can make school more enjoyable in the short-term, we may be able to keep students engaged in education for longer.

“Good job!” “Say sorry.” “Share.” “Do you want a time out?” Do these sound familiar to you? If so, you have probably picked up the “Parentspeak” without yourself even noticing it.

We might have started the “Parentspeak” with a good intention but little do we realise what it does to our kids.

According to Jennifer Lehr from WSJ, “Parentspeak” demands of compliance from kids rather than helping parents with their understanding on their kids’ feelings.

Check out this video now to find how you can speak to understand your kids’ feelings instead of giving them parents’ instructions to comply to!

Mommy’s note:

Note to myself, to give more positive attention to my kids in order to promote positive behavior.

Your kids want attention all the time. How do you know if you are giving them the right amount of attention? How sure are you if you are giving them the right kind of attention?

In this video, Jason Kreidman explains the 3 types of attention in parenting psychology:

  1. The positive attention which is used to rewards our kids
  2. The negative attention when they misbehave
  3. No attention when we ignore them

The key is to cut down on the negative attention given to your kids. Giving kids positive attention will reinforce the positive behavior.

Watch this video now to learn how could you raise well-behaved kids using attention!

Via Psychology Today: When to Push a Child and When Not to

We all want the best for our kids, and these days there is a growing chorus of voices telling us that this means pushing them to work harder. Just about every aspect of a child or teen’s life these days is a competition. But to excel at school, sports, the arts, spelling, debating, social media, even texting (yes, there is a US National Texting Competition), means going that little bit further than others are prepared to go.

And the difficult question – for parents and teachers alike – is knowing when it’s good for a child to be pushed and when it’s not.

Previous generations had a ready answer this question: It’s always good. The assumption was that children need to learn how to persevere if they are going to succeed in life, and no one ever said this was going to be easy. The problem, however, is that we are seeing too many kids these days that are falling by the wayside: struggling with anxiety, poor concentration, or health issues, shying away from challenges, choosing to be endlessly entertained. Is this telling us that they haven’t been pushed hard enough, or that they’ve already been pushed too hard? This is such a difficult question for parents.

With a son who grew up playing small-town hockey, I’ve met my share of hockey parents. So many of them were desperate for their child to play on a premier team. So many disappointed that their child lacked the perseverance shown by the kids who made those teams. And so many who saw their child’s poor performance as due to a lack of effort. So, they set out to push their kids to try harder. And some of them – quite a few of them – got a little carried away.

I’ve seen parents tear a strip out of their child the moment he came off the ice, and sometimes, even while he was still on. I’ve seen parents offer extravagant “rewards” to motivate their child – or for that matter, the coach. I’ve seen parents stuffing their child with candy before tryouts. And I’ve seen far too many talented young players quit the second they were old enough to have a say. But this isn’t about the perils of minor hockey, or any of the other countless areas where this is happening today (everywhere)? This is about reframing perseverance: about why we immediately jump to the conclusion that we’re dealing with is a motivation problem – and the consequences of such a mindset (reframing).

At the end of the day, hockey, like all extracurricular activities, is about a child’s wellbeing in all five of our Self-Reg domains: physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and prosocial. Hard as it is for parents to admit, there are times when the activity is not that good for the child; maybe the reverse. Times when a child’s enjoyment of the game or activity languishes; when other aspects of the child’s life – school, health, social life, mood – begin to suffer.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not questioning the benefits of competition. I love what hockey has done for our son – the way it has instilled self-discipline and self-confidence. And the benefits of being on a team are incalculable. If anything, my question is how we might assist our children to realize – and when needs be, manage – their dreams. But what is far more important is to enjoy the process, and for that matter, the dream itself, should it actually come to pass. And this is where reframing comes in: understanding when perseverance turns into something vastly different, with far from salutary effects.

The difference here is between perseverance and compulsion. In terms of the “Triune Brain” metaphor, perseverance is what is referred to in Self-Reg as “Blue Brain” behaviour. Perseverance is fueled by interest and desire: we press on, despite the unpleasant feelings – fatigue, boredom, discomfort, failure – because we so badly want the goal. The key is: we choose to keep going, despite the difficulties and the setbacks. Compulsion is a Red Brain phenomenon: i.e., behaviour driven by a sub-cortical “expectation of reward.”

For neuroscientists, the latter is a function of three major factors: the positive benefits associated with a “reward” (e.g., a burst of energy, feeling soothed); incentive salience (the size of the anticipated reward); and the positive sensation produced by the “seeking” itself (i.e., by dopamine, which produces a pleasant, “energizing” sensation). In the case of compulsion, we do not choose to keep going: a “limbic prime” forces us to do so, and it dulls our awareness of the costs.

Hunger and thirst are examples of innate limbic primes: they direct behaviour so as to keep homeostatic systems running within a functional range. The processes driving us to obtain the “reward” (e.g., slake our thirst) are regulated by the hypothalamus. Someone crawling in the desert in search of water will keep going until they collapse. A “reward” in this sense is not something that one earns by one’s efforts but rather, something that causes us to keep going.

So many of the limbic primes that drive a child or teen are acquired: induced by parents, peers, educators, coaches, culture, advertisers! But no matter how much we exhort them every child reaches a point where they say: Enough! Some much earlier than others. The kid, for example, who stops skating during practice before all the others, and insists “I don’t care” if rebuked by the coach. All too often, the problem isn’t that the child isn’t motivated enough, but that he has experienced a neural shift from Blue Brain to Red Brain. Such a child isn’t guilty of not trying; his actions are constrained by limbic braking.

Limbic brakes kick in when glucose levels in the bloodstream dip below a certain threshold. In the hockey example, this might happen because of the energy the child has expended trying not to fall, stop, turn, avoid other players, keep the puck on her stick. Maybe there are other aspects of the game that she finds stressful: the fear of appearing foolish; trying to remember the rules; being yelled at by her parents in the stands.

All of these stresses burn energy: that, after all, is the defining feature of “stress.” Just wearing the equipment can be a big stress for some kids. (Think of Richard Branson’s crusade to get men to carry round a pair of scissors to cut off their neckties.) And, of course, the child might not be feeling well that day; or she might have arrived at the game late and already over-stressed; or she’s worried that she’s going to be kicked off the team.

Limbic braking is completely different from laziness or indolence. The latter are Blue Brain phenomena: i.e., the child is fully capable of going further but opts instead to quit. But in the case of limbic braking the hypothalamus – which oversees glucose levels in the bloodstream – sends an order to Cease and Desist. Stop skating! Stop working on the math problem! Stop practicing piano! This is entirely non-conscious: a primitive, sub-cortical mechanism designed to prevent excessive wear and tear. But then, limbic brakes can be over-ridden. The question is: ‘How?’ And more to the point: ‘What is the cost of doing so?’

The only way to override limbic brakes is with a sudden input of energy. This is the reason why, in popular advertising, an exhausted athlete is shown suddenly reviving with a glucose-laden drink. But sans drink in hand, the “energy kick” comes from us. We may try to “up-regulate” the child: i.e., use our own energy to give the child the needed boost. Or maybe we resort to fear or anger; for going into fight-or-flight provides the burst of energy needed to override the limbic brakes, while at the same time muting the PFC systems that subserve self-awareness.

This is the reason why we shout or threaten a child or teen when they want to give up (I’ve done it myself on occasion when my own passions were running a little too high). We do so in the hope that the child will internalize this external “motivation.” But what we are really doing is priming the child’s limbic system: i.e., programming the child to resort to fear or anger on his own to override his limbic brakes.

Children can be trained to override their limbic brakes – or, at least, some of them can, some of the time. There are “energy reserves” that serve this purpose. (Hence the rise in cortisol, which unlocks the energy contained in fat cells.) The effect of overriding limbic brakes is comparable to driving a car when the engine has gone into the red zone. The occasional redlining doesn’t harm a motor. But do this too much or go well past the rev limiter and this can cause damage.

The same is true for pushing children to override their limbic brakes too hard or too often. Do it judiciously and it might help build the child’s “stress tolerance.” Overdoing it, however, has quite a different effect.

The danger here is not only that the parasympathetic nervous system is strained and recovery is compromised, but that the child will come to have strong negative associations with the activity in question. Read through the memoirs of individuals who have succeeded because they were compelled (first by others and then by themselves) and what comes through loud and clear is how much they came to hate the activity in which they ultimately excelled. (The beginning of Andre Agassi’s autobiography, Open, is a striking case in point [Agassi].) This is an aspect of the debate over perseverance that rarely gets mentioned, but it should.

The point here, however, is not that parents are confronted with a difficult decision in regards to their child’s future: viz., success-at-a-cost versus failure-at-a-different-cost. The whole point of reframing perseverance is that it presents us with a very different dichotomy: viz., between compulsion and flow [Flow]. Where compulsion is a Red Brain phenomenon, flow is Blue Brain.

Where compulsion is exhausting, flow is energizing. The former is dogged, the latter creative. The former leaves you shattered and disillusioned, the latter, calm and inspired.

The concept of flow is tied to the concepts of absorption, euphoria, and most important of all, effortlessness. What it is not tied to is success. Both compulsion and flow involve a loss of any sense of space and time; both are tied to a dissociation of sorts. But the motivation for flow comes, not from the lure of status or prestige, but the joy of the experience itself. One does not strive for flow in order to obtain a reward; flow is its own reward. And there is a flow to flow itself, which is where Self-Reg comes in.

The great American biopsychologist Robert Thayer discovered that motivation naturally varies according to one’s energy and tension level [Thayer]). We are most motivated to obtain a goal when our energy is high and tension is low (HE/LT); least motivated when energy is low and tension is high (LE/HT). What this means is that we try harder, for longer, and feel more positive when we’re in HE/LT. In which case, the better we can help children recognize when and why they are slipping into LE/HT, and what they need to do to restore, the better they can return to a flow state.

One of the finer aspects of parenting and teaching is knowing when you’re dealing with a child who needs encouragement and when it’s a case of limbic braking: i.e., a situation in which gentle yet firm support is not going to keep the child going, and pushing too hard is going to send them into Red Brain.

But where Self-Reg is especially important is not just in recognizing limbic braking for what it is, but helping us to recognize the onset of limbic braking before it occurs: e.g., in a child’s voice, eyes, posture, movement. And eventually, helping the child or teen learn how to do the same.

The upshot of this reframing is that we need to distinguish between what we want for kids and what we’re prepared to inflict on them. Or what is worse still, what we seek to prime kids to inflict on themselves. That must never be our goal as parents or educators. Our goal should be that children love hockey at the end of the season as much as at the beginning. Constantly pushing them to override their limbic brakes – because of the antiquated and misguided assumption that this builds character – is the surest way there is to prevent them from experiencing flow in whatever captures their interest and imagination.

Via Becoming Unbusy: 10 Benefits Kids Gain From An UnBusy Life

Take life at the pace that suits you & your family.

I sit with feet stretched out in front of me, bark chips in my sandals and the sound of playful children in my ears.

It’s been twenty minutes since school got out, and already it’s only my three kids and a few others left on the playground.

When a public park sits right in between your elementary school and the parking lot, you have a prime opportunity for people watching. Five days a week.

Every day I watch as parents gently prod their children past the park, their kids throwing longing looks over their shoulders. (Swings must look exhilarating when you’re five years old and headed for a booster seat in a dark SUV.)

Plenty of parents let their kids burn off some energy before heading on, and some stay long enough for their kids to get immersed in a game of tag while they chat with fellow parents.

That said, not many of them linger past the half-hour mark; they have places to go.

But a lot of days, I stay, my feet planted in the bark chips as I push a soaring child on the swings or cheer another one across the monkey bars.

We have time to linger. We’ve got no reason to hurry.

Maybe you’re the same kind of parent, soaking in the sun at a park five states away from me. Or maybe you tend to keep a full schedule and are curious about doing life and parenthood another way.

I believe everyone should take life at the pace that suits them, and the pace that happens to suit my family is a slow, purposeful one. If you too would like to embrace an un-hurried life, here are ten benefits I’ve noticed in my own kids from living at the pace we enjoy.

10 Benefits Kids Gain from an UnBusy Life

1. They have more time for unstructured play, more time to tinker.

Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. — Fred Rogers

2. They spend more time in nature than busy kids.

I want my children to know nature—to feel the crunch of dried pine needles under their shoes, to take in the view from the upper branches of a tree—so that they can grow to love it. For us, that simply means making the time to get outdoors.

3. They have time to follow their curiosity.

4. They are less entitled.

I’ll be the first to tell you that our family fights entitlement in other places; I think all parents do. But my kids don’t expect to be signed up for the next sports season before the current one even ends. Expensive art classes or private music lessons aren’t on their radar. In this sense, their entitlement meter is blessedly low.

5. They have less agitated parents.

When we rush our children from one activity to the next, we sacrifice the ability to be in the moment. Worry and agitation build. A slower lifestyle often translates to calmer parents and calmer kids, and I think calm and content parents is one of the greatest gifts we can give our families.

6. They sleep better.

A brain that is firing from one thing to another has a harder time settling into deep sleep. Children included.

7. They’re familiar with boredom.

You’ve seen it, right? Boredom carves out this amazing space where kids can draw on their own resources and get creative with their time. Plus, kids who are familiar with boredom often develop rich inner lives.

And someday, they will be excellent at waiting to grab their luggage and de-plane.

8. They’re free for playdates, any time.

How rare is that these days?

9. They don’t feel rushed to grow up.

With fewer outside influences in their lives, kids can remain kids just a bit longer.

10. They come to value simple living.

Someday in the not-too-distant future, my kids may start asking for more activities, more lessons, more museum trips, more social engagements. And when they do, I’ll follow their lead—but with caution. I know myself and my kids, and I’m more than willing to set up boundaries that allow us plenty of downtime, plenty of white space for our souls.

My hope is that when they’re grown, they’ll remember dozens of afternoons at the park across the street and hundreds of evenings with toy lightsabers, pink scooters, and neighborhood friends out on our front lawn.

They’ll remember complaining to their mom about being bored and then finally giving up and getting lost in the world of Harry Potter on the top bunk.

They’ll know that their mom did her best to find a pace that suited her—and them.

And they’ll build lives of their own, with an awareness that pace and contentedness go hand in hand.