Positive Discipline: Limits and Motivation

A new school year has just begun. All of us parents set new goals and challenges on our children. “This course we all have to go to bed earlier,” “you will do your homework before supper,” “teeth-washing will be done immediately after meals.” In turn, our children will face new knowledge, problems, interests, activities, friends, … endless things. Sometimes it is difficult to combine work and school, leisure and homework, time pressure, extracurricular activities, birthday parties, desires and obligations of each other. And all this becomes more complicated when we have more than one child. The only way to save kids from stress is through planning and organizing routines and positive discipline, which involves all family members.

What is Positive Discipline? This type of discipline has nothing to do with control or with punishment, but with teaching, training, building skills and focusing on solutions. It is a constructive discipline, motivating, helpful, caring and respectful.

How to follow this Discipline? Being an emotional parent, loving but firm, eliminating feelings of guilt. You should allow you and your children to make mistakes, make mistakes and try again as many times as necessary. Because from errors is from where you learn most and making mistakes is definitely human. So now think what you would like to improve and let us tackle problems one by one.

Disciplina positiva

Where do I begin? Being CONSISTENT, we have to think and decide what we want to do as parents and carry it out. The main idea of ​​positive discipline, is that it is us, parents, who must learn to change, instead of wanting to change or control others. If we focus on controlling our children probably we will not have in mind the possibility of solving problems by controlling our behavior. So we will have to decide what we want to do at certain times when problems arise or behaviors we want to modify or delete come up.

Once we are clear about what we will do, let us express this clearly to our children and then, when the need arises, we will do it without guilt.


DEEDS, not words.

More than half of the problems with young children disappear if we talk less and act more. Children stop listening to their parents because they speak too much. Instead of asking your children over and over again to be quiet, do not scream, say it once, then you can try to keep quiet and not say anything until you get listened to, if they are fighting over a toy you just remove it without saying anything and put it in a place out of reach. No need to say anything to make them understand that they have to stop fighting and only then will they have their toy back.

It is wrong to ask children to do something that is necessary. Are you coming to dinner? Want to have a bath? The answer is usually “no”. In order to avoid this, it is better to just say: “it is bath time” or “to dinner now.” This will prevent us to enter endless debates and discussions.

A good tip is to avoid talking from room to room, we should be in the same room and talk to each other´s faces, avoiding this way shouting over and over again, which will mean more effort and energy expenditure for you.

So, in short:

  1. Give full attention to the problem.
  2. Acknowledge your feelings to your child and tell him what you would like in your imaginary world (I wish I could give you what you want!).
  3. Tell your child what to do in a clear, simple and straightforward way (do not tell him what NOT to do).
  4. Seek a solution together, with your help. (Do not accept anything you are not willing to comply with).
  5. Explain how you feel and set your limits.
  6. Act accordingly. Fulfill what has been said, being CONSISTENT reduces frustration and conflict with children, is an effective way for children to listen and cooperate.


Many parents wonder if it would not be easier and more effective just to give children a smack on the bottom. Certainly punishment can solve problems momentarily, but hundreds of research projects show that it is not the most effective way to teach positive behaviors. In fact, when these same parents look back and look objectively, realize that they have punished the same behavior over and over again, and achieved no long-term solution to the misconduct.


The importance of establishing ROUTINES.

Besides this discipline it is important to add the establishment of ROUTINES that will be one of the most powerful tools available to parents when setting limits to children. The problem arises when establishing routines is not desired: Do they spend an hour eating while watching TV? Do you often spend two hours every night to tuck your children into bed? Do you have to tell them again and again to do their homework? All these are routines would willingly be changed by others in which all family members showed more collaboration and spontaneity.

Children like routines and respond well to them, the smaller habit gives them more security. It helps them focus on what they need to do on every occasion, to take responsibility for their own behavior and feel empowered, be useful as someone in the family. Once established, the routine is king and parents do not need to run everything continuously, leading to a more relaxed and fluid coexistence.

To establish routines we must first consider the child’s age, for example if we want to build a routine for bedtime with the little ones who cannot yet read, we could get some pictures done for each of the activities: I shower – I put on pajamas, brush my teeth, read a story and go to bed.


If siblings are also involved, make photos or drawings for them, stick them all together on a card in the order that they are doing the activities and place them somewhere in sight of all, to be consulted at any time. If you miss one of the steps to take, you can ask your child what’s next on the table? Collaborate more willingly if it is he who says it.

Finally, apply the routine polite but firm. Refer to the table or list or say what had we agreed?

Generally, you do not need starlets or a points system, it is best to leave that only for specific behaviors or achievements, like learning to tie shoes, dress or undress themselves… Once you know it is unnecessary, because children like to do what is expected of them, it is more effective to show ourselves happy for their achievements and congratulate them for it, it comforts them and motivates them to do it again and again. If we want the whole routine to end at a certain time which we will have previously set, for instance  at nine in the evening, we will agree with them that by this time, if they are finished, we will read them the tale they  choose, if they move from the scheduled time, of course, there will be no reading.



The most important thing is the motivation that we offer children, that they feel valued and believe in themselves and in their ability to do thing right. Notes can be motivating, like “certainly I feel very proud, you’ve worked hard and you have had a very good note” or “be happy, tonight we will have time to read two chapters of your favorite book”.

How we use motivation will promote a more positive family atmosphere, it would also not hurt to use it also with parents, would also serve as a model for their children.

The best way to achieve success is to go step by step so you do not set expectations too high, first stop on an achievement, then on another and thus you will achieve that time when children will jump forward by themselves, benefiting thus all family members.

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