Why I love positive discipline

My first interaction of yesterday’s happened something like this:

“good morning M.”


“Not doing well today?”


“can you tell me with your words what is going on?”

M. is a very shy and anxious girl.  She has a very hard time expressing her needs, mostly when she is upset.  This was clearly one of those times.  I almost commented on the fact that her whining annoyed me at 7h am, but since she needs a bit of help learning how to express herself properly, I sucked it up and kept my cool.

She managed to tell me that her pink dress – her absolute favorite dress – was still in the laundry pile.

This is it, the reason I had to deal with a grumpy 6 year old…

Now you have to understand that M is a VERY girly girl.  I have no clue where she gets that from, certainly not from me, but that is what she is, and I embrace that.  But this leads to situations like this where unclean dress that has already been wore 4 times during the same week is cause for major grumpiness…at 7 am

I want this little girl to be a strong self dependent person, someone who can find solutions to life’s problems (whether it is dirty dresses or other things…)  without being a drama queen.  I could have ended this situation quickly by starting a load of laundry, but I doubt that this would have help me reach with goal I have in mind for her.

So the rest of the conversation went something like this:

M., you love this dress really much don’t you?, and you are feeling disappointed that it is not ready to wear this morning”

this basically stopped the whining and borderline crying crisis that was starting to escalate

She nodded

“I know you’d love to have your dress ready anytime you’d like to wear it, but with the amount of laundry that is generated everyday, I just am not able to make sure your favourite dress is always clean and ready.  So with that being said, what can we do to make it happen for you?”

After a few suggestions that were more or less useful, but that I still took time to listen to, she came up with the solution that she could wash herself her clothes whenever she was ready.  I completely agreed with this one.  The tears came to a complete stop.

She then told me she didn’t know how the machine works.  I waited a few seconds, and then she came up with the idea that I could teach her.  I am so happy I waited.  This gave her the time to really think her idea through without outside intervention.

And so we went on with the laundry lesson, she was very enthusiastic about the whole process but moreover, she was taking charge of it, which is so very important for this second born, shy and introverted person.

This entire process definitely took more time then just brushing her off, but she gain so much more from it, and frankly, so did I.

This is what I love about Positive Discipline:  the fact that we can empower our children every day at any moment of the day through life’s difficulties, helping them building their self esteem, and help them have a positive view of themselves.  I feel this is so in tune with Montessori: it sees the child as a strong and capable person, able to have control over their lives.  And I feel this is a responsibility that should be given back to the child, so they have time to practice thinking, negociating, dealing, and being  liable for their actions. This learning has to be done slowly, and at their level of capacities, while being supported by loving adults.  It takes time, but it is like slow food: slow parenting…


If you’d like to read more about positive discipline, I strongly suggest this book: Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen.  There are so many other excellent book on the topic, but this was my first encounter about PD, and I still come back to it often.

What is your favorite book about discipline?  What are your goals for your child as far as discipline goes? I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations.

Why I love positive discipline

6 thoughts on “Why I love positive discipline

  1. I agree that giving a voice to kids’ feelings helps them verbalize what they’re feeling and also shows that you are acknowledging that they are upset (i.e. you aren’t mocking them or blowing them off or telling them they are silly for being sad). Works almost every time with my 2.5yr old. I got the idea from Harvey Karp’s Happiest Toddler on the Block – changed my life!!

  2. I love this! This is so great, and we do the same sort of thing with our 2 year old…and the effects seem to last so much longer!! She knows she’s being heard and she realizes that she can even solve the problem herself. Our big frustration lately has been that she enjoys changing outfits a lot during the day (another girly girl!) and I finally just told her that she was free to do that, but that she’d have to do it by herself and I’d only help her get dressed once in the morning. So now she takes great delight in putting clothes on “by self” and is sooo proud and there’s a lot less frustration all around. So great!

  3. I havent really read anything about discipline, I mostly go with the flow and try to be as good as possible with my children. I believe my parents did well by us, so I have a good inspiration there even if there are things which I do differently.
    Anyway, I hope I can be as patient as you when my daughter comes to that age ^^

  4. bruixa says:

    Children: The Challenge : The Classic Work on Improving Parent-Child Relations–Intelligent, Humane & Eminently Practical- Rudolf Dreikurs (Author), Vicki Stolz (Author). This is THE original positive discipline book. Jane Nelsen just updated everything here. It’s amazing because even though it was written in the 60’s, most of it applies to today’s world.

  5. pilar says:

    oh this is just such a beautiful story. thankyou for showing how parenting can be.

    it is so difficult to step away from the unproductive stereotypes in the media, it is just so beautiful to listen to such a simple but so very powerful story. thankyou.

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