How to discipline your child the smart and healthy way.
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How to discipline your child the smart and healthy way.





There comes a time when every parent struggles with how best to discipline their child. Whether dealing with a screaming toddler or an angry teen, it can be hard to control your temper. No parent wants to find themselves in such a situation and the bottom line is that shouting and physical violence never help.
Thankfully, there are other, more effective ways and one of them is positive discipline. We consulted Lucie Cluver, Oxford University professor of Child and Family Social Work and mother of two young boys, to explore how the approach can help parents build positive relationships with their children and teach skills like responsibility, cooperation and self-discipline.


Why positive discipline?

“Parents don't want to shout or hit their kids. We do it because we're stressed and don't see another way,” says Professor Cluver.
The evidence is clear: shouting and hitting simply do not work and can do more harm than good in the long run. Repeated shouting and hitting can even adversely impact a child’s entire life. The continued “toxic stress” it creates can lead to a host of negative outcomes like higher chances of school dropout, depression, drug use, suicide and heart disease.
“It’s like saying: here's this medicine, it's not going to help you and it's going to make you sick,” says Professor Cluver. “When we know something doesn't work, that's a pretty good reason to look for a different approach.”

Rather than punishment and what not to do, the positive discipline approach puts an emphasis on developing a healthy relationship with your child and setting expectations around behaviour. The good news for every parent is it works and here’s how you can start putting it into practice:

1. Plan 1-on-1 time

One-on-one time is important for building any good relationship and even more so with your children. “It can be 20 minutes a day. Or even 5 minutes. You can combine it with something like washing dishes together while you sing a song or chatting while you're hanging out the washing,” says Professor Cluver. “What's really important is that you focus on your child. So, you turn your TV off, you turn your phone off, you get to their level and it's you and them.”


2. Praise the positives

As parents we often focus on our children’s bad behaviour and call it out. Children may read this as a way to get your attention, perpetuating poor conduct rather than putting a stop to it.
Children thrive on praise. It makes them feel loved and special. “Watch out for when they're doing something good and praise them, even if that thing is just playing for five minutes with their sibling,” recommends Professor Cluver. “This can encourage good behaviour and reduce the need for discipline.”


3. Set clear expectations

“Telling your child exactly what you want them to do is much more effective than telling them what not to do,” says Professor Cluver. “When you ask a child to not make a mess, or to be good, they don't necessarily understand what they're required to do.” Clear instructions like “Please pick up all of your toys and put them in the box” set a clear expectation and increase the likelihood that they'll do what you’re asking.
“But it's important to set realistic expectations. Asking them to stay quiet for a whole day may not be as manageable as asking for 10 minutes of quiet time while you have a phone call,” says Professor Cluver. “You know what your child is capable of. But if you ask for the impossible, they are going to fail.”

4. Distract creatively

When your child is being difficult, distracting them with a more positive activity can be a useful strategy says Professor Cluver. “When you distract them towards something else – by changing the topic, introducing a game, leading them into another room, or going for a walk, you can successfully divert their energy towards positive behaviour.”

Timing is also crucial. Distraction is also about spotting when things are about to 

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