I used to love watching Super Nanny -even before I had a child. Scratch that, I loved watching it the most before I had Raeca. It was so easy to watch and see where the parents were going wrong and tell myself that I could do a much better job.

And then you have a kid and all that knowledge goes out the window and you realize you really don’t know the first thing about parenting. At least, that’s how I felt. Even a year and a half ago when we did our homestudy, we were asked about how we did and would discipline our children and to that point we really hadn’t needed to discipline much and it was a hard question to answer.

It has now been years since I’ve watched the show but I still do remember some of Super Nanny’s most used techniques: the naughty chair/step/stool (in essence a designated spot for time-outs), her sleep separation technique, rewards charts . . . she was big on discipline and rewards.

Earlier this year Raeca really started testing the limits, like all normal toddlers I guess. So I tried implementing some of SN’s techniques and found they were really not working. I found when I tried to give Raeca a timeout she would just get more upset, scream louder, try to get out, and never learned anything anyways. We tried a rewards jar with very little success, over and over again, we tried the techniques to no avail.

Finally, a few months ago I was getting so frustrated with discipline I got a few books out from the library. I got books out on a range of different parenting techniques and as I read the ones on positive discipline really jumped out at me and made the most sense. Implementing some of techniques in the books I read, while remaining calm myself, have made a tremendous difference in Raeca’s behavior the last few weeks, seriously guys, it’s been a game changer.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned that have made the biggest difference for us:

  1. changing the way we speak – positive discipline involves a lot of speaking positively -go figure. This involves rewording some of our common phrases, so instead of saying “don’t hit”, we are supposed to reword the sentence to something like “be gentle” or “how about a hug instead?”, especially with toddlers who, while they may understand “don’t hit” they don’t really know where to go from there. This way you aren’t telling them what they can’t do but rather giving them something they can do. This works for so many different things, instead of telling kids to not throw their cars, change the sentence to, “how about we drive them on the rug over here” or instead of “don’t scream” you could change it to “please talk with your quiet voice”, etc
  2. ask questions that give a choice – one thing I know about kids is: given the chance they will say say no. For Raeca there are some things she constantly struggles with and always says no to, like going the bathroom before bed, so now instead of telling her it’s time to go to the bathroom or asking her if she wants to go I give her a choice and say: “which bathroom do you want to use tonight, yours or Mommy and Daddy’s?” I now do this for almost everything that she usually resists against and while there are some times where she will say no to both options, it occurs much less often. Some more of my favorites lately have been: “do you want to wear your purple jammies or Minnie jammies?”, and “do you want to wear a ponytail or a headband?”
  3. give a warning and use a timer – my social butterfly loves to go hangout at the park everyday but coming home has always been the issue, last summer I dragged a screaming little girl home every time because she never wanted to leave. About a month ago I bought a timer and when it was almost time for us to leave I would tell her it was almost time for us to go and would ask her if she wanted me to set the timer for 3, 4, or 5 minutes (haha, I love that she doesn’t really understand that 5 is more so she would often choose 3). I would then set the timer and would usually give her another warning at the 1 minute mark and then when the timer went off she wouldn’t even put up a fight. That was a huge break through for us. We would use the timer at home in a variety of different situations as well. We are now at the point where we don’t use the timer, I just tell her we are leaving in a few minutes and when it is time to go she is okay with it. I still can’t believe the change.

I took out quite a few books on positive discipline and this series by Jane Nelsen is far superior to all the other books I read on the topic. I got all three of these books out from the library and there were techniques and tips I was able to take away from each of the books. Understandably the preschooler one was more applicable to where Raeca is at right now.

I’ll be sharing some more of my tips and tricks in the future (not because I think I have it all figured out -I so do not- but because I know there are other moms out there just like me, looking for ideas and guidance on how to raise a healthy and respectful child without crushing their spirit).

I would love to hear about the kinds of parenting/discipline methods do you use in your house. Have you every tried positive discipline and if you have, how has it worked for you?

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