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4 Criteria for Effective Discipline: Does it Teach Valuable Social & Life Skills for Good Character?

by Hannah Slattery, LPC, NCC

Alright, parents, we’ve read through the first three blogs about the 4 criteria for effective discipline (if not, please go back and read them) and we are just teeming with anticipation to read about the last one! For a moment let’s go back to our life skills chart, the characteristics we would like our children to have as young adults. Do you believe that effective discipline can teach our children all they need to know by the time they’re 25? Let’s think about what punitive and misinformed punishment could lead to, potential violence or aggression, sneakiness, low self-esteem, and mood dysregulation. Positive Discipline is not just for stopping the misbehaviors during childhood, it is to teach long-term life skills that will hopefully turn them into positive discipline parents.

The journey of Positive Discipline parenting can be aided by knowing your desirable destination, the idea of what you would like your household to look and feel like. What skills would you like to possess and pass down to your children? If your child has the capacity to understand moments of having their lid flipped, know their role and responsibilities in the home, and be able to feel loved and cared for, then they are much more likely to succeed. It may be beneficial to have that life skills list somewhere in your home that you can reconvene to when you’re having the desire to go back to punishment.

Now before we end our 4 criteria era, I’d like to give you a few more learning points. First, I’d like you to put yourself in your child’s shoes. Either write this down or discuss this with a partner. I want you to describe yourself as your child might describe themselves. Think about the way you interact with them, the insecurities they may have, and the way they ask for their needs to be met. Are these descriptions on track for accomplishing the life skills you want them to have by 25? If not, it may be time to start the Positive Discipline track if you haven’t already. Your child can be a reflection of how they’ve been treated and what they’ve been taught, verbally or non-verbally.

Last I’d like to leave you with some kind AND firm phrasings to help get you through some difficult times.


1. Validate the feeling

I know it is hard to stop playing AND it is time for dinner.


2. Show understanding

I can understand why you would rather watch TV than do your homework AND homework needs to be done first.


3. Redirection

You don’t want to brush your teeth AND I don’t want to pay the dentist bill for cavities. I’ll race you to the bathroom.


4. Follow through on advance agreements

I know you don’t want to do your chores, AND what was our agreement about when they would be done?

5. Provide choice

You don’t want to go to bed AND it is bedtime. Is it your turn to read a story or mine?


6. A choice and then follow through on deciding what you will do

I know you want to keep playing video games AND your time is up. You can turn it off now or it will be put in my closet.


I hope that your initial journey with Positive Discipline has been insightful, sparked curiosity, and has helped heal some wounds. If you are looking to continue below is a list of resources that can keep you on the Positive Discipline path.



Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skills

by Jane Nelsen Ed.D.


Positive Discipline Parenting Tools: The 49 Most Effective Methods to Stop Power Struggles, Build Communication, and Raise Empowered, Capable Kids

by Jane Nelson Ed.D.


Positive Discipline: The First Three Years, Revised and Updated Edition: From Infant to Toddler--Laying the Foundation for Raising a Capable, Confident

By Jane Nelson Ed.D.


Positive Discipline A-Z: 1001 Solutions to Everyday Parenting Problems

By Jane Nelson Ed.D.


Positive Discipline for Teenagers, Revised 3rd Edition: Empowering Your Teens and Yourself Through Kind and Firm Parenting

By Jane Nelson Ed.D


** I recommend any book by Jane Nelson as she is the original creator of Positive Discipline.

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