opposed to making a child behave. It
gets away from that the narrow kind
of thinking and sees parenting as a
nurturing, teaching process as opposed
to punishment,” says Patenaude.
The Positive Discipline Program was
initially developed to offer parents alternatives to physical punishment.
“Lots of child abuse starts off as discipline that gets out of hand,” Patenaude
says. Positive discipline methods show
parents how to deal with conflict with
their kids in a non-violent, solution-focused, respectful manner that’s based
on the child’s development.
Getting away from using punish-
ments and rewards to influence a child’s
behaviour gives parents a lot more
freedom to respond. “When your child
does this, it’s not mandatory that you do
that,” Patenaude explains. “Instead,
parents are preventative in their think-
ing. They tune in to ‘What am I expect-
ing this child to do?’”
For example, you want your toddler
to start using a cup. First, Patenaude
says you have to ask if she’s really ready
to use one. This is as much a matter
of development as age. Ask yourself:
“Does she have the dexterity for the
cup? Am I willing to support the idea
that she is going to drop that cup a
whole bunch of times?” Dropping the
cup over and over again doesn’t mean
she’s a bad kid, Patenaude says, rather
she’s building the type of dexterity
needed to hold it.
Or when she’s three years old she and
drops a toothbrush into a toilet. Spanking, scolding or taking away a favourite
toy won’t help her learn why not to drop
toothbrushes in the toilet. “We think
we can somehow just convince kids to
do what we want them to do without
understanding we have to teach them.
And it has to be age- and development-appropriate,” says Patenaude.
Teaching your kids doesn’t end when
they learn to help find groceries, hold
a cup or keep toothbrushes out of the
toilet. Parenting is a lifetime role, Barker
says, and childhood is when children
need to build the foundational skills
they’ll need as adults.
Most parents will admit to losing their
cool and making mistakes more than a
few times while raising their kids. But
they also want to send their children
off into the world equipped with self-
discipline, problem solving and other
important lifelong skills.
“You want to do the best for them,”
says Johnson. “You want to make the
best choices you can for them.” a
Raising your child, not your voice