Discipline: punishment vs connection-building

Attachment style parenting, extended nursing, positive discipline, baby-led weaning… These are all parenting buzz words being tossed around right now. I am one of these kinds of parents.

I just attended a webinar on positive discipline by Judy Arnall hosted by Scholar’s Choice. The webinar was full of good information, based on research, and had a couple nice examples of positive discipline in real scenarios. The whole concept of positive discipline is to avoid punishment and rather, work on building relationship and connection. Mind you, positive discipline is not permissive parenting… It’s using strategies that equip kids with coping and communication techniques that work.

Judy lightly touches on how to help a high needs child, though she’s personally parented three of them herself.

I’m parenting one too.

My son is high energy, high demand, high expression, and an intense responder.

As of now, he’s almost 20 months old. We’ve been implementing time outs for about 2-3 weeks now. He seems to ‘get it’. We can guide his behavior with a consequence that doesn’t involve spanking.

However, Judy Arnall, says time outs are isolating, stall teaching, could lead to sneaking, and are punishing. She prefers implementing a ‘time in’ once the child is about 3 years old, and says before that age, children simply lack the brain development for time in to be effective. A time in is a period of time a care taker will remove the child from the ‘scene’ or ‘incident’ and go somewhere quiet to cool the emotions down.

I’m then looking for advice on what we could do for my son instead of a time out. When I find some suitable alternatives I will write another post.

Until then, here’s what I’ve found is helping him a tremendous amount:

– a fairly strict routine so his body rhythm is learning to predict what’s next every day
– sequence charts (pictures show him what’s next)
– communicating next activities ahead of time (such as, in 2 minutes we are going to the car)
– helping him find words (Are you hurt? Need a kiss? Do you want to go there? Do you feel frustrated? Do you want that?)
– asking him to say ‘please’ when he wants something
– a little incentive: bribery (do you want milk? Then you need to [insert behavior] first)
– a little incentive: positive energy (very excited energy… We get to go let the dogs out! Yay! So let’s get dressed! Look, mommy loves your pants! Then I put a pant let on my foot and smile. Then he usually wants to wear them too).
– imagination (put the bunny in the hole! Seems to help him put his feet into his shorts and finish getting dressed)
– independence (letting Micah to it himself, like he helps pull his shorts on)
– less pressure (sometimes I walk away after I ask him to do something and he’ll do it on his own time… Then I give big praise!)
– rewards (he already loves putting stickers on a reward chart)
– choosing battles (some things just don’t matter!)
– breathing deep (he is learning to copy me already in deep breathing)
– big motion (he loves being physically active, so bouncing on a yoga ball, riding on my back, going for a walk, or swinging on a swing, running around the house, being bounced in a blanket, etc)
– sensory play (water typically breaks his tension, as does finger paint, listening to music, going outside, eating ice, etc)

Anyone have anything else to add? Any other positive discipline techniques to share for very young toddlers (2 years old or less)?