Positive Disciplining Through Assertive Communication and Active Involvement 


While working with children, as professional I have found that often parents struggle a lot to make child comply to what is being instructed to them. There can be several reasons to child’s non-adherence that include: lack of instruction understanding, unable to relate with the goal, not understanding what is exactly expected from them, feeling of getting dictated, mood and temper tantrums, etc. Below given some case citations that any parent can relate to , which both talks about the problem behaviour, its causal factor and the path to reach a solution in most effective way possible.

Case 1: Before going to market, Rahul’s mother instructed him to clean his room, and she wanted to see it clean in her return. After her return, she found the room in same condition and Rahul was playing games on a digital device. Mother was very angry and she snatched the device from Rahul, asking him to clean the room immediately or else to sleep in empty stomach at night. Rahul too became adamant on this saying he don’t like room cleaning and finally ended up getting slap from his angry mom.

Case 2: Raj’s mother wanted him to clean his room. So she politely asked for a helping hand from Raj in the chore of room cleaning. Together Raj and his mother were done with cleaning his room in no time. Further working hand-in-hand with a talk of special meal mother going to cook, next after this chore, for Raj was fun too.

Effective Communication is the Key :

In the above-mentioned cases, both the mothers have wanted their sons to complete the same task. However, the approach implemented was what made the difference. In first case, Rahul’s mother was authoritarian in her communicative approach regarding the task. At the end when Rahul also demonstrated such kind of stubbornness, she completely lost her cool and went physically aggressive. The outcome for this, thus, reduced to null. Whereas, on the other hand, Raj’s mother adopted an assertive and active approach for the same task and she resorted with fruitful outcome.

From these examples, it is obvious that to teach children right behaviour and attitude in life, positive disciplining strategies are needed rather than strict authoritarian one. The positive disciplining can only take place where there exists proper communication between parent and the child along with active involvement in tasks. A communication is effective when it is clear, meaningful and assertive in nature.

Types of Communication Style observed in Parents :

Further, to understand this, let us get to know the basic but major communication styles adapted by parents in everyday life while disciplining their children:

  • Aggressive Communication- This kind of communication include demanding, dominating, criticizing, controlling, blaming and threatening approach; and hence, not effective in yielding good results.
  • Passive Communication- The type of communication that is more indifferent and uninvolved in nature. Hence, no positive behaviour is reinforced from this communicative approach.
  • Assertive Communication- This is one of the most effective communication style. The parents adopting this approach are more clear in conveying their requirements, ideas and feelings to their children. Hence, this approach gives a win-win situation to both the parents and the children in terms of positive feedback and reinforcement.

Activities You should Practice Everyday to Raise a Well-Disciplined Child:

However, to practice assertive communication with their children, the parents can try out certain activities at home that are listed below:

  • Using Time-In: The concept of ‘time-in’ is about secluding the child for problem behaviour but in most constructive fashion. For example, creating a corner for the child in the house itself that includes some materials of productive interest like music, books, family album, sensory tools (soft pillows, sponge balls, doodle boards, etc.), etc. The whole idea is to make the child feel calm from within when he/ she is agitated and unable to follow instructions. The time should never exceed more than few minutes, and then the child need to be called back by the parents and communicate in a very polite yet firm voice to make him/ her understand why the time-in was given. This will help the child re-consider and re-think the cause and consequences of his/ her activity in constructive manner.
  • Offer Choices: Offering choices to children from an early age not only helps in inculcating positive behaviour among them but also help develop their ability of reasoning while selecting. Initially the parents can help their children with choice making with step-wise explanations and analogies for making a particular choice over something else. This kind of activity will help children to get prepare for their future life challenges by inducing sense of confidence and esteem within them and in turn also help develop trust building in parent-child relationship.
  • Diversion and Channelization: This activity is more effective in case of younger children. As children have low span of attention, this technique is helpful in distracting them from their unwanted behaviour and channelize it to something positive and productive as per his/ her interest. However, this is not a permanent solution to positive disciplining, especially when dealing with elder children. Elder children needs a much more direct and genuine approach rather than a temporary distracting one.
  • Being Consistent Role Model: As per the common saying, ‘Your child is your mirror image’. Hence, no activity is more effective than being an active role player to your child. 

Thus, the positive habit building in children requires positive disciplining that can be fostered through right kind of communication and right amount of parental involvement in child’s life, which should start from an early age. Being consistent and assertive while communicating with children does this little magic in not only bringing up the positive attitude in child but also developing healthy relational bond between parents and children.

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