Providing positive discipline for children – Part 5: Tantrums, whining and positive reinforcement

In this article series, explore the purposes and principles of positive discipline. You will be able to generate several appropriate techniques for dealing with discipline problems involving children of varying ages.

Tantrums and whining
When a child has a temper tantrum, they are having an emotional breakdown. This is not the time to be yelling or trying to correct a behavior. They are unable to reason or listening to what is being said. Think of how adults react when someone is yelling at them while they are very upset – it is hard for even adults to listen to others well. It is good to wait until all parties are calm and then discuss your concerns.

When a child is whining, the same rule applies: wait to discuss the concern until the child has stopped the whining. When adults feed into this behavior, we are telling them that it is an acceptable behavior. We should give them the options one time and leave it at that. The more we feed into the whining, the more a child will continue whining.

Remember not to give into either a temper tantrum or whining, as the child will learn to continue with the behavior to get what they want.

Positive reinforcement
It is more natural to tell a child what they are doing wrong, than what they are doing right. For some reason, it takes effort to make a positive comment when a child is doing well. Take the time to go throughout the day and not let one negative comment come out of you. Instead of saying, “Don’t pull the dogs hair,” try saying, “This is how we pet the dog.” Another example is, “We draw on paper, not the wall. Let’s clean this up and go get some paper to drawn on.” We are teaching children what they can do, instead of telling them what they can’t do with out any alternatives.

Other Michigan State University Extension news articles:

  • Providing positive discipline for children – Part 1: Discipline and distractions

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