Why Positive Behavior Support is Way More Than A Sticker Chart!

what is positive discipline

Positive behavior support and positive parenting are methods that work to teach kids right from wrong using natural and logical consequences (e.g., you make a mess you clean it up; you take something without asking, you give it back; you break something on purpose, you work to earn the money to fix it; you are disruptive in the movie theatre, you leave the theatre).

Positive behavior support methods also acknowledge hard work and effort (you worked so hard on that project, I love the effort you put into your piano lessons, you were such a kind friend to Jessica, etc.). Kids are noticed for the good things they do, and when they are having a hard time empathy and compassion are used to show kids you are in their corner and understand their point of view, even if you don’t agree with their behavior.

Boundaries are set but in a loving and confident way, rather than a scary or threatening way. A true relationship is nurtured. The child feels respected and heard and in turn the adult is respected and heard. There is a mutual understanding that we are a team (a family, a community, a classroom) and we work together for the good of the group. Certain things do not come free (toys, games, tv, amusement parks) and children understand their role in working towards the things they want to do.

Many people think positive behavior support is a sticker chart or a reward system. It is not! It is a science that includes a set of rules, and I can tell you that after 20 years experience in the field of behavior as a behavior specialist working with families in their homes, and as a school psychologist working with students, when used correctly, positive behavior support demonstrates positive effects on behavior. It is a way of talking and behaving:

-phrasing things in the positive-walk vs. don’t run
-acknowledging responsible behavior
-setting boundaries-if you want to do X, you must do Z first
-using natural and logical consequences
-being empathetic, compassionate and caring
-working with and relating to your child/student
-teaching and guiding your child or student by using logical explanations and setting examples/modeling positive behaviors such as compassion, generosity, helpfulness, thoughtfulness, hard work, empathy, active listening, resiliency, and teamwork.

When people feel a sense of belonging it increases their self-worth, and thus their good choices! Positive and nurturing relationships lead to a sense of belonging at home, in school, and in the community! Positive behavior support is not coddling or treating a child with “kid gloves.” It is a scientific way of approaching behavior with the understanding that “bad behavior” is the result of unmet needs along with an unstable set of coping skills and/or communication difficulties. The child needs to be taught coping skills, effective communication, etc. so they can meet their needs in a way that is respectful of others. Punishment does not teach coping skills, communication or any of the other skills sets we want to see our children learn. Positive behavior support is not bribery, stickers for being good, or a lack of discipline. Some children are motivated by stickers and visual charts to represent their progress towards a specific goal; however, bribery and sticker charts are not the foundation of a strong system of positive behavior support.

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