7 Ways To Discipline Your Child

Especially for you parents here on the channel, we got to come up with some alternatives to some of the negative discipline. 7 positive ways to discipline your child. I think we’ll start today with a discussion of basic behavioral psychology. I say that it’s basic. But I’m a psychologist. And it’s hard to get for the regular everyday person I think. So, let me take a stab at this Vicki and you can kind of clear it up for us. Okay, if I get it too complicated. Here’s the thing. there are 2 basic ways to change behavior. There’s reinforcement and there’s punishment. Okay. Now, sometimes punishment gets kind of a bad rap. We’re talking about discipline today. And just in terms of behavioral psychology, here’s the bottom line. Reinforcement increases behavior. So, if you want to see more of it, you reinforce it. Exactly. Punishment decreases a behavior. So, if you want to see less of it, use a punishment. Okay. Now, punishment I think has a bad rap, Vicki because we associated a lot of times with like corporal punishment. Or spanking or hitting. That’s not what we’re talking about here. Right. Punishment simply from a behavioral standpoint is something that decreases a behavior. Right. Okay. Now, let’s talk positive and negative. Okay. I’m the positivity guy. But that’s not we’re all about here. But think of it as plus and minus. Think of it as adding or subtracting. So, in a positive reinforcement, we’re adding something in a positive punishment. We’re adding something. But you remember you want to increase or decrease the behavior. So, positive reinforcement, you’re adding something to increase the behavior you want. Yes. Well, actually not always you want. Sometimes you do positive reinforcement you don’t even know it. But what we’re talking about and you get really clear about what you want, you’re adding something in order to increase a behavior. Yes. And your comment was so appropriate, Vicki. Because sometimes we don’t realize that we’re giving a positive reinforcement to a behavior and not even realizing it. A good example is attention. Right. You’ve heard that your kids will do things for attention? Yeah. Uh-huh. And it doesn’t matter if it’s your positive attention or negative attention. Oh, bad breath is better than no breath at all. Right. So, bring it on. So, keep that in mind for a minute. Positive means we’re adding something. Negative means we’re subtracting something. So, think of the math symbols. Positive, negative, adding, subtracting, right? And that will be important because what we’re all about in today’s episode is some alternative, some positive alternatives. Now, I’m going back to my definition of positive which is good, right? Yes. Some positive alternatives to spanking and yelling and some of the things that get us trapped as parents. Alright. So, with our basic understanding of behavioral psychology. Here’s number 1 of 7. Okay, it’s positive reinforcement. So, we’re going to add something in order to increase a behavior. What are we going to add? We’re going to add something they want. Right. This is rewarding them. So, you’re monitoring and trying to catch them being good, doing the right things. Fulfilling the request, whatever it is. And then you give them something as a reward. You’re adding something they like. Okay, great example. Let’s say that you notice your child pulling out their books and starting their homework without being asked. Whew! That’s what you wanted, right? So, you want to reinforce that. Yeah, we want to increase the behavior. So, we’re going to add something or reinforce. And it could be, just what you did. Out little woohoo! Yeah. Some positive attention. Give them an “Atta boy.” Or pat him on the back or “Thank you so much.” These are social reinforcers. But what if you have a little token thing going on already with your kids and they get to earn little tokens that they can add up toward some kind of a benefit later on? Well, give him a couple of extra tokens. You know, whatever that means in your particular family. But you’re going to reward that. That’s number 1. Great. So number 2, we’re going to talk about negative reinforcement. No, don’t get tripped up about, “Oh, it’s negative. We don’t want to do.” No, negative means subtract. Take it away. In order to increase the behavior because it’s a reinforcement. So, basically, what you’re going to do is take away something that they don’t want in the first place in order to make their life easier or happier. The best example is when kids do this to us. Okay, so what do you mean? When they’re begging. Begging. “Oh, please, please, please, please, please, please!” And then you give them what they want. And they take away the begging to reinforce you for what you just gave them. Ah, so kids are actually really good at using negative reinforcement. Yeah. But as a parent, what would be an example? Hmm… Let’s say that you are standing there, you know, the old classic version of mom standing there with her arms folded watching you, hands on the hips. Yes. Where she’s… So, do they like that kind of supervision? No. So, as soon as they start doing what it is you want them to do, you remove that. You take that away. That’s an example of a negative reinforcer. Or if they have some kind of a restriction that’s there, you release or remove the restriction. Yeah. So, another example, let’s say that you were going to require them to do an hour of chores every day after school. But because they came home and they got right on their homework, you say to them, “You know what, today you only have to do a half hour.” Yeah, negative reinforcement. You subtracted or took away something they didn’t want. The extra chores. To increase the behavior of doing your homework. Exactly. Number 3 is going to sound really negative. Because it’s negative punishment. That almost sounds sour to even come out of your mouth. I know, right? I’m going to get kicked right off the channel. But remember, punishment is to decrease the behavior. Yes and negative means subtract or take away. So, you’re going to take away something that they really would have preferred to keep. To encourage a decrease in a particular behavior. Example, let’s say your teenager comes home late. Okay. That probably doesn’t happen to you. But let’s just say that your teenager comes home late. You’re going to take away something they would rather keep in order to decrease the behavior of coming home late. So, you maybe take away access to the vehicle. Right. For the next day. Or you take away the privilege of being able to go out the next night. Yeah. We see this a lot maybe with kids who have a certain amount of screen time. And maybe you away 10 minutes of their screen time in order to decrease a behavior they were doing. A negative behavior. Negative punishment. You take away something to decrease the behavior. Okay now, we’re moving into number 4. Positive punishment. Which means good punishment, no. It means add something, that’s the positive. Punishment to decrease the behavior. So, you’re going to add something that they don’t want in order to decrease whatever the behavior was. Usually this is a penalty of some kind. “Oh, you did that so now you get this. I’m giving you this penalty or a fine.” This incidentally is where spanking comes in. Which we don’t advocate on this channel. Because spanking is so risky. Because a lot of parents do it in an anger. But the concept of spanking is a positive punishment. Right. The problem is that it gets out of control because parents aren’t… So, what are some better positive punishments we can talk about now? Well, the fine for example. I mentioned, I like to use fines because you’re giving them something that they really didn’t want to decrease a behavior. So, we did a video recently about helping teens to stop swearing. And I used this example, this mom that I was working with. Told her teenage sons who were just potty mouth. I mean, they were popping off in the car and everything. She finally said, “Look guys. I’m not going to nag you about your swearing. I’ve decided that I will tolerate it. I’ll put up with it for only $1 per word. That’s all. You swear as much as you can afford.” Now, this is an example of a positive punishment. Right. Because she’s giving them a fine, something they don’t want, to decrease the swearing. The behavior. Positive punishment. Give them something they don’t want. Now we can talk in other videos about how to enforce that fine. Those are hard. You know these are hard ones. They’re hard ones to follow through. But you do have to… Well, it’s about control isn’t it? Right. Because if you don’t feel that you control something, you’re more likely to get a little emotionally tipped over. The thing is as soon as parents get emotionally tipped over. If you yell, for example. You’ve just sent a signal to your child that you are out of control. Yeah. And they’re like, “Oh, okay. So, I’ve got the control now .” And suddenly they’re thinking, without even knowing, they’re thinking they’re doing some negative reinforcement going on. Right. So, they’re, they’re training us, too. Alright. Number 5 is actually a hybrid of some of what we’ve already talked about. I call it response cost. Where we’re going to combine a reinforcer to increase a behavior and a Punisher to decrease the behavior. Here’s an example of what I mean, let’s say that you want the kids to sit quietly while you’re at the wedding reception. Okay. Or church, or the meeting that, you know, a place where you want the kids… Might be in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Something limited. You take a ziplock bag. The kind you can see through. You write your child’s name with a marker on the outside of the bag. Because then they have a little bit of ownership. Then you put ten things into the bag. Things they want. Yeah. Because this is the reinforcer. Something that they want that you’re going to give to them. Positive reinforcer. Okay, that’s in the bag. Now, you set it up like this. “At the end of our appointment today, when we leave Dr. Paul’s office, you get to have all of these that are left.” Yeah. Okay, you get everything that’s left. Now, they’re looking at the bag in there like, “Huh?” They’re interested, right? Talk to me here. Now, between now and when we leave Dr. Paul’s office. Any time you’re up jumping around or your bums not on the seat or however you want to define it. Anytime you’re causing this disruption and make sure that you’re clear about that. Right. Or it could be a specific thing like hitting their sister, okay? “If I see you hit your sister, that’ okay. I’ll forgive you. It’s going to cost you one of these.” And so, during the appointment, if they’re, you know, hitting their sister, if they’re up jumping around or whatever it is you specified. You simply reach in the bag. Take one of those out that goes into your pocket. Reseal the bag. And you’re not even giving it a lot of attention. No. Don’t have to. Yeah. Yeah. Because then after the appointment, you follow through on your promise. You give them the bag. They get everything that’s left. Mm-hmm. That’s called response cost. It’s a cost for the response that they chose to have. And it teaches them to start monitoring their own behavior better. So, number 6. Be an example of calm voice, calm face, calm words. Yes. Keep this an example of what you want that to look like. Right. You know, I’ve I’ve noticed as a mom, there are times I would realize that I was walking around like this. My eyebrows. You know, and I’d like, “Oh”, just trying to relax your face and bring on a pleasant attitude. Because I realized that that it was affecting the way the children were acting. What you do matters. How you show up is powerful. And sometimes kids aren’t going to hear what you’re saying. Because what you’re doing or what you’re presenting or projecting is speaking so loud. So, number 7. Work the consequence in a positive way. Now, this means instead of saying, “If you don’t do X-Y-Z, you’re going to be in trouble. This is going to happen.” But rather say when you do this, “We will do that.” You know. So, when you have picked up your room, we will go get our ice cream. Instead of saying, “If you don’t pick up your room, you’re not going to get your ice cream.” There’s a real different feel to that. 2 negative statements? Yeah. And now we are using the word negative as bad. No. Frame it positively. It feels so different. “If you don’t do that then you can’t do this.” Okay, well how’s that feel? How does that feel to you? If you don’t finish watching this video, then you can’t come back tomorrow?” Okay, that’s a dumb example. But just notice how that feels as opposed to “When you finish cleaning your room, we’ll go out for ice cream.” Yeah. Or everyone who accomplishes this task gets to participate in that activity. You know, use that a school a lot. Everyone who is at their desk gets X-Y-Z or something. Everyone who’s raising their hands will be in a positive way. Right. That’s just 7. There’s more. Share some of your comments down below. We’ll have a conversation about this. There’s a lot of positive possibilities here. I got into a little bit of psychology there. Hopefully when you tracked all of that. We’ve got some other tools and resources for you especially the Parenting Power-Up. You get to have me and Vicky on your private parenting team. Check it out right over here.

80 thoughts on “7 Ways To Discipline Your Child

  1. Both of you Doctor and your wife look great. Thank you to both of you for wonderful videos. Blessings to both of you and your children.

  2. Dr. Paul – 1) Great content, again! 2) I love how you & your beautiful wife interact w/ each other. So cute! 3) Thanks for speaking in math terms (+ and -) … that's language I can easily understand! 😆. 4) LOVE the idea of a baggie w/ items a child wants. Overall, fantastic video!

  3. Love ur vids!!! All these examples help a lot, thanks so much for taking the time to help us moms and dads, parenting can be auper hard and a huge challenge cause we are dealing with little humans that we want to be good humans and successful ones too, when they grow old, so thanks a lot and keep ur amazing vida coming!!

  4. Your tips help me a lot…! Now, I am able to control my child more than he was able to control me 🙂 I am still trying to stop his crying before entering the child care center. My child main problem: he does not know English. But here all are speaking in English. So, it's also hard for him staying their all day, more than 8 hours. Hope for the best. Thank you so much!

  5. Isnt fining a negative punishment? If its taking away their money or time.. what does it matter?? It all depends WHAT you call it. Spanking can be looked at as a negative punishment because its taking away their peace and comfort. Access to the vehicle can be positive punishment if you call it "giving them a ticket".

  6. I absolutely love all your videos!! thanks so much for your wisdom!!! We have been waiting forever to get into a good family therapist.. It is just so nice to kind of have one with the show. I really think a lot of our family issues can be solved with good parenting by consistently using these tools. I have a very active 5 year old boy that I have used that one method for bedtime when I tell him "if you want the door open you need to be laying in bed quietly, but if I hear you making noises I'm going to close the door. Before using this method he would be very disruptive to his 15 month old little sister trying to sleep in her crib in the next room over and also to his 10 year old brother who he shares a room with. Since using this method he stays in bed quietly and falls asleep on his own and I really just can't thank you enough! I never thought it could be so simple!!!!

  7. Does a 'reward' need to be finance-based? I am quick to give my son a hug, high-five, kisses (he says eewwww) In school we try to reware with "Class DoJo" points on an app and when he reaches X, he'll can have/do, etc etc

  8. Great content! I appreciate the clear explanations. I love the idea with the "prize" baggie for keeping little children quiet at an appointment. I would absolutely LOVE more practical, explicit ideas that I can implement right away for different scenarios. Do you have some you could share?

  9. Hi Dr.Paul,

    I'm not a parent, I'm 22 YO masters student, still live at home and I have a rather antagonistic 9YO sister, as a sibling and not a parent my power is somewhat limited and I've noticed that after watching some of your videos that I've been negatively reinforcing behaviour that I definitely don't want to see. Do you have any tips on how I might reverse this behaviour and condition her to stop being annoying/antagonistic/doing things she knows that she shouldn't?

    I don't want to just notify my parents when she's naughty as that'll program her to think there are no real consequences for those behaviours.

    I have another question: If I was an actual parent I would want to condition my hypothetical children not to do bad things by just rewarding them when when they don't do them, for example, if they're physically hurting another child or something else that has some gravity to it, how would you proceed to let them immediately know they need to stop and never do that again, like running into the road or breaking something of great value or getting very emotional over trivial matters?

    For example, what would you do if your child broke something expensive like a £400 (~$525) game console or something sentimental maybe?
    I'm would say, right that's roughly 2 years of birthday and Christmas presents worth of money so you're not getting any presents for the next two years. Maybe that's a quite harsh? I'm rather curious what you and Vicky think on the matter.



  10. what if you have two kids one year apart, one four and one five, and they fight over everything? No matter how many items you get? And you single mom? ?!?!

  11. Dr Paul. You are a Godsend! Your chanel popped up on my feed a couple of days ago after a rather nasty argument/screaming match between my 12 year old daughter and l.
    I have been searching for videos to help mend my relationship with my children but many are too airy fairy to help with reality.
    This is so not the case with you. I am watching the videos as I clean my house so can't always comment but this one is as are all your videos is so practical.

    I think "hey I can do that." so easy to implement. I thank you both from the bottom of my heart ♥

  12. Hi Dr.Paul, how to deal with children with autism? Any example of positive punishment instead of negative punishment, where negative punishments are more easily to be understand by them…

  13. Dr Paul, thank you for these wonderful parenting videos! So helpful, easy to understand and effective. I was wondering if you could do a video segment on small children, toddlers, hitting themselves in affect? My 3 year old does not hit anyone else, nor does she hit things, however she hits/scratches, pinches/pulls really hard etc. herself whenever she is upset! Basically she self-harms and hurts herself as a coping mechanism. Why is this and how can I help her learn another skill to release her strong emotions. Thank you SO much! <3

  14. You are natural, down to earth people – thanks for being who you are. I know it's hard to explain complicated things in a simple manor, but you succeed, every time – sorry for my poor grammair, I'm from Croatia, but you have influenced may way of behaving with kids in a positive mannor, even when I thought – there's no way out. Thank you for beeing.

  15. Spanking is wrong. Always. Wether controlled or not. So happy to live in a country where I can call the police if I see someone spank their child.

  16. I'm blessed to listen to both of you.Still not too late to learn.Thanks so much.Your funny video makes it easier to remember what to do when we're going thru the difficult times😃

  17. My 6 year old gets very angry and starts screaming and crying when he loses points for bad behavior. It gets so stressful! How to deal with that effectively?

  18. I just found your video series – Thank you so much! Very wise advice. God Bless you & all parents trying to be the best parent they can be 🙂

  19. With my 4 year old son, one other way which has worked so far is ‘3 times rule’
    If for ex he misbehaves/ shouts, 1st I calmly, assert his misbehaviour, follow the same terminology like ‘bad manners’
    2nd if he does – warm him again, also tell him consequence in case if he misbehaved again
    3rd time if he did, calmly follow what is told to him, like put him in thinking cot for 5 mins to think about his behaviour.
    This is not suitable in all cases, for relevant ones it has worked wonders

  20. 11:00 This isn't a good method. It's preparing a reward for the child like you expect him to do bad otherwise. On top of that, a study has shown that if children get a reward for a duty and you remove this reward later on, they will get very angry and stop doing the duty. Basically because they do it not out of responsibility, but only for the reward.

    I would instead reward the child for general good behavior.

  21. I recently married about two years ago my husband have a eight year old daughter who doesn't listen to nothing he say I don't know what to do it is coming between my husband and my marriage I have four kids of my own and they all are grown my kids didn't raise me I raise them what should I do I love my husband but his daughter is raising him and his ex-wife is right along with it …… PLEASE HELP DESPERATE…!!???

  22. I thought he's going to talk about doing it without kids knowing it. My solution is to lock the door and don't make noises and do it as they do in the jungle!😘

  23. My 10 yr old daughter is veeeery slow in everything she has to do. When we/she have /has to go somewhere for example, she doesn't seem to care, she is not moving, she always finds something that detracts her, even though she might be very interested in doing that or going there. I tried everything to change that behavior, but I'm no expert and I don't want to give up though. What would you suggest? Thank you!

  24. Hi Dr.Paul I have five kids and all of them have different thought process and mind set. Earlier things were fine but after my 3rd child my elder two's behavior changed and they always say because of her everything is going wrong and due to this my 3rd child who was happy and caring has now become hyper and crying baby and I see my 4th one following her to make her things do. All the time I'm just trying to sought their fights and trying to teach them the difference between good and bad. Elder daughter is 10yrs 2nd son is 8yrs 3rd daughter is 3yrs and 4th is 1.8yrs. pls advice hw to control and keep them calm as I too loose my control at times and at the end I become the culprit. Pls advice. thank you

  25. i have a question here, sir
    in the scenario that you've mentioned at the end of the video…" If you clean the stuff you will get an Ice-cream" wont this will put the kids to a habit of an doing things only at the cost of getting something in return….. cause most of the situations that we face are a part of the daily activity expected out of them….

  26. Great video! I've tried some of these after the first time I watched it a while back, and try to use the concepts as consistently as possible. Advice and a question: it's not likely to work the first time or even the first few times if there's a history of different pattern of interaction previous to implementing the strategies, so be patient. The question then: How patient is TOO patient, is there a point where we say, "okay, I get the concept, I've implemented it with fidelity for X days/months, but there doesn't seem to be any improvement."?

  27. Great ideas.. Really appreciate your sharing. trying to apply them with my 40 pupils in every class that I have

  28. i was wondering is there a thing like praising your child too much? i often say "well done" or "you did it! great!" when my 2 year old manages to pull on/off some of his clothes for example. and i found him praising me like "mama did it!" when i do some of the things that require more of the fine motor skills for him. you think this is ok or am i overdoing it?

  29. 8:14 But what if you're not doing it out of anger, and you're completely in control? Like if you've had time to cool down, and you were ready.

  30. I have just found Your channel. I still don't have children, because it is freaking me out, there doesn't seem to be a "right" way to do it. But watching Your videos, makes me feel better equipped for the task of becoming and being a mother.
    Thank You for Your work and sharing Your knowledge!

  31. I am someone who was very abused as a kid and I am trying to raise a child(not mine, my little cousin), and I will definitely be trying some of these. Bc I know that hitting, screaming, and verbal abuse did not work on me, and I want to raise this kid right.

  32. Dr Paul, All of your advice seems fantastic but when I apply it to my 2 year old, who is an extremely strong-willed child, it falls short. Have you done a video that could help me with her?

  33. Love the waiting room and special bag with their name on trick. I have put a clear box on the fridge with my kids name it it and every time they do a good deed I will put an extra one in but if they made a wrong turn I take something out. Hopefully next week they will have some treats for their half term holiday. I think it will work because it's a very visual thing and they will see it every time they go to the fridge. Will let you know the outcome.

  34. The part you talked about the ziploc bag to use at church sounds good but I don't think it will work for me. I have a 4.6 year old and a 2.6 year old child, they argue and doesn't want to share. When we are in church, if the younger one sees me take something out of the bag, she will voice for it and that could be noisy. The older child gets angry and screamed when I took a toy out of the bag at home. There is not much I know to do with the younger child because she will just cry and scream if she can't have her way. When you are in church you almost have to do what she wants or leave the building.

  35. Hi Doc.. I wanted to thank you for being here as our family and a lifetime coach. my child has adhd. is this forever? do i need to follow his medications? we are struggling much about his behavior. i sent him to sped school to adjust his behaviors limitation. i need an advice from you Doctor Paul. i got sick for this.

  36. But what about positive reinforcement taking away the child's intrinsic satisfaction of doing something 'good' or well. Such as with the example of doing their homework independently, they get a personal satisfaction from it. However, if you reward them everytime they do something well or something that is expected of them most times, isn't this actually counterproductive? Thanks.

  37. I had a 10$ find when my kids missed the bus and I had to drive them to school. They only missed the bus once.

  38. With a negative punishment- practically what do you say?? It might sound like a threat- if you don't lay down and stay in bed (which is hard for my little kid), I'll take something away from you?

    I find it helpful when you give an example illustrating the words you might say to them.. Can you do that more often? it makes it more clear.

    Also, can you do a video on getting a TODDLER to stay in his bed that is a positive parenting method, I'm having such a hard time- unsure of what the words my kid needs to hear and then he looks so sad and looks almost hurt by my boundaries (

  39. I agree with what you say – but is there any proof that this works or is it just a common sense approach ?

  40. Since "positive" and "negative" can be confusing, I recommend using "adding" and "removing". It's more straightforward to talk about an adding or removing punishment or an adding or removing reward. It doesn't have the connotations of good and bad that positive and negative have. Thanks for the videos!

  41. Hey there v r parents from India n I found ur tips n tricks really interesting so will be posting my experience in this new journey n definitely for sure need ur help n support ..thank you n take care.

  42. I love the channel and my little one is 10 months old so I'm studying your lectures/videos here to help me. You're basically identically in line with my Church teachings so this stuff resonates with me. I'm a stay home Dad so I need all the help I can get. 🙂 My wife works for now and I am very glad to be blessed to be the able to stay home with little Eliot. I very much a scared of Day Cares since I want him to be raised by me and my wife.
    Thanks, you Two. You're brilliant, nice, and funny. Thanks for helping all of us who are newer parents to succeed like you.
    I just joined this channel, but maybe I can catch up within six months.

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