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The 12 Disciplinary Elements

Like most things in life, positive discipline happens all at the same time. If you're changing your approach to your children's behavior, it can seem overwhelming. My personal way of dealing with a seemingly impossible task that makes my anxiety levels soar is to break it into a whole bunch of little tiny parts, each one of which can be easily accomplished. My friend Ailsa calls these the “approachable increments of infinity.”

Here then, are my Twelve Disciplinary Elements. Each one is doable. They're not steps, because you climb a flight of steps one after the other (unless you're like my 86-year-old grandmother and take them two or three at a time). They're pieces of a whole; once you get them working they happen all at once, and each element isn't fully effective without the others. We'll look at each element, and concentrate on making them work for you.

  1. Pay attention to your child.
  2. Respect your children and yourself.
  3. Be reasonable, gentle, and firm.
  4. Prevent and minimize problems through understanding, communication, and modeling.
  5. Use positive reinforcement to encourage and reward proper behavior.
  6. Teach ways to make choices.
  7. Set reasonable personal expectations and goals for your child.
  8. Set reasonable expectations for yourself and your family.
  9. Communicate effective and reasonable limits.
  10. Understand misbehavior.
  11. Provide related, respectful, reasonable responses.
  12. Be consistent.
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Well-Behaved Child © 1999 by Ericka Lutz. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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