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What Are the Differences Between Progressive Discipline & Positive Discipline?

by Becky Swain , studioD

The daily challenges associated with parenting make it easy to forget the goal of disciplining your child. Discipline enables a parent to diminish inappropriate behaviors, but ideally, enables the child to learn how to choose acceptable behaviors with confidence in the future. Positive and progressive disciplinary techniques promote recognizing appropriate behaviors and teaching children how to make better choices.

Replace the Bad With Something Good

Parents and teachers utilize positive discipline to modify behavior. Fundamental to positive discipline is assisting children in how to replace unacceptable behaviors with acceptable behaviors, according to Rajeswari Natrajan and Judith A. Myers-Walls, Ph.D., for Purdue University. Punitive disciplinary techniques such as physical punishment and yelling fail to promote this goal, and are counterproductive to your child developing healthy self-esteem. Parents prevent unwanted behavior by investigating the cause of problematic behavior, and tailoring a response accordingly. Parents model acceptable replacement behaviors, communicate expectations for behavior and reward their child’s appropriate behaviors.

Continuums Ensure Many Choices

Like positive disciplinary techniques, progressive disciplinary techniques emphasize providing children with experiences to learn positive replacement behaviors, and do not use punitive strategies. Schools implement progressive disciplinary strategies through a wide range of interventions, consequences and supports for students. The continuum of interventions promotes individualized responses for problematic behavior. School principals play an important role in the selection and implementation of intervention strategies and consequences. The school recognizes parents as crucial partners in monitoring their child’s academic and behavioral development in progressive discipline.

Ouch! That Hurts

Positive and progressive discipline do not use punitive disciplinary strategies such as spanking, threats, name-calling and yelling. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that physical punishment increases the probability of problems such as mood disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, and personality disorders. Parents who use yelling or physical punishment to modify problematic behavior teach their child that aggressive, angry behavior responses resolve dilemmas, and increase the likelihood that their child will choose similar strategies in the future.

Doing Well and Feeling Good

Disciplinary techniques can influence how your child feels about herself. Positive and progressive discipline allows children to learn appropriate replacement behaviors when problems arise. Unlike punitive techniques that simply punish for unacceptable behaviors, permitting children to learn positive replacement behaviors equips them to feel confident about themselves, and how to make good choices in the future.

About the Author

Becky Swain's first publication appeared in the "Journal of Personality Assessment" in 1984. Her articles have also appeared on various websites. She is an adjunct college instructor, licensed school psychologist and educational consultant. She holds a Master of Science in clinical psychology and a Doctor of Philosophy in educational psychology, both from Mississippi State University.

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