Keys to discipline your child in a positive way


Start disciplining your toddler in a positive way – English

Narrator: With the advancement in the physical, intellectual and language development of the one-year-old, you need to show your child more about the world. Tell him what he can and cannot do. Starting positive discipline with your toddler now helps him to grow up into a cooperative child.

Scene: The parents encourage their boy to tidy up toys on the floor.

Sub-heading: 1. Encourage desirable behaviour

Scene: When the boy picks up the TV remote control, daddy waves his hand to indicate no and takes it away.

Narrator: Encourage your child’s desirable behaviour so that she will be more likely to do it again.

Scene: Parents clap hands and give a thumb-up when girl puts toy into a basket. Girl also claps hands happily.

Sub-heading: 2. Set simple rules

Daddy: Wash your hands before dinner.

Narrator: You can set 3 to 4 simple rules for your child.

Scene: Daddy takes girl to sit at the dinner table after washing hands and says, “Sit down and eat.” He then sit down together with mum and girl.

Narrator: Don’t forget to set a good example for your child.

Scene: Daddy praises girl when she eats with a spoon.

Narrator: Set limits and boundaries such as keeping your child away from areas of potential danger.

Scene: Mummy is working in the kitchen with a shut child-proof gate. Girl approaches mummy and mummy tells her to stay in the dining room to play.

Sub-heading: 3. Assertive discipline

Narrator: Give simple short instructions for the child to follow.

Scene: Daddy takes child to the high chair at the dinner table.

Daddy: Stay in your seat.

Scene: Girl points to the other side.

Daddy: Not now. Stay in your seat.

Narrator: If your child follows, praise her such as touching her head and say “Well done”. If she does not follow, you can repeat the instruction.

Scene: Girl cries aloud and doesn’t want to sit down in the high chair. Daddy put her down in the high chair and repeat the instruction for her to seat.

Narrator: Then redirect her attention to something interesting. For example, mummy shows the girl’s favourite dish to her and says, “Look. Yummy tomatoes.”

Scene: Daddy praises the child for calming down and obeying.

Daddy: Good girl.

Sub-heading: 4. Stop misbehaviour immediately

Narrator: You have to stop your child’s misbehaviour especially dangerous acts immediately. Then redirect her attention to other interesting activities.

Scene: Daddy stops child immediately when she touches a socket. He takes her away and gives her a toy to play with instead. He also places a socket cover on it.

Sub-heading: 5. Planned ignoring

Narrator: Throwing tantrum or having mild misbehaviour is common in toddlers. They may behave so as to draw your attention or to test whether you would do as you say.

Scene: Different situations with child screaming, casting toy intentionally, lying on the floor whining.

Narrator: You should pay no attention whatsoever to these mild misbehaviours.

Scene: Daddy turns away, neither look at nor respond to the child.

Narrator: Wait till he gradually quiets down himself. Then you can give attention to him again and praise him when appropriate.

Scene: Child gradually stops whining and daddy turns to him, talk to him, wipes his tears and play together.

Narrator: Remember, assertive discipline needs everyone in the family to be firm, consistent and follow through in managing your child’s behaviour.


The following key points are positive ways to manage your child’s behaviour:

  1. Praise Your Child
  2. Set Simple Rules
  3. Guide Your Child to Obey
  4. Correct Dangerous Acts Immediately

To make the above points effective, parents need to implement them persistently and consistently.

Encourage and praise good behaviour

You need to encourage your child’s positive behaviour as well as correcting her undesirable behaviour. For instance, you can praise your child for sitting down or singing in a nice voice. Instead of shouting at your child when she misbehaves, you have to teach her what she should and should not do. Your verbal praises can also be coupled with the following actions:

Smiling at your child
Clapping hands
Giving a thumbs-up

Set simple rules

  • Set simple ground rules for your child including places that should be out of reach for him (e.g. the kitchen). This can help your child follow your instructions and help you manage your child’s behaviour.
  • Use positive terms to set ground rules, e.g. “Finish your meal before you leave the seat”.
  • Set 2 to 5 rules that match with the age and abilities of your child.
  • The rules set should be followed by all caregivers.

Here are some examples of rules that may be set for children of this stage:

  • Sit down when you eat
  • Let mummy/daddy hold your hand when going out
  • Stay in the sitting room when mummy is busy in the kitchen
  • Only adults can turn on the electrical appliances (including TV)
  • Wash hands before eating
  • Place the shoes on the shelf after taking them off……… etc.

If your child disobeys…

Just stay calm and firm when your child does not follow the rules set. You may say “no” to your child with gesture while putting up a firm look on your face with raised eyebrows and your chin down. Here is an example illustrating the steps:

Click on each box below
Child refuses to follow the rule
Say “No” with firm expression
Wait and observe
Child follows
Child does not follow
Praise and engage child by making the activity interesting
Say “No” with firm expression again
Child follows
Child does not
Take child away if situation applies
Engage child by making the activity interesting
  1. When your child refuses to sit down, say ‘No’ with firm expression
  2. Wait and observe
  3. a.If your child follows & returns to seat, praise child and engage her in an interesting activity

    b.If your child does not follow, say ‘No’ with firm expression again

  4. a.If your child follows & returns to seat, praise child and engage her in an interesting activity

    b.If she still does not follow, take her away and back to seat immediately. Divert your child’s attention and guide her to follow instruction

Praise your child if she stops the misbehaviour. Then try to engage her attention to interesting things like talking or playing with her.

However, if your child does not follow what you say, repeat your instruction. If your child still disobeys, take her away from the spot and guide her to follow your instruction. Then divert her attention to something of interest to her. Praise her for following even if she only follows under your guidance.

Correct dangerous acts immediately

You have to stop any dangerous acts of your child immediately and teach him, e.g., “The socket is dangerous. Don’t touch. Come and play with mommy” or “You may fall and hurt yourself if you climb up. Come down and play ball with me”. Then divert his attention to some other interesting and safe activities.

You have to stop any dangerous acts of your child immediately and teach him