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6 positive (and effective) discipline strategies teachers swear by

These are the strategies teachers use to help kids listen, learn and grow. ❤️

positive discipline strategies from teachers

It happens to all parents, even those of us professionally trained in child behavior. One moment our kid is smiling and adorable and then—in an instant—that sweet little Honey Bear morphs into a wild Honey Badger. Just about every child on the planet will portray "spirited" or strong-willed behavior from time to time, mine included. Remember that a child having a rough moment does not mean that they are a bad kid, or that you are a bad parent.

It's normal for parents to feel worn down from the negotiating, arguing and scolding that sometimes comes with kids. If you are also in this good company, try these evidence-based behavioral strategies utilized in classrooms by teachers like myself around the world, adapted for parental use at home.

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The positive discipline strategies teachers use to help kids listen, learn and grow:

1. Be proactive, not reactive

As adults, it's easy to assume that our kids just know certain rules, especially ones that seem like common sense. But if we've never clearly stated an expectation, kids may not be aware. From birth to age three, a child's brain develops so rapidly that it produces over a million neural connections every second. They are intaking so much stimulus that sometimes you are going to have to explain things that may seem like a no-brainer.

Rather than being reactive when they make a mistake, try being proactive to try to prevent the mistake before it starts. For example:

Before you give them crayons or markers: "We only color in coloring books or paper we give you. We do not color on walls or furniture."

Before you go to the park (or anywhere they may not want to leave): "I will let you play for as long as we have time, but when I say it's time to go, you listen. If you do that without arguing, we can keep coming back to the park."

2. Use positive reinforcement

Have you ever had a boss that only points out what you did wrong and never acknowledges what you did right? Over time, it's easy to lose the motivation to please. The same goes for kids and adults. Noticing—and praising—when they do something right is a necessary step to making them keep wanting to do the right thing, again and again.

Positive reinforcement doesn't have to mean a present, especially if it's an expected behavior (like not biting the dentist). Verbal praise works just as well. Even a simple "I noticed how you used self-control, even when you were scared. You should be proud of yourself." can be very impactful.

When I notice my kids going above and beyond an expected behavior, that's when I give them a small reward in addition to positive reinforcement.

3. Give logical consequences

The term "logical consequences" is derived from Responsive Classroom, a research-based social curriculum utilized around the world and developed by educators, designed to teach children cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control (C.A.R.E.S.). Logical consequences are just what they sound like—not punishments, but consequences that are directly related to an action.

For example, once an expectation is firmly established that your child is fully aware of, then a consequence may be in order if they don't follow your directions. Kids—and adults—all make mistakes, and consequences are a necessary part of learning. If you give your child the direction, "We only color in coloring books or paper we give you. We do not color on walls or furniture" and they don't follow that direction and color on the walls or the table, then the logical consequences would be taking the crayons away (until an agreed-upon time when they can try again to follow directions), and getting them to help clean up the crayon marks.

A consequence differs from a punishment. A consequence is directly related to an action, while a punishment usually is not. Many kids develop armor and grow immune to punishment, especially if it does not require an action on their part (such as if their punishment is only getting yelled at—all they have to do is tune it out).

It's also important that the logical consequence be something that's actually, well, logical. The purpose of this is to help them learn responsibility for their actions. Kids see through grandiose threats like "I'm giving away ALL your toys FOREVER!" That's a punishment for both of you.

4. Focus on the action, not the person

A logical consequence focuses on a child's behavior, not the child's character. You aren't shaming or berating the child, you are calling out the negative action. For example:

Instead of: "You are so irresponsible."

Try: "What you did was irresponsible. I know that you are better than this. We are going to come up with a way for you to fix it."

5. Avoid giving too many reminders

Even if your consequences are logical, they are meaningless if you never act on them, or only give warnings like "If you do that one more time…" Giving repeated warnings or reminders in place of consequences only demonstrates that they'll get multiple warnings before they really need to stop—and you will turn into a broken record forever.

My rule with my kids is I give them one reminder before I go to consequence. They know that I mean it and don't push it.

Kids learn much faster from logical consequences than from repeated reminders, constant yelling or empty threats. You can usually facilitate the consequence without needing to yell or raise your voice. This teaches them a direct correlation between their action and the consequence, not their action and you.

6. Make power struggles into choices

Kids have minds of their own and may refuse to do what you tell them to (I've got a couple of "strong-willed" kiddos myself).

But keep in mind that the moment you are in a power struggle with your child, you have already lost. The child can sense that you don't have an upper hand, which may make them dig in their heels more. Try tweaking your wording so the responsibility to complete the task is on the child choosing to do so, not you making them.

Instead of: "Pick up those toys RIGHT NOW."

Try: "Your choice is to pick up your toys before this timer goes off, or else you will have another consequence."

If they still choose not to follow directions, matter-of-factly tell them they will have additional consequences, such as a temporary loss of privilege.

As parents, we will all have moments of self-doubt, wondering if we are being too strict or too soft. Every single kid on earth is different, and ultimately, knowing what is effective and healthy for each child is the best thing you can do when it comes to encouraging good behavior.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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