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Positive Discipline

Disciplining your child without spanking or hurting them

Your toddler/preschooler is now experimenting and exploring their world. This may be the time when you realize some positive discipline is needed to keep your child safe.

Positive discipline = Discipline without spanking

Positive Discipline Tips

Positive discipline is when you guide and teach your child in a way that protects and socializes them to have self-control, be independent, and respect themselves and others.  

ExpandKeeping your explanations short

Tell them why they can't do certain activities and redirect them to another safe activity, for example, "I understand you like to jump on the couch, it's not safe. Let's jump on the floor instead".

ExpandPlanning ahead

By planning ahead, you can avoid situations that may lead to difficult behaviour. For example, plan shopping trips when both you and your child are rested and fed.

ExpandSetting limits with love

Two and three year olds can begin to understand limits, so you can start to use some simple rules at this age.

When setting limits:

  • Explain why your answer is "no" and stay calm while redirecting your child to another activity. Your toddler is discovering their own power. When they are told "no" they feel their freedom is being taken away and they may get mad, frustrated or resentful. Tell your child you know they are mad or frustrated.
  • Use positive alternatives. For example, say "walk" instead of "don't run", "wait for your turn or play with this" instead of "no grabbing the toys", or "food goes in your mouth" instead of "don't throw food".
  • Safe proof your home to decrease having to say "no" all the time.


Routines provide a supportive, safe environment for children and promote a healthy social and emotional development.Children learn best when they have consistent and predictable steps in their routines for meals, waking up, bedtime, playtime, etc.   

Video: Routines, Healthy Baby Healthy Brain 


Spanking is not discipline. It is physical punishment and hitting can hurt your child physically, emotionally and socially.

You may be saying to yourself, "I was spanked and I turned out okay." It could be that you turned out okay in spite of being spanked, not because you were spanked.

In the past, parents did the best they could with what they knew. Today, we know a lot more about how children develop. That's why more and more parents are choosing not to spank.

Reasons spanking does not work

  • Your child is more likely to become aggressive. This can lead to other problems, like bullying
  • Your child will fear you rather than respect you. A child who fears a parent may learn to hide behaviour and lie rather than trust that parent to guide and teach.
  • Your child is more likely to think that hitting is a way to solve problems. Spanking doesn't teach the right lesson. Hitting people is wrong.
  • Spanking can lead to injuries.  Spanking may get a quick reaction, but next time you may end up hitting harder. When you're angry and stressed, it's easy to injure your child.


Your child is not out to get you and there may be times when you may feel overwhelmed and nothing seems to work:

  1. Make sure your child is safe
  2. Remain calm
  3. Step away from the situation for a short time
  4. Try deep breathing
  5. If you feel you may lose control call a friend, family member or the distress line 416-408-HELP (4357)