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Positive Discipline Strategies: Practical Strategies for Peaceful Parenting

Ask The Experts by Susan Radzilowski

Q:  I feel like all I do is yell at my kids without results. I’m not sure how to get them to listen to me otherwise. Can you help?


A: This is a common parental issue – and many parents would rather not yell all the time. There are ways to change. Learning to use positive discipline strategies when your child’s behavior is a concern can help transform problem behaviors into teachable moments. Your child will learn improved problem solving and enhanced communication skills and self-regulation. He or she will begin to develop an age appropriate ability to analyze situations and appropriately communicate their feelings and needs (as opposed to acting out.)

A guiding principle of this framework is to remember that all behavior has meaning and happens within a context. It is used for many purposes and not all of these purposes occur at the conscious level. The younger the child, the more likely behaviors are occurring at the preconscious level.

Two very effective positive parenting strategies you can employ immediately are:
  • Redirection: Children who hear “No!” or “Don’t!” all the time tend to tune those directives out. Instead of those negative words, why not try to redirect your child by offering a positive behavior to replace the misbehavior? For instance, a child acting up at the grocery store could be asked to help pick out fruit or sort items in the grocery cart.

  • The Broken Record: The parent responds to negative behavior with a very simple and calm statement. As the child continues the negative behavior, the parent simply repeats the exact same statement in the same intonation. The parent remains calm and consistent, like a broken record.



Susan Radzilowski, MSW, LMSW, ACSW, works with the Detroit Institute for Children assigned to Matrix Head Start serving children and families from birth to age 5. She has over 25 years of experience as a school social worker with the Detroit Public Schools. Her professional focus also includes parent support, grief counseling, crisis intervention, and LGBT issues.

Susan can be reached at susan.radzilowski@detroitchildren.org. The Detroit Institute for Children is a member of The Family Center’s Association of Professionals.


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