Promoting Positive Behaviour in Children Through Guidance and Discipline

Teaching children to behave appropriately in both social and educational environments can be a challenge for many families. Considering the guidance and discipline approaches can provide you with the tools and understanding to effectively develop positive behaviour in children. In this article, we’ll provide insight into what these strategies are and how you can implement them.

What are Guidance and Discipline in Early Childhood

Guidance and discipline are essential aspects of any child’s growth and learning, aiming to promote positive behaviour and healthy development in children. While guidance refers to the process of directing and supporting children in making appropriate choices, discipline involves teaching children self-control, responsibility, and the consequences of their actions. Together, these approaches help shape children’s behaviour and cultivate essential social skills.

During their early years, children are learning and exploring the world around them, and it is crucial to provide them with consistent guidance and discipline to help promote positive behaviour. Positive guidance emphasises teaching and praising appropriate behaviour rather than punishing or reprimanding children for their negative actions. It focuses on understanding the reasons behind a child’s behaviour and helping them develop problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Discipline strategies in early childhood often include natural and logical consequences. Natural consequences occur as a result of a child’s actions without adult intervention, while logical consequences are directly related to the behaviour and aim to teach a valuable lesson. If a child refuses to share a toy, then they may be asked to play alone for a while.

Positive reinforcement is another effective discipline strategy in early childhood. It involves acknowledging and rewarding positive behaviour through praising a child for their cooperation or effort. By focusing on positive reinforcement, children are motivated to repeat desirable behaviours.

To ensure effective guidance and discipline, Educators, families, and caregivers can aim to maintain consistent rules and have reasonable expectations for their children’s behaviour based on their age and developmental stage. Clear communication, setting limits, and providing a nurturing and supportive environment are all part of guiding and supporting children in their early years.

Similarities and Differences Between Guidance and Disciple

While guidance and discipline share the common goal of promoting positive behaviour and healthy development in children, they differ in their approach and methods. Understanding the similarities and differences between guidance and discipline can help provide you with the tools and understanding to implement effective strategies that support children’s growth and wellbeing.

Guidance is a proactive approach that focuses on teaching and modelling desired behaviour. It might involve setting clear expectations, providing positive reinforcement, and offering redirection when necessary. By nurturing children’s understanding and internalisation of appropriate actions, guidance aims to prevent misbehaviour and create a supportive learning environment.

Discipline is a corrective approach that addresses misbehaviour through consequences. It involves enforcing rules and regulations, implementing time-outs, loss of privileges, or logical consequences that directly relate to the misbehaviour. Discipline aims to teach children the consequences of their actions while promoting self-discipline.

While guidance emphasises nurturing and teaching, discipline centres around corrective actions and consequences, and both are important components of helping a child grow, learn, and develop. Finding a balance between the two helps families and Educators create a supportive environment that promotes children’s wellbeing, and the development of positive behaviours. You can adopt a comprehensive approach that combines guidance and discipline techniques in a way that work for you to foster your child’s social-emotional development.


Focus on Positive Behaviour

Both guidance and discipline place emphasis on the importance of promoting positive behaviour in children. They aim to teach children appropriate social skills, self-control, and responsibility. Through their focus on positive behaviour, both approaches seek to reinforce desirable actions and encourage children to make good choices.

In practice, this similarity is reflected in the use of positive reinforcement. Both guidance and discipline strategies involve acknowledging and rewarding positive behaviour, cultivating a positive and supportive environment that nurtures children’s emotional wellbeing and fosters their social development. By highlighting and reinforcing positive behaviour, children feel encouraged and empowered to make choices that align with pro-social behaviours.

Setting Clear Expectations

Another commonality between these two approaches is the establishment of clear expectations for children’s behaviour. They recognise the importance of consistent rules and boundaries in providing children with a sense of structure and security.

Setting clear expectations involves communicating and explaining the rules and boundaries to children in an age-appropriate manner. Families and Educators can engage children in discussions, implement the use of visual aids, or create simple rules charts to help them understand and remember their expectations.

Through developing an understanding of their expectations, children are able to associate consequences and reinforcement more positively with their actions. They provide an understanding that allows children to develop self-regulation skills and make informed choices about their behaviour.

Teaching Consequences

These approaches both work to demonstrate recognition for importance actions leading to consequences. They aim to help children understand the impact of their behaviour on themselves and on others.

Teaching consequences involves providing children with the opportunity to experience natural or logical consequences related to their actions. If a child refuses to wear a coat on a chilly day, the natural consequence might be feeling cold. The logical consequence could be explaining that they will need to bring the coat along and decide when they feel ready to put it on.

Providing children with an understanding of consequences can help them develop an understanding of cause and effect while encouraging them to take responsibility for their actions. By experiencing the consequences of their behaviour, children learn to make informed decisions and consider the potential outcomes before choosing to act in a certain way.

Benefits of the Guidance Approach

The guidance approach in early childhood emphasises positive behaviour reinforcement, teaching appropriate skills, and modelling desirable actions. This approach offers several benefits that contribute to children’s healthy development and overall wellbeing. By prioritising guidance over strict discipline, caregivers and Educators can create a nurturing environment that supports children’s social-emotional growth.

It Promotes Positive Self-Image and Emotional Wellbeing

The guidance approach focuses on building children’s self-esteem and promoting positive self-image. Through the use of positive reinforcement and emphasising the strengths and abilities of children, this approach helps them develop a sense of confidence and self-worth.

You can provide specific praise and recognition for children’s efforts and accomplishments, which boosts their self-confidence. By fostering positive self-image with positive behaviours, children are more likely to engage in appropriate actions and develop a positive outlook on themselves and their abilities.

Developing a strong positive self-image helps support children’s emotional wellbeing and contributes to their overall happiness and mental health. When children have a positive self-image, they are more resilient, better equipped to handle challenges, and have healthier relationships with others.

It Cultivates Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills

The guidance approach prioritises teaching children problem-solving and decision-making skills. Instead of imposing strict rules and punishments, you can encourage your child to think critically and make choices based on their understanding of consequences.

Try to engage children in discussions, ask open-ended questions, and provide opportunities for them to make decisions. These practices help children develop their cognitive skills, learn cause-and-effect relationships, and think independently.

Understanding the effect that the guidance approach has on developing critical thinking skills can help you equip children with essential life skills that they can carry into their future endeavours. By nurturing problem-solving and decision-making abilities, children become more confident in their abilities to navigate challenges and make informed choices.

It Helps Builds Positive Relationships and Social Skills

The guidance approach emphasises fostering positive relationships between children, families, and Educators. By promoting cooperation, empathy, and respect, this approach creates a supportive social environment where children can thrive.

You can try to encourage your child to communicate effectively, share resources, and resolve conflicts peacefully. Practice modelling positive social behaviours and provide opportunities for children to interact and collaborate with their peers.

Building positive social habits in your child through the guidance approach can help children develop strong social skills and build healthy relationships. By learning to communicate, cooperate, and empathise with others, children develop essential social competencies that contribute to their overall wellbeing and success in various social settings.

Where Does Discipline Fit In?

While the discipline approach is generally not as effective as guidance, it can be used when safety is at risk or when there is repeated inappropriate behaviour despite the use of guidance. It establishes boundaries, teaches responsibility, and supports healthy development.

Discipline teaches children about consequences and helps them make responsible choices. Combining discipline with the guidance approach provides a comprehensive strategy for promoting positive behaviour. Communication, consistency, and understanding individual needs are essential in effective discipline strategies.

Positive Guidance and Discipline Strategies

Positive guidance and discipline strategies are crucial in early childhood education to promote positive behaviour and create a supportive learning environment. These strategies focus on reinforcing positive actions, redirecting inappropriate behaviours, setting clear expectations, and providing reflective time-ins.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement rewards and acknowledges positive behaviours, motivating children to continue displaying them. It works by boosting self-esteem and reinforcing the connection between behaviour and positive outcomes.

When to use: Use positive reinforcement to encourage behaviours like sharing, following instructions, and kindness.

In practice: Offer verbal praise or small rewards, like stickers. Be specific in praising the behaviour and gradually shift from tangible rewards to verbal praise.


Redirection guides children towards more appropriate behaviours by diverting their attention or offering alternative activities.

When to use: Employ redirection for disruptive, unsafe, or developmentally inappropriate behaviours.

In practice: Provide new activities or tasks to shift their focus. Anticipate triggers and offer choices within the redirection.

Clear Expectations and Rules

Setting clear expectations and rules helps children understand boundaries and promotes self-control.

When to use: Establish clear expectations and rules from the beginning and consistently reinforce them.

In practice: Communicate expectations using simple language and visual cues. Explain the reasons behind the rules and involve children in their creation.