20. Positive discipline tool: Use the energy

Posted under 30 Days of Awesome Parenting, Make



(read about the adventure here)

positive discipline

Tip 20: Positive discipline tool-

Use the energy


If there is one thing I’m not a fan of in normal school, preschool and kindergarten settings, it is the idea that disciplining children should involve a ‘time out’.  I’m not quite sure how ‘disciplining’ a child in this way actually teaches them anything except to sit and seethe at a bigger person who has power over them. I’m not sure that a young child actually gains anything from a time to sit and think about their actions…other than to calm down eventually… but for many children, this takes a long time and can be pretty upsetting to watch or be a part of. Having an already agitated or upset child kick and scream as you struggle to get them to their time-out spot is no fun at all. A time out usually means ‘sit on a chair/floor/cushion quietly’ which, when you think about it, is like asking an astronaut to defy the laws of weightlessness and space, and stay in the one place. It is almost impossible, especially if you are 3 or 4 or 5 years of age, and are only just gaining control of your emotions and your body, and are learning to self-regulate. Even more so when you think of the likely behaviour that instigated this punishment – calm, quiet children don’t get put in time-out.

So, if that is not the answer, what is?

Perhaps it is the idea that we USE the excess energy, rather than try to force it into unnatural states.

So the question is HOW can we use the excess energy of a young child in a way that supports them, and also allows us the opportunity to calm down (if we need), be centred, take a breath, and get our jobs done?  Simple. We find them things to do that use up the energy quickly and easily.

I share plenty of ideas in my book for home settings (many of which translate to school settings too) and I don’t want to double up so I’ll give you a few new starters…

1.  Wash the car.  Bubbles, warm water, suds… who can stay cross and grumpy for long with that kind of energetic fun? I bet the mood and tantrum will be broken in an instant.

2. Scrub…potatoes, the high chair, the coffee table, the outside of the washing machine.  Scrubbing requires vigorous action and focused attention.  Give them a coarse sponge (in itself a sensory experience that allows them to feel the limits and become aware once again of their physical body, helping to ground them back to earth after a tantrum) and a dish of soapy water and set them to task. Have a towel handy to wipe up the spills.

3.  Your own child might respond to being wrapped in a big blanket ‘bear hug’ and being rocked and rolled, backwards and forwards. This ‘bear hug’ game is another sensory support tool that helps them step back inside their body when all hell has broken loose and they are no longer in control of their emotions. Of course, just be sure to keep their face and head clear of the covering. You might like to make up a growly grizzly bear song to go with this game too.



Come up with three new ‘energy movers’ of your own.  Write them down in your 30 days of AWESOME journal so you remember them.


Action required:

Try one of your chosen ‘energy movers’ the next time you are faced with a challenging situation.  See for yourself what works for your children, what doesn’t, and what you might change.


Commit to the task by writing it down here in the comments below or in your 30 days of AWESOME journal. 


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