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Family and Parenting - Persuasive Discipline by Carmen Y. Reyes

Family and Parenting - Persuasive Discipline

Persuasive Discipline Using Power Messages and Suggestions to Influence Children Toward Positive Behavior

     Language and communication are the keys to successful discipline. The language patterns a parent or teacher uses when disciplining children influence behavior. When we control the messages we send to children, we control the way children feel and think about our messages; when we control the way children feel and think about our messages, we control their behavior. Carefully chosen words and crafted messages can actively create the mental images and mood needed in children to move them away from noncompliance and oppositional behavior and closer to comply with what we asked them to do. When we persuade children to behave, we control their behavior through language, using influence rather than power and domination. Effective persuasive discipline means that we are able to communicate using just the right words to get the positive outcome we intended. Persuasive discipline contains specific language patterns and ways of talking to children to shift the emotional state of the child so that we influence and promote positive behavioral change.

Persuasion Technique 4: Use More “Start” Messages and Fewer “Stop”


It is easier to start doing something than to stop doing something. Apply this principle when you discipline children; instead of telling the child what to stop doing, tell the child what to start doing. For example, we can turn a statement like, “Stop playing with that toy” into “Please, hand me the toy.” A teacher or parent skilled in persuasive discipline is able to suggest alternative ways of behaving rather than constantly saying, “No” or “Stop that.”

Persuasion Technique 9: Give Choices to the Child 

Providing opportunities to make choices is effective in increasing positive behavior and compliance in children. Try to give the child some freedom of choice; for example, “Either play quietly or go upstairs to play.” According to Schaefer (1994), giving choices to children increase their independence and decision-making skills.

Persuasion Technique 13: 

Buttering Up Schaefer (1994) describes this technique as doing the child a favor in order to make the child feel obligated to return the favor later on; that is; we reward the child in one area before expecting compliance in another area. For example, you excuse the child from doing one of his daily chores and then you tell the child that in return you want him to study one hour longer.

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