Health Column

by Sifu (Dr.) Rikin Patel MD

The foundation of discipline is a trusting relationship that encourages children (and eventually teens and adults) to behave in different situations in an age-appropriate way; recognize, express and manage their emotions; communicate; solve problems and explore the world around them and learn appropriately.

The first approach is known as Connect then Redirect.


As instructors and parents, it is critical to connect with children and teens at an emotional level to build a healthy relationship. Here are some considerations to increase connection and approach challenging behaviours in ways that strengthen relationships:

  • Use “I” statements such as: “I don’t like it when you do that” instead of “What’s wrong with you?” This expresses your feelings and discourages being judgmental.
  • Acknowledge your child or students’ behaviour (“I can see that you are upset”) even when they are misbehaving. It shows them respect.
  • To avoid saying “NO” too often, find other ways to convey what you are trying to communicate. For example, if a child yells, say “Use a quiet voice).
  • Be comforting. Approaching a child at their eye level or below with a gentle nod or touch with an empathetic look can go a long way in creating safety.
  • Be consistent with limit setting. Say what you mean; mean what you say and follow through from your side on what you said you were going to do especially with consequences.


The second part is to do redirect, which works well with young children but can help with older children. Consider the REDIRECT mnemonic:

Reduce the number of words used when disciplining and ensure the message is clear, firm and brief.

Embrace emotions. Acknowledging a child’s feelings is validating to them.

Describe the behaviour you would like to see without lecturing.

Involve your child actively in disciplining.

Reframe a “NO” into a “YES” (with conditions). This is often not possible when safety is an issue however, when possible, tell a child what they can do versus what they cannot do.

Emphasize the positive things a child does. Catch them doing good and tell them. Focusing on the negative behaviour will in fact reinforce that behaviour.

Creatively approach the situation with humour if possible.

Teach your child how to recognize and name feelings like frustration, anger, disappointment. This will help them learn how to deal with strong emotions.

Time In

A second approach is known as a “TIME IN” instead of a time out. In a “time in” you can connect with a child and discuss their feelings and behaviour in a way they can understand. The key is to try and determine what their unmet need may be. Listening will usually go further than arguing. Note that time outs are now considered less effective and should be attempted after these other approaches have been attempted. If trialing a time out be sure to; keep it short, ensure no attention is given to the child and finally create a safe distraction free spot.

Should you have any questions on any of the information provided in these brief articles, feel free to reach out so we can book an appointment to discuss things further.

Also see Approaching Discipline Positively: Part I.