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Positive Discipline Reduces Stress

Using positive discipline when you communicate is the best way to get others to do what you want. If you’re natural inclination is to say, “No, don’t do that,” you’re actually creating more stress. There is a better, more positive way, to discipline.

Allow me to explain the reason that using the negative is ineffective.

Think of your last dream—not that you remember it, but think of how your brain envisioned it. Did you dream in words—or in pictures, illusions, or images? The brain thinks visually, not verbally. Simply stated, the brain does not think in words; it visualizes. This is the reason that using negatives is ineffective and why using positive discipline is so much better.

When people tell others what NOT to do, what follows the “don’t” is what the brain sees. You can reduce your stress by following this simple adage: Communicate what you WANT, rather than what you don’t want. What you don’t want is negative. What you do want is positive.

I was in an airport waiting room and saw a youngster try to run down the passenger boarding bridge connected to the airplane. The security guard stopped the youngster and said, “Don’t go there.” I was amused because I figured what would happen in a few minutes. Sure enough, the youngster tried it again. How did I anticipate this? Simple! People don’t visualize, “DON’T.” They visualize what they hear after the negative—in that situation, the kid visualized “Go there.”

You may be familiar with counterwill, the natural human tendency to resist coercion of any kind. You see it in the “terrible twos” and in “teen rebellion” where the drive for independence is so powerful. These are just two common examples of young people intentionally doing the opposite of what they are told to do.

An antidote to counterwill is to be positive in communications, rather than negative. In other words, use positive discipline. Simply state or promote what you WANT—rather than what you don’t want.

“Don’t run in the hall” becomes “We walk in our hallway.”

“Stop that” becomes “Is there a better way?”

“Don’t call your brother names” becomes “How can you address your brother so he doesn’t get angry?”

Tip: Always talk to people what you WANT rather than what you don’t want to become more effective and reduce stress for everyone involved.

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Dr. Marvin (Marv) Marshall
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