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3 Effective Ways to 'Connect Before Correct'- a Positive Discipline Parenting Tool

One of my favorite Positive Discipline Parenting Tools is Connection Before Correction. This is because research shows that children are more likely to cooperate when they feel a sense of belonging and significance.

I see this every day in my work as a Behavior Specialist for the school district. When a teacher has a student who is struggling behaviorally, we come in to coach the teacher on implementing behavior supports. The first thing we look at is the relationship between the teacher and student. We take inventory of how many positives (connection) the teacher gives the student compared with how many correctives. Often we find the teacher is giving way more correctives than positives. We suggest a ratio of five positives to every corrective.

This same principle can be applied at home. Take count of all your connection-building, encouraging statements and all your corrective statements and shoot for a 5:1 ratio.

Positive Discipline teaches several tools that build connection. One of my favorites is Special

Time. Spending one-on-one quality time with your child shows them how important they are to you and fills their love bucket. The more your child feels loved by you, the more open they will be to your influence and the less misbehavior you will have to handle.

Three effective ways to Connect Before Correct are;

1. Give Hugs.  

Hugs.  So simple and effective!  Hugs (and any form of physical affection) release

oxytocin, a “feel good” neurochemical, into the brain which helps the child calm down

and be more cooperative.


Correction: “I’ve asked you several times to clean up your room.  Do it now!”

Connecting first with a hug:  “Come here, honey (give big hug).  I see trash and dirty

clothes that need to be picked up.  Do you need help or can you handle it alone?

2. Validate Feelings.

Validating feelings can help children learn that feelings are always

OK, but how we act on those feelings is not always OK.  Empathy also helps children feel

understood, which again helps them feel more calm and cooperative.


Correction:   “You cannot take things without asking first!  Give that ball back to your


Connecting first by acknowledging feelings:  “I can tell that you really want to play with

that ball!  And, we have to ask first.  Let’s try again.”

3. Say, “I love you.”  

Start with these three words (spoken in a heartfelt way), and whatever comes next feels softer.


Correction:  “No, you cannot have a brownie before dinner, so stop asking!”

Connecting first with I love you:  “I love you, and the answer is no.”  When delivered

with compassion and kindness, the “no” doesn’t feel quite so bad.

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