Why Soliciting Good Intentions is Necessary in Discipline

Soliciting your child's good intentions is essential in order to engage them in good behavior. Find out more in the following article.
Why Soliciting Good Intentions is Necessary in Discipline

Last update: 22 June, 2021

Many parents wonder what they can do to get their children to behave well. Discipline strategies, generally, aim at what to do at that moment and, usually, after a child has blown up and things have gone wrong. That’s why soliciting good intentions is necessary.

In this regard, there’s a particular discipline strategy that doesn’t require waiting for an incident to occur. It takes a more proactive approach to deal with problem behavior and takes into account a child’s developmental and relational needs.

Soliciting your child’s good intentions

The goal of the discipline of good intentions is to work through parenting issues regarding behaviors where emotions and situations become complicated. Soliciting good intentions means a parent uses their discipline with a child to help steer the child’s behavior in the right direction.

A father and son lying on the floor looking into one another's eyes.

This takes place before the challenges arise and means that adults should take a proactive stance in order to anticipate incidents. While it’s impossible to predict every problem that may develop with children, adults, in general, are aware of what their children will find most challenging.

When a parent solicits their child’s good intentions, they’re trying to get their child on the right side before incidents take place. This gives little ones the opportunity to agree to behave in a certain way before a situation occurs.

How do you use soliciting good intentions as a discipline technique?

For example, if you’re going out with your children on a field trip, you can say, ahead of time, something such as, “The museum’s a big place and I need to know where you are at all times. Can I count on you to hold my hand and be by my side while we’re there?”

If you go with your children to the park, you can ask them something along the lines of, “Can I count on you to come with me when it’s time to leave the park and not run away and say you don’t want to leave? We’ll stay as long as we can at the park, but when we’ve got to leave, I’ll need you to come quickly. Do you understand?”

It’s possible that, afterward, the children may forget and resist a bit. But once you remind them of their promise of good intentions, they’ll usually calm down, stop resisting, and become more cooperative. They’ll feel involved in the decision being made and participate in it.

Soliciting good intentions helps prevent conflict

When you use the discipline technique of good intentions in advance, it can ease the transition between events and involves less friction in your relationship with your children (at any age). This type of discipline is a tool that you can use all the time, no matter what age your children are.

You can use it most often when you need to get ahead of issues that might be contentious, such as buying a toy for a friend at the toy store to prevent your child from wanting a gift for him or herself as well.

You can also ask them if you can count on them to clean their bedrooms without you having to continually ask them to do it. This will save you a lot of resistance and frustration.

The benefits of discipline

There are a number of developmental benefits for a child when adults solicit their good intentions. This action naturally imparts parental values and orients children toward what parents consider to be civilized behavior. It also puts the little one’s hands on the wheel when it comes to their own actions; children understand that they’re responsible for their own actions at all times.

A family enjoying a meal.

In addition, when a child commits and complies, they’ll avoid punishments, constant requests, or negative consequences for their actions.

This type of discipline tool also helps to preserve the relationship between parents and children and prevents power struggles in moments loaded with intense emotions in which the patience of both parties can quickly run out. You need to be aware, as parents, that you don’t have to wait for a child to make a mistake to guide them in the right direction.

Another benefit is that this is about intentions and not perfection. It leaves a lot of room for a child to choose the right path, even if it’s not always what they want, but they’ll know it’s the right thing to do.

It’s also an effective discipline strategy that can be used in place of consequences because it invites children to think twice before acting.

No need for harsh discipline

We know that young children generally lack self-control until the ages of between five and seven, on average, when their brains have become more developed. Until this time, they move instinctively and emotional outbursts are common.

When we solicit an infant’s good intentions, we rely on our relationship with them to get them on our side. This will help us avoid using overly harsh discipline techniques in order to achieve compliance. If a child isn’t properly attached to the adult, the ability to point them in a particular direction is weak or even non-existent.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Alzina, R. B. (2003). Educación emocional y competencias básicas para la vida. Revista de investigación educativa, 21(1), 7-43. https://revistas.um.es/rie/article/view/99071
  • Bisquerra, R. (2011). Educación emocional. Propuestas para educadores y familias. Bilbao: Desclée de Brower.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.