‘Tis the season when the kids may be between summertime activities and you might find yourselves without babysitter and childcare at hand. The only thing to do will be to bring your 6-year-old to work that day.
Do not despair! Following the Positive Discipline way, you can create a child-at-the-office day that is not only highly manageable, but that also provides teachable moments for your children that promote understanding, respect, and enhanced communication.

Here are some effective tips to create and maintain a positive workday:

  1. Plan in advance: If you know that your son or daughter will be coming to the office with you next week, start talking to him or her about it in advance. Talk about it excitedly—but with clear and specific expectations in mind. If your child has not been to your office before, describe your workplace and the limitations it may have, talk about what noise levels are and are not acceptable, and what type of behavior is and is not appropriate.
  2. Arrange activities: Discuss with your child about how he or she can spend the day—drawing at dad’s work table, reading a book on the office couch, going out to lunch with mom, visiting with a colleague’s child who will also be at the office that day. Help your child pack a bag with his favorite items: crayons, cards, a few books, a sketch pad, and other easy-to-carry diversions.
  3. Set ground rules: No running up and down the stairs or through the halls. No shouting or interruptions when dad is on the phone or in a meeting. These rules should be articulated during the planning stages of a trip to the office—not the day of—and should be repeated until your child can recite them by heart.
  4. Praise good behavior: Reinforce examples of your child’s etiquette and decorum. “I really am proud how you’re introducing yourself to my colleagues so nicely,” “It was wonderful when you opened the door for Mr. Smith,” “I appreciated how you waited for Mrs. Berg to finish speaking before you asked your question.”
  5. Watch and supervise: If you see signs that your child is on the verge of acting out, nip it in the bud before it escalates into an incident that you and he will both regret.
  6. Ignore minor misbehavior: If you know that your child is engaging in annoying—but minor—misbehavior simply to gain your attention, the best action is no action. Ignore it. When he sees that you are paying him no heed, your child’s misbehavior may vanish.

  7. Use your voice effectively: When providing instructions, counsel, discipline, or warnings, retain a calm, modulated tone. By raising your voice, you are telling your child that he can only get what he wants by yelling.
  8. Use directed discussion: If your child seems to be going off course, ask him if he remembers the ground rules. If not, remind him calmly and allow him to practice what he should have done.
  9. Remove a problem activity: If your child is engaging in an activity that is becoming distracting to you and others, remove the activity promptly. Explain to him simply why it is interfering with business activities and tell him that he can resume it later on—under certain, simply spelled-out conditions.
These are just a few ideas based on the Positive Discipline approach developed by Professor Matthew Sanders of the University of Queensland. Share your own ideas on the Parents Place Facebook page. We would love to know your thoughts and tried-and-tested strategies.