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How to Discipline Children Effectively

Updated on June 27, 2012

Disciplining children

Have you seen a kid rolling on the floor of a store throwing a tantrum to get his favourite toy? The look on his parent's face would tell you a story of embarrassment and shame. Disciplining kids has always been the difficult part of parenting. Parents find it difficult to draw the line between being harsh and disciplining. The extreme views society has taken over the years towards disciplining children has left parents confused and undecided about the line to tow when it comes to disciplining children. The common complaint about this generation is that our kids have never been disciplined. If this is the current scenario how then do we discipline our children effectively?

Disciplining Children
Disciplining Children | Source

Ways to Discipline Children

Discipline is often confused with reward, punishment and bribery all of which are ideally speaking, not effective ways to discipline your child. Discipline is about teaching children to behave responsibly. A temper tantrum in public often causes feeling of embarrassment on the part of parents, which could turn into anger or helplessness. Oftentimes, to get children to behave, parents resort to bribing or giving the child whatever he or she wants, just to save face. Parents also resort to bribing their children to get their homework done or score well in subjects, believing that they are motivating their child to perform better.

Disciplining Children

How to Discipline your Child - Does Bribing Work?

  • Bribing does not teach children to be responsible; on the other hand, it teaches them that, it is rewarding to embarrass parents.
  • Makes the child believe that he or she is not capable of doing it on his or her own work and he/she need to stretch harder to achieve what is expected.
  • It encourages children to believe that they need to be paid to discharge their responsibility.
  • It also gives children the feeling that they are not required to do anything for themselves. Parents are responsible for their behaviour.

Bribing is an act in which parents relinquish their authority and resort to bartering with their child to get the kind of behaviour they expect. When parents relinquish this responsibility, children take the authority to decide what is good for them. Guiding children is important not only from the social point of view but also from the developmental point of view. Even if your child is a teenager or an adolescent, he or she is not ready to take the right decisions on their own, purely because your child’s brain is not fully developed until the age of 25. Studies show that areas such as reasoning and decision-making are not fully developed until this age. Constant guidance helps the child know his or her boundaries.

How not to discipline children
How not to discipline children | Source

Effective discipline for children

  • It teaches children what is right more than telling them what is wrong.
  • Effective disciplining ensures that there is less punishment.
  • Disciplining teaches the child the importance of self-control.
  • It helps build your child’s self-esteem and feeling of self-confidence.
  • It also teaches children to work within prescribed limits and still enjoy themselves while bribery sows in them seeds of unhappiness for a lifetime.

Which methods of disciplining do you think works best with your child?

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At the workplace, you would find that the younger generation is constantly complaining about any form of authority and discipline. They seem to talk more about rights than responsibilities. The idea of hard work has been replaced with an idea of entitlement. We have a workforce that believes that they are entitled to perks, rewards and raises without having to work for it. Do you believe that the lack of discipline could be at the root of this malady?

The idea of the carrot and the stick has been taken too far, our children seem more attuned to rewards and punishments. Rewarding children for good behaviour is not the same as bribing. The two have often been confused and misconstrued. Rewards should ideally follow spontaneous good behaviour. When your child makes up his bed or cleans up his room without you having to remind him is good behaviour that needs to be encouraged. Another important way to make rewards effective is to pair them with verbal appreciation that clearly spells out the reason for the reward.

Methods that Help Increase Appropriate Behavior

Speak positively about your child to others, focusing on the effort your child puts in to improve himself/herself.

Pay attention and make a big deal about appropriate behavior.

Be your child's role model.

Keep your child interested in other things when you anticipate inappropriate behavior.

Focus on positive behavior rather than on negative behavior.

Do not embarrass your child in front of others.

Positive Discipline for Children

The appreciation needs to be focused on the effort and the sense of responsibility that the child shows instead of how good the child is. Praising children for being smart, good or intelligent often backfires. Prof Carols Dweck who has extensively studied the role of praising children says that it is the that needs to be praised. When you praise children for the effort, they are motivated to work harder and acquire more skills which could take them towards self-dependence. Praising children for being smart or intelligent only gives them a label to defend. It also prevents them from venturing out of their comfort zones to learn new skills for the fear of losing their labels. Rewarding should be motivating to a child and should not become an impediment to the child’s growth.

Punishment, especially verbal or physical abuse could scar children for life. However, it does not serve to teach them what is wrong and right. Children tend to internalise punishment particularly when they do not understand why they are being punished. Such punishment aids to destroy the self-esteem in your child, especially those that humiliate the child publicly can maim them for life. Focus on positive behavior and ignore small negative ones.

Setting limits and ensuring that your child understands them is much more effective in disciplining children. Setting limits also helps children to think creatively and work within the set parameters thus learning problem solving in their own small way. It also teaches them to respect their personal space and those of the others. Setting limits and curfews should be explained in a way in which the child understands it. The child needs to know that crossing the limit puts others into difficulty for example, when your child does not come to the table in time for dinner, you are obliged to wait, keep the food warm and thereby have to rush around with your work or even worse waste time unproductively. This method works well while disciplining adolescents and teenagers.

Enforce consequences of breaking the rules. Let your child go without dinner if he/she is not present in time for dinner.

Children learn mainly by imitation. The use of violence, bad language and inconsiderate behaviour is often copied and reproduced to hurt and inflict pain on their peers. Be your child's role model.

Using effective disciplining methods helps you to keep your emotions in check while teaching your child to do the same. Proper disciplining prepares your child for adulthood and the responsibilities that come with it. Being good to your child does not mean that you do everything and deprive your child of opportunities to learn social and everyday skills, which they need as individuals. Discipline does not have to bring up those negative images that have been associated with it. Remember when you discipline your child you help him or her to be a better person.


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    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Ruby, thanks you for dropping by. It is always a pleasure to hear from you. Have a wonderful day.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Teaches12345, Thank you. That comment means a lot to me and is greatly appreciated. Have a lovely day.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Effective disciplining is the only way to go...Great hub,,

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      Another excellent hub! I am one that opts for positive discipline that guides and motivates to make good choices. I know many parents/teachers will learn much from this article. Well done!

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks franticsharpie, I appreciate it very much. Have a lovely day.

    • franticsharpie profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow, extremely useful. Great hub. Thanks for posting it.


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