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How to discipline a child - effective techniques for disciplining children

Updated on January 27, 2014

I've seen it many times: a parent who is inevitably controlled by their offspring. The child says "jump" and the parent says "how high?". And honestly, it sickens me. I can't conceive how the child controls every single thing in the family, from what they will eat to how family time will be spent.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything wrong with the child. I deeply and truly believe the problem resides with the parents. It seems that today's parents lack the guts to tell their children what to do, even if it's for their own benefit. Or they hide behind a wall of sentimentalism, stating that their children are just too little to understand. Blah, blah, blah! I've seen and heard many parents that, with the best of intentions, let their children become tiny, little brats that no one likes. And then they wonder why no one ever invites them to dinner!

I wrote this article in an effort to make parents understand that children do understand, and respond well to well-balanced discipline. I'm not talking about spanking or anything of the sort. I'm just talking about setting limits for your kids and letting them experience the consequences of their actions.

A story on effective child discipline

When I was a child, I refused to let my mom touch my long hair with any sort of grooming instrument. I refused to let her braid my hair, or even to pick it up in a ponytail. As a result, I always looked like a homeless child (minus the dirty clothes). Every time mom made the slightest attempt at fixing my hair, I would throw great, big tantrums that even the neighbors were sure to hear.

Tired of this nonsense, mom gave me an ultimatum: "Either you let me brush your hair, or I will cut it as short as your brother's hair."

As sad and scary as that threat sounded, I decided to try my luck and still refused to let any comb or brush touch my tangled hair. Mom said: "Okay, you made your choice. Tomorrow morning we are getting your hair cut."

I thought this was nothing but an empty threat, and went off to play with my toys, confident that nothing out of the ordinary would happen the next morning.

Next morning, while still eating my breakfast mom said: "Get ready. Its time." She said it with such a sweet voice that anyone out of the context would have thought that she was talking about buying ice cream. I thought we were buying ice cream. "Time for what?" I replied. Then it hit me. Before she opened her mouth to remind me of the foolish, foolish choice I had made the day before, I knew what she was talking about. Thoughts rushed inside my mind. "She can't be serious! She often talks about how beautiful my long hair is, she would be crazy to cut it short!"

To my surprise she was serious. Dead serious. She helped me into the car, because of course I wasn't going down without a fight. I threw the biggest tantrum my little body could muster. But she wasn't backing up. Once we were parked in the hair salon parking lot, she spoke to me in a very serious, but calm voice. She said: "Yesterday I gave you the opportunity to keep your hair long. You decided to cut it by refusing to let me brush it. If you don't let the lady cut your hair, I will cut the hair myself, and it won't look pretty. Also, I will give your favorite puzzle to your cousin."

Now I knew mom wasn't playing. Her threats were real. Even though I was just a child, I knew better than to make another foolish choice. I had given up my hair, but I wasn't about to give up my favorite puzzle. I walked out of the car, with as much dignity as a five year old can have, feeling as if I was walking to my doom.

In less than 15 minutes my hair was gone. My head felt lighter, but my brain felt heavier. My young brain now had a new lesson in file. The lesson was Mom is the boss. If there was any intelligence left in my head, I would play it safe and would not mess with mom's authority, because now I knew she meant business.

Asserting your authority as a parent

The moral of the story? Let your child know who is in charge. Children are super smart, little creatures who learn to manipulate their parents from a very early age. They are never too young to learn that mommy and daddy should be the ones running the show. Following these simple tips will give you an idea of how to assert your God given authority as a parent.

Never let tantrums open any doors for your child

If a tantrum gets the child what she wants, she will soon learn that's the way to ask for things. Soon, she will be tantrumming for everything, and you will be crying sour, sour tears.

Don't use empty threats

If you threaten your child with the loss of a certain preferred privilege or anything of the kind, make sure you follow through. I can't emphasize this enough. When empty threats are given, the child soon learns that you're a weak authority figure and will stop listening to you faster than the road runner outsmarts wily coyote. The child has to know that you will follow through in each and every situation. This will teach your child to know that you are someone that must be taken seriously and not to mess with you.

Never use an angry or loud voice

It is important that your child hears that you have control of the situation, and the best way to show it is by showing self control. This includes controlling your voice tone and volume. When your child sees your calm manner, she will know that everything is under control; your control. At the same time you will be teaching your child to exercise self control as well. When she grows older she will also have a clear idea of what self control looks like.

Don't give in

When you see that cute little face, and those adorable puppy eyes, it's easy to say: "Okay, you can go, but don't do it again." And just like that your child has learned a new lesson: mommy and daddy can be easily manipulated. Once you have stated a consequence for his wrong doing, follow through, even if it's hard to say no to that cute, little face. Even if they promise they'll be good for the rest of their lives. (That usually never turns out to be true). Once again, remain firm and stand by your word.


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    • Silver Q profile image

      Silver Q 4 years ago

      Hi Felisa Daskeo!

      Yes, I have also noticed that about today's kids, which makes it all the more important for parents to remain firm and in control of the situation.

      Thank you for commenting and for reading!

    • Felisa Daskeo profile image

      Felisa Daskeo 4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      You said it all correctly! Yes, parents have soft heart and the children can see that. Kids today are different, they know what they are doing. They know that whatever they want; they can get it because they know how to manipulate their parents. I agree that parents must not give in and they must stay firm with their decision.