Child Discipline -5 Golden Rules that Actually Work !

Are you on the verge of breaking down, trying to manage your child’s tantrums? Are you wondering whether child discipline is a real thing? The meaning of discipline is ‘to teach’. However, discipline is often confused with punishment. Punishment makes children suffer, not learn. It does not teach children self-control. Punishment teaches them that adults can and will control their behaviour for them. So let’s learn to discipline our children without the use of corporal punishment.

Here are the five golden rules of child discipline that actually work

Discipline rule 1Think about feelings

Yes. Think about the feelings that are driving the behaviour. For example, sometimes younger children bang objects, scream and make a mess when they are seeking the attention of their parents. That’s because they want your undivided attention (yeah, you look at your smartphone while talking to your child? Well that’s the culprit). So the feeling of getting your affection may be driving their ‘naughty’ behaviour. Your older child or teenager may get into the habit of telling lies to you because of he/she never received acceptance from you for anything they did (check whether your answer is always a ‘no’ for their demands, or you tend to get angry for every small mistake of your child). Is it possible to get your child to listen to you? Yes. Positive parenting for discipline does the trick.

Discipline rule 2Ask questions

Asking questions helps the children to relate to right behaviour. So rather than you stating how they are going wrong, let them say it themselves. Let’s look at an example-

Wrong method

ParentYou have been watching TV for a long time now. Switch it off.

ChildNo response

ParentYou are never so interested in studies. If you study this long, you would do better in school.

ChildYou always talk like that to me. (angry)

ParentHow many times do I have to tell you to switch off the TV?

(Turns off the TV) Get up right now and start studying.

Right method

ParentWhat are you doing?

ChildWatching TV

Parent What are you supposed to do at this time?


ParentCan I expect you to do what you are supposed to?

ChildLet this programme finish.

Parent– Right now, please. (Turns off the TV)

In the first method, the parent keeps on reinforcing the fact that the child loves to watch TV more than studying. The interaction is argumentative and may worsen the child’s behaviour.

In the second method, the parent is helping the child to interact and state what is the right thing to do at that time. The parent’s behaviour is firm (turns off the TV),  yet polite. Thus, the child won’t be offended and may co-operate in doing what is right.

Discipline rule 3Teach skills

Teaching skills make child discipline actually work. Simple skills include taking turns, using the three golden words(Please, Thank you, Sorry), counting 1 to 10 when angry to calm down, asking for help when needed etc. These are life skills which need to be taught to children through your own example and talking about it when you spend quality time with them. These skills will help them not only in their childhood but throughout their encounter with various situations in life.

Discipline rule 4Repeat rules, commands, and expectations

The brain needs repetition in order to encourage the formation of good habits and encourage discipline. Rules give structure and order. Children and adolescents need plenty of structure. Put up a family rules poster (make it together) in the living room, or simply remind your children of the family rules that they are supposed to follow. Make sure you follow them too. Tell your child what he /she is supposed to do or is expected to behave in a particular situation, rather than scolding him/her for not doing it later. For example, greeting the guests, not banging the door shut, cleaning their own mess /room, switching off the lights, fans when not required. Be firm, but polite when reprimanding your child of wrongdoings. If your child is a teenager, tell in advance, the time to be back home in the evening, the limit of using mobile phones at night etc. rather than admonishing them later.

Discipline rule 5 Give positive reinforcement

Praise children often in big and little ways. Simple phrases can be used to praise your child. For example-

Awesome job

You did it. I knew you would.

Thanks. I appreciate it.

I’m impressed.

Good job

Great going.

Positive words have a positive influence on the mind. Rather than saying ‘Don’t talk back’, you can say ‘I expect you to talk respectfully’ or ‘be on time’ instead of ‘don’t be late’.

Keep a little note in your child’s lunch box or hide a note or letter under the pillow of your teenager stating how pleased you were with a certain positive behaviour. Children and teens are sensitive to adult perceptions of them. A little praise can work wonders in motivating them to behave well.

Why is child discipline important?

Child Discipline is the foundation upon which all success is built.Lack of discipline inevitably leads to failure.

-Jim Rohn

  • Discipline helps the child to regulate his/her behaviour.
  • Discipline helps to enhance his or her cognitive, social, emotional and functioning skills.
  • Child discipline helps to keep kids safe. When the parent communicates the risk involved in harmful behaviour, for instance, jumping off heights, it can save the child from potential harm.
  • Discipline helps the child to manage anxiety.
  • Discipline helps children to make good choices.

As per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) statement on ‘ Effective discipline to raise healthy children‘, spanking and harsh words are a’ no-no’ for child discipline.

The highlights of the statement are-

  • Optimal child development is the result of positive and active engagement of adults who, teach children about acceptable behaviour.
  • A small study published in 2014, used voice recordings to explore parent-child interactions during daily activities. The recordings of 15 of the 33 families in the study (45%) included the use of corporal punishment. Most parents used a verbal disciplinary strategy before corporal punishment. Corporal punishment then occurred at a mean of 30 seconds later, suggesting that parents may have been “responding either impulsively or emotionally rather than instrumentally and intentionally.” The effects of corporal punishment were transient: within 10 minutes, most children (73%) had resumed the same behaviour for which they had been punished.
  • Evidence obtained from a longitudinal cohort study suggested that corporal punishment for toddlers was associated with subsequent aggressive behaviour.
  • Corporal punishment is associated with an increased risk of mental health disorders and cognition problems.

Well, child discipline is a herculean task. To get your child to behave right, a little bit of love and understanding can work much better than corporal punishments. Yes, parenting is not easy but positive parenting is not optional too. It is a necessity in today’s modern and sometimes negative world. Try to understand what is going on in your child’s mind and the rest will be fine.

Which golden rule works for you and which doesn’t? Do let us know in the comments.

Happy parenting!!!

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