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Tips on Discipline

David B. Seaburn, PhD

  1. Threats don’t work; they teach your child that you don’t mean what you say.
  2. Discipline when you are calm; don’t be reactive; be planful.
  3. Don’t over do it; long disciplines (you’re grounded until next year!) usually lead to more battles and conflict.
  4. Children who can engage you in ongoing discussion (or arguments) about a behavior often win (and don’t face consequences!).
  5. Be sure that you can be in charge of the discipline; do not expect your child to discipline themselves (“Before I get home I want you to have all the chores done.”)
  6. Shorter, clearer more well defined discipline often works better because your child learns that you mean it and you can do it.
  7. Problem behaviors that are repeated need a plan; tell your child what the plan is before you institute it; the plan should include: Target behavior; expected behavior; consequence and how it will be delivered; reward (non-monetary if possible) if your child is successful.
  8. If there are 2 parents or parental figures in the house, it helps if they are in agreement; two parents who agree are stronger than any one child; one child is stronger than two parents that disagree.
  9. If parents don’t agree, make a different plan; or, agree that one will take the lead and the other won’t interfere.
  10. Parents who disagree in front of their children are teaching their children that they don’t have to pay attention to either parent (or other adults).
  11. Research shows that corporal punishment runs the risk of increasing behavior problems as the child gets older.
  12. Children need parents who are friendly, not parents who are their friends.
  13. Giving children responsibilities rather than punishments helps them mature.