What is the Best Way to Discipline Children When They Misbehave?


I saw an article that had a child holding a sign in a parking lot and his dad standing close by with his arms folded. The sign said, “I lied to my dad.” What do you think about this as a punishment?

Mommy Zen™'s tips on child disciplineMommy Zen says: Clearly, I do not know the dad or the situation, but my first reaction is that disciplining can be either strict or permissive or anywhere in between. I do not believe that humiliation is a helpful or effective way to discipline a child.

What humiliation accomplishes is fear and division in the parent child relationship. We want to raise kids to think on their own. We want our kids to trust us and know that we have their best interest at heart. We want to teach them to make wise decisions, not decisions based on fear.

Decisions based on anger or fear are never the most effective. Studies have shown that when you experience strong emotions your IQ goes down. You cannot make the most intelligent decisions with a lowered IQ. So we don’t want to teach this technique to our kids. We want them to think realize for themselves what the natural consequences of a decision are and make the best decisions based on wise, well-reasoned choices. This requires teaching your kid to stay calm, think things through and make a quality decision on what would be best for all involved.

You can do this with a strong bonded relationship, which takes time and attentiveness. Look into his eyes, discuss what the natural consequences would be if he obeys the rule or breaks the rule. Take the time to explain your thought process and get him to explore his thought process.

Many times parents cry out, in exasperation, “What were you thinking?!” And truly your children may not know; but it is helpful to encourage them to think through their choices and potential consequences. This may not always be practical at the moment, but you can have this chat after everyone is calm.

It is important to always convey love to a child, and that you believe in him and expect the best from him and for him. It’s my opinion that humiliation does not accomplish this.



Marianne Clyde is a licensed marriage and family therapist, specializing in anxiety, depression, relationship issues and eating disorders. Happily married with a combined family of 8 children and 10 grandchildren, her office is located at 20 Ashby Street in Warrenton, Virginia. For more information, visit: MarianneClyde.com or call 540-347-3797.

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