Discipline "Don'ts"

We do our best but sometimes our discipline falls short, in some cases it totally backfires.

You know the drill. You give you tell your child to do something, let's say eat dinner. But they don't do it. You repeat it and it still doesn't happen. You try to negotiate. If you eat you can get dessert. But nothing. You give make a threat. "If you don't eat your dinner you can't go with us to the movies" . "Fine", he says. Boom backfire!

Honestly there are times when you must put your foot down but in many cases some fights just aren't worth fighting. Will it really effect your child having mismatched socks? The trick is... to choose when you need to make a stand and to do it wisely and not fall into some discipline parenting traps.


Here are some Discipline Don'ts:


#1. Don't lie to get your way.

My youngest LOVES the ice-cream truck. She actually wants to be a ice cream truck driver when she grows up. But remembering the battles to keep my oldest indoors when she heard the telltale song announcing the overpriced prepackaged sugar ridden junk making it's way down the street, I decided to curb that early with my little one. "The ice-cream man plays music when he's out of ice-cream so kids know not to come out and chase him down." In 5 years I have never once bought an ice-cream from one of the trucks that circle the neighborhood.

Little fibs (ok, maybe mine wasn't so little) may get you what you want now but at some point you will get caught. I have no idea what I'm going to say when I get busted. I realize I probably should have just been honest. Sure, with young kids giving logical reasons doesn't always hit home but saying what your decision is and why in terms they can understand is better than teaching them that sometimes it is ok to lie. "Honey, the ice-cream truck costs money and mommy doesn't want to spend money on junk food this time but if you get happy faces in school for a whole week, you can get some another day as a treat".


#2. Don't give in.

"Please?" says your kid. "I said No," you reply. "Why not?" "Not now," you say. "Please!" (Insert tears, sad face, etc) "FINE!"

Congratulations. You just taught your child that she can get you to change your mind. And why not? Isn't it sometimes easier to give in than to argue? Sure, but that is why it is important to choose your battles.

If you are putting your foot down about something that you may change your mind about given enough resistance you probably didn't need to put your foot down in the first place.

No parent wants to be the bad guy or have their kid upset with them but if you give your child an instruction "Do not jump on the bed". But if they keep doing it and you keep saying "If you don't stop jumping on the bed you are going into timeout" your child thinks, mommy will keep telling me not to until I really have to stop.

If you give them an instruction, then a warning, you need to give them their consequence. Otherwise you are showing them that mommy may not follow through. They have to learn that you will do as you say and it also teaches them that they not only should do as they are told but they learn that it is important to do as they say too.


#3. Don't bribe.

It is so easy to get my kid to eat if I just offer her dessert. I can get her to leave a store easily if I promise her a small toy if she doesn't cry. Sure she seems like an angel but that's because she learned early on that her behavior could be dependent upon treats.

I'll admit, it was 100% my fault but when bribery works so well, it's hard not to do it.

Instead of bribery, which just has very negative connotations (I'll give you this if you don't do that), your child should learn that good behavior is expected, not negotiable. Rather than offer candy for being good while with the babysitter, praise your child and tell them how proud you are that they behaved like such a big kid in the store.

It may take a while to break them of the urge to negotiate rewards for what they should be doing anyway, but once you break this habit you will be much happier and your child will actually become more grateful for the occasional reward.


#4. Don't freak out!

I have done it. You have done it. We all get overwhelmed and sometimes we FREAK OUT!!! We are only human. But try not to do it in front of the kids. Yelling, screaming, throwing adult tantrums just shows them that the exact behavior you discourage in them is ok in you.

If you have to step away do it. Let the kiddo cry, take a moment for yourself.

And remember, we all want to freak out from time to time and it's ok to do it... just avoid doing it in front of the children.


#5. Don't over do it.

Have you ever been lectured to the point that you can't even really grasp what is being said? You just sort of space out. Kids do that too. All the time. So don't over do the lectures.

Regardless of age, tell your child why you are upset, what they did, what their punishment is, and be done. Going on and on actually takes away the impact of what you are saying.

With my oldest I have to address the situation immediately, give her punishment, and be done. The more I explain the ins and outs and whys of her crime, the less she really cares because she gets to the point where hearing me carry on is punishment enough! She actually looks forward to being sent to her room so I can stop lecturing.

Likewise, punishments should fit the child, their age, and the crime. Be reasonable. Is forgetting to do one homework assignment really worth a week of restriction? Or could a night of doing extra credit fix the problem and teach the lesson? If your child threw a toy, does taking the toy away for a week work better than a time out? If a punishment goes on too long, the child becomes desensitized to it. So just don't over do it.


#6 Don't be a bad example.

I have a potty mouth. I admit it. Luckily my kids don't repeat what I say because they learned early on that only adults say bad words (which I know I shouldn't say in front of them but oh well). But if (or should I say when) one goes to school and drops the F-bomb they hear so often at home... who's really to blame?


If a child is spanked when they do something wrong they are more likely to hit a peer over a disagreement. After all, they learned that spanking is a means of redirecting bad behavior.

This one is easy. Just be a good example.


A lot of these things I have learned from personal experience. In fact I learn new "do's and do not's" every day. I actually learn more of what NOT TO DO then what TO DO but that's part of parenting. I'm not perfect, in fact, I'm sure you have some to add to this list. If so I encourage you to do so. Share with me. I love learning from other moms. But if this article helps you correct even one Discipline Don't then I'm glad I wrote it. And your child will be too. (I know mine were happy I gave myself these reminders!)

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