Some often used discipline techniques just don’t work.
How to fix discipline techniques that don’t work
I’m counting 1, 2, 3 – We are leaving… I’m counting…
- What you are really saying: Don’t listen to me until I get to the last number.
- Why it doesn’t work: Children learn that it just means they have extra time to ignore you and your request/demand. Very quickly you’ll go from 3 to 4, then 5, then 6 then… 10+
- What it teaches: Ignore you for as long as possible, you don’t mean what you say, he has extra time to do it…
- What to do instead: Give children advanced notice & warnings. “Five more slides down the slide then it’s time to go home.” Then count out the slides and leave when you reach five. Resist the pleadings for just one more.
Time-Out – Go to the time out chair!
- What you are really saying: Go away from me, I am really mad at you right now!
- Why it doesn’t work: It isolates children getting them out of an immediate problem but without an explanation of what happened and how to deal with it in the future the behavior will just continue.
- What it teaches: I don’t have time to deal with you right now. So go sit over there till I do.
- What to do instead: Use quiet-time instead. Unlike a traditional time-out, quiet-time is more of a helping hand than a punishment. A quiet-time is simply a cooling off period with no activities. You should either calmly take the child to the quiet-time area or ask the child to go there. (The quiet-time area could be a chair, a carpet, your lap…) You might say something like “Biting is not o.k. Please take some quiet-time. Next time remember to use your words.” Learn more about quiet-time here.
Yelling – Don’t ever do that again!
- What you are really saying: Make me mad and I am going to make you scared of me!
- Why it doesn’t work: It scares your child and causes your child to become upset. Children have a hard time listening to what you are saying when they are upset.
- What it teaches: Yelling is a good way to communicate with people to try to get them to do things your way.
- What to do instead: Get down at your child’s level & look her in the eyes. Then calmly, with a firm tone in your voice, let your child know what she did wrong. Then tell her a more positive way to deal with it next time. Give her an example of what you want her to do. The calmer you talk to her, the calmer she’ll become. Learn more here.
Threatening – Put that away or no play date tomorrow.
- What you are really saying: If you don’t do as I say, something bad is going to happen to you.
- Why it doesn’t work: Most of the time, threats are not followed through with and a child starts to learn that a parent’s threats don’t mean anything.
- What it teaches: Threats don’t mean a thing, go ahead a misbehave and ignore Mommy and Daddy. They don’t mean what they say.
- What to do instead: Ask your child to be your helper. “Please be my Big Helper and help me put the toys back on the shelf.” This helps him/her to feel important. Or try singing the clean up song. “Cleanup, cleanup. Everybody everywhere. Cleanup, cleanup. Everybody do your share.” This makes it fun and they’ll sing along. Get more ideas here.
Spanking, slapping, hitting, pushing away
- What you are really saying: If you misbehave, I am going to hurt you and I don’t care how you feel!
- Why it doesn’t work: It shows you don’t respect your child’s feelings. It makes your child angry, sad, fearful of you and it hurts physically.
- What it teaches: It’s OK to physically hurt someone you love. If you don’t like what someone is doing or saying, hit them!
- What to do instead: Talk to your child with a loving, but firm tone and let him know how upset you are with his behavior. (Not with him. Focus on the behavior.) Together, come up with a plan on how your child can change the negative behavior. Learn more here.
Positive proactive discipline works
Discipline is about learning how to recognize our desires and feelings and act on them appropriately within the boundaries or limits of society and our surroundings.