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Parents, Kids, and Discipline

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Tips for Maintaining Discipline continued...

Try to keep your goals and your techniques consistent over time. If more than one adult is responsible for the child's discipline, be sure you agree about the approaches you will use.

When it's done, it's done

After the consequence is over or the time has been served, don't ask for apologies or continue to lecture about the behavior. Help your child return to an appropriate activity.

Understand what is appropriate for your child's development

Before disciplining a child, make sure that the child really did understand what you asked him or her to do. Sometimes parents make demands for behavior that is beyond the child's ability to comply. Just like other skills in life, behaviors often need to be "grown into."

Look for the "why" behind behaviors

If you notice a pattern of inappropriate behavior, part of the solution is to look for "whys." For example, perhaps your child is upset about something else, such as a friend moving away. Maybe your child had a bad day at school. Perhaps your child feels stressed about family problems. Maybe he is tired or hungry. These explanations don't excuse the behavior, but trying to understand why bad behavior occurs can help you and your child find ways to prevent the behavior from happening again and again.

Give yourself a break

Even if you have the best discipline techniques and parenting style, there are some days when nothing seems to work. Or perhaps you've had a bad day, too. Developing skills for positive discipline takes a lot of practice and a lot of time. If you feel you have made a mistake, be honest. Apologize to your child and explain how you plan to change your response the next time.

Know When and Where to Go for Help

There may be times when you don't know what to do to help your child learn appropriate behavior. You may have tried all these techniques to no avail. Or you may not know how to change from what you're doing now to something that will be more effective. Any time you have questions about your child's behavior and discipline, check in with your child's doctor.

In addition, if you notice any of these concerns, seek help from a mental health professional:

  • Ongoing disrespect for all authorities: parents, teachers, and other adults
  • Aggressive or destructive behavior
  • Signs of depression, such as feeling blue for a long time, having no friends, or threatening suicide
  • If your child or other members of the family use drugs or alcohol to deal with stress or other problems in their lives
  • Several relationships within the family are difficult

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on December 16, 2013
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