Child Discipline Techniques That Work

by pearlyshells

Time to junk the belt and the bribes! Here's what works --- and what doesn't.

Discipline has a negative reputation. For many grownups, the word brings back memories of themselves as children suffering a good whipping from their father's belt. But does discipline really have to be so painful? Not so, experts say.

There are better ways to do it, ways that are healthy and kind rather than negative and punitive. In the long run, this yields more positive results as proven in studies. There is even an add-on benefit to this new approach: The child learns how to be responsible and accountable for his actions.

Why Discipline?

It is a way to teach, train, and educate children. Discipline is a good way to introduce them to rules --- and train kids to follow them. Done the positive way, discipline may also help your child develop responsibility and good judgment, able to differentiate between right and wrong. The next time he is faced with a choice, he will do what is right. Now that's self-discipline --- music to any parent's ears!

With discipline, too, you can give your child choices that will develop his sense of responsibility and self-control.

Discipline is also important as it provides a sense of predictability. With set boundaries, the child gains a sense of security. Having clear and simple rules as part of discipline also minimizes confusion and disobedience. If you say, for example, that today it is okay to eat candy and tomorrow it's not, chances are, he will try to disobey tomorrow because it's okay today.

Techniques that Work

There are several ways to implement positive discipline:

Use the Quiet Chair

This calms down preschoolers and young children. When he's crying and shouting, let your child sit on a chair by himself until he recovers. The quiet chair should only be used for a few minutes. The tactic is meant ot stop the child from screaming, hitting or having a temper tantrum. The quiet chair is also good for the parent --- it makes you delay action until you are ready to approach the problem calmly.

Be firm. Even if the child says sorry and pleads to be excused from the quiet chair, make him sit even for a few minutes. When he's fidgety or tries to stand up, let him stay a few minutes more. It's the same as "time-out" for a school-aged child, when he is made to go to a corner or a boring room. When he has calmed down, he is asked why he was placed in time-out.

Kids aged two and below do not yet understand the concept of "no". So parents should just distract the toddler. If he wants to touch the electric fan for example, give him a toy instead. He won't understand being put in the quiet chair.

Use Natural and Logical Consequences

This is teaching them that there are certain laws of right and wrong in this universe and they need to consider consequences. The method is meant to motivate children to make the right choice by opening their eyes to their actions and considering the results of these.

A natural consequence follows the natural order of events. Let's say your child didn't bring a jacket when you told him to do so. If it rained, then he would feel cold and get wet. The next time around, he will probably remember to bring his jacket.

A logical consequence is the most rational or sensible consequence of an action. A child learns, sometimes painfully, what he should have done. Logical consequences may be used on children as young as four. It is also very useful with teenagers.

Logical consequences are directed toward what a child has done, not toward who he is. If a child lied, for instance, tell him only that he has told a lie; don't call him a liar as this is an attack on his person. A parent should identify first the misbehavior pattern (example: being late, leaving money lying around). Talk with your child and agree on a logical consequence you can implement. Say, "If you do this, then this will happen." Then implement the consequence with firmness and kindness. Don't forget to give chances for him to improve his behavior, though.

If your teenage daughter, for example, always dresses up late for church, you may sit down with her and agree that the next time she is late, you're going to leave her at home. Do so the next time she does it. Then when you come back, talk to her and say, "Let's see if you'll do better next Sunday."

This method of disciplining makes a child learn responsibility. It also develops good judgment as he learns based on the consequences of an action. It also increases a child's self-confidence as he learns to make good choices.

This method makes a parent less exasperated or angry because you know there is an agreed consequence beforehand. It also develops mutual trust and respect. 

Do Problem Solving

The key code is SOCS: Situation, Options, Consequences, Solution. First find out what the problem is (example: bad grades). Find out what options you have (ask the teacher to help, ask a classmate, hire a tutor). Evaluate what consequences each option may have (the teacher may be busy, classmate may not know the lessons well, a tutor may be expensive). Find a solution or a combination of solutions that may work for you (hire a tutor once a month, and ask the teacher for help when she's not busy).

Problem-solving will develop good decision-making skills and boost self-confidence.



Techniques That Don't Work

Based on studies, the following are ineffective ways to discipline:

Blaming and criticizing

Saying, "See? If you studied harder you would have gotten good grades. It's your fault." That is blaming. This will lover your child's self-esteem. He'll begin not to like himself. He will think, "I never do anything right."

Nagging and Lecturing

Who enjoys nagging? No one. Not even your child whom you may have reminded for the hundredth time to clean up his room. Kids will only become parent-deaf and tune you out.


Empty threats like flushing a child down the toilet or selling him to street vendors create fear. And when your child realizes that you don't follow through on your threats, he will no longer believe you.


If you have to bribe your child for him to follow rules, you will forever be at his mercy. He will only do good because there is an exchange. Your child will have a hard time when he grows up and realizes that the world doesn't operate that way. Bribing is different from giving motivational rewards when there is an accomplishment.


Labels stick. The negative label becomes part of his self-image. The child will accept the label and think he really is "lazy," "messy", "selfish," or "naughty".


Some say spanking works. A person may have been spanked as a child and turned out okay as an adult. However, the message given the child is, "If you're angry, hit!" It encourages aggressive behavior. Spanking may also escalate into something else. It's hard to draw the line because you do it in anger. It can turn into something uncontrollable, even child abuse or violence. In the long run, too, spanking may embitter a child. Immediately after spanking, a child may obey out of fear, but later on he will distance himself from his parents.

"He who spares his rod hates his son", the Bible says. This should not be taken literally to mean you should spank your child. It means to discipline to correct your child so he can have clear definitions of right and wrong.  

Discipline Guidelines

To be effective, discipline given should be reasonable, flexible, firm, and consistent.

Let's say your child watched TV for two hours when your rule is only an hour a day. A reasonable disciplinary measure would be to not let him watch TV tomorrow because he already consumed his TV hour. If you say he cannot watch TV for a month, that's going overboard.

Being flexible is giving exceptions when needed. If your rule, for instance, is no TV during weekdays, if there are no classes, maybe you can allow him to watch that day. Or if sleeping time is at 8 p.m., bend the rule a little on special occasions.

Rules must also be firm, which means that you won't give in when a child pleads or cries. They must also be consistent an don't depend on your moods. If you got a raise today, don't let them eat all the candy they want.

Discipline with Love

Discipline without love is ineffective. You cannot bring about effective discipline without love. It's what motivates you.

For discipline to work, parents should provide a warm and nurturing environment at home. There should be acceptance and respect, empathy and intimacy, attention, affirmation, and affection. If these are not in place, a child given consequences for his action will do the opposite of what's been set. He will especially resent it when a parent shows up only to discipline him and is absent from home the rest of the time.

It is also essential to affirm parental love after every consequence is given for an offense. Say, "We love you that's why we do this" or "If we didn't care about you, we wouldn't bother to do this."

When a child has a close relationship with his parent, he will do all he can to preserve that closeness even when difficulties arise. That's when you know your discipline style is effective --- when your child obeys out of love.

What's the Effective Way to Discipline A Child?

Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login
Updated: 06/09/2012, pearlyshells
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login
Rose on 01/29/2014

We use the naughty step instead of the quiet chair. It does work.

You might also like

A Child's Future

Parents and educators should enable children to choose their life rather than...

How to Help Your Baby Sleep

Baby in the family? Have you ever wondered whether you will ever get a full n...

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...