Rules of Discipline

Children are not always the perfect little angels we want them to be. When a child does something that is out of line there needs to be a consequence for the bad behavior. Learning how to listen and respect adults is important not only to keep your kids from walking all over you but vital for starting school. Each parent has their own way of disciplining their child. Despite controversial topics resulting from disciplinary actions, there are certain rules of discipline to keep in mind.


As parents, we often become frustrated by our children’s behavior but it’s important to understand that they are, in fact, children and will act as children do. It’s easy for the experts to write down all the do’s and don’ts but we’ve all been there in the moment where those peaceful tactics fly right out the door.

Spanking: Do or Don’t?

This is a strongly debated topic. I’m not here to say whether I feel it’s right or wrong because every one in entitled to their opinion on parenting styles. Personally, we only turn to spanking as a last resort if all else fails. It stands to reason that I can’t expect my toddler to learn that hitting her brother is not OK and then spank her in return. The method of punishment we turn towards typically results from the action that was done. Timeouts are the primary method of choice when it comes to discipline in our household; however if Timeoutshe throws her toys out of anger they get taken away.

The topic was recently discussed in Parents Magazine to see how parents weighed in on the subject. The outcome?

61% of parents say they believe in spanking as punishment.
39% said they would never lay a hand on their child.

That’s not to say that one side is right and the other is wrong. It’s a matter of preference and as parents we all do things differently. What works for one child doesn’t always work for others. With that being said, there are a few rules of discipline that you should aim to keep in mind no matter what method you use.

Rule Number 1: Keep Your Cool

NEVER¬†spank or shake a child when you’re angry. When your child does something that sets you off either send them to their room or step away for a few moments to regain your composure before you act. You should NEVER shake a child. Vigorous shaking can lead to permanent brain damage.

Sometimes mom and dad need a time out along with the child. Take 5 then approach them in a calm manner about the action or behavior they’ve done wrong. As elementary as it sounds, taking a few seconds to take a deep breath and count to 10 can really help.

Rule Number 2: Stay Consistent

Kids learn through consistency. If you change up your method of discipline each time or you and your partner are not on the same page it can really confuse a child, which can then lead to further bad behavior. Stick to a method that works whether it’s timeouts or punishment from a privilege (i.e., no TV or video games) and discuss your discipline tactics with your partner.

I can understand that children won’t always cooperate and though you should aim to stick with the same method every time, it is not effective if it won’t resonate with your child. Likewise, if you take away something as a means of punishment eventually you will run out of things to take away. Find an alternative method that works and stick to it. Always explain to your child what it is they’ve done wrong and why it’s not OK.

Rule Number 3: Choose Your Battles

tantrumIt’s important to understand that toddlers in particular don’t have the same mental capacity as adults. Children are constantly learning and they often test their boundaries. If you punish them for every little thing they do wrong you will both end up miserable. It’s fine to let her go out with shoes that don’t exactly match her outfit simply because she refuses to put on the ones you picked out.¬†Don’t sweat the small things. Save discipline for the actions that really require it like talking back to parents or hitting their siblings.

A good way to avoid frustrations that end up in short fuses and timeouts is to have solutions to minimize those situations. While it’s flattering that our kids want to be around us at all times, it can become really bothersome for parents who are trying to get things done while the kids are demanding attention.

Find activities or simple chores for your child to do that they can occupy themselves with to avoid boredom which leads to getting into things they shouldn’t. When I’m in the kitchen washing dishes, I bring the kids with me to ensure they stay out of trouble and give them things they can play with at the table such as play dough or colors. If I’m folding clothes in the living room I’ll let my daughter help by sorting them out so she feels like she’s helping mommy.

When it comes to getting dressed, I try to avoid morning battles by picking out two options for her to choose. I’m giving her a sense of independence by letting her make the choice rather than try to force something on her while still being in control of what she wears. Everyone has their own techniques that work for them in terms of rules of discipline. Stick to your guns, but don’t become a tyrant in the process. Children should learn how to respect others and their parents, but that doesn’t mean by instilling fear.

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