How to teach discipline to your child?
Posted on: October 21, 2010. Comments ( 316 )

Author: Chitra Aravind, Parent from Chettinad Vidyashram, Chennai
Consultant Psychologist - (RCI Certified)

Every mother wants to have their kids to be a well disciplined child, listen to them always, obey them and on the whole be a Good child. Thankfully, kids can be trained to be the way you wanted them to be. So, the million dollar question of “How” arises!!?

Parenting style plays an important role in regulating mental growth of the child through the developmental ages. Regulating child’s behavior is an important ingredient of parenting style. This will decide mostly the love the child will have for you in future. The parents should check for their emotional status before disciplining the child. Ironically, most of the time parents scold the child in frustration and despair, assuming that they are disciplining their child. The fact is that they are only expressing their own frustration, inability and helplessness and ventilating negative emotions (Anger). It is no way going to help in regulating the child’s behavior. So, the parents’ real purpose of disciplining the child is lost.

Imagine a supermarket bill counter, suddenly your kid raises his/her tone to get the chocolate bars arranged aesthetically near the bill counter. You do not intend to get it for him, at all. Generally, most of the parents react to the situation in two ways.1) Irritated by the noise of your child, you give in and get him what he wants. 2) Beat him up and push him out of his way to home. Either the way, the problem behavior is not corrected. In the first method, you have unknowingly reinforced (encouraged) the child to cry hard next time to get what he wants. In the second way, you created the hatred by punishing him, that too, in front of others. I believe that many parents reading this article would have gone through such experiences with their child.

In this era of fast life-style and emerging dual-career families, many parents give in to the obnoxious behavior of kids, just to get rid of the child’s nagging demands and to get instant relief. Thereby, parents unknowingly approve the negative behavior of kids themselves. If this type of building the habit increases, kids become very adamant. They will follow the same strategy of crying /resisting/rebelling for getting things done in their favor. Gradually the child will learn to manipulate their parents for whatever they want. If left unnoticed, this will become their habit and would cause trouble in their intra and interpersonal relationship in future.

At this point, parents have to break this habit by intervening early. So, its better that parents spend quality time with their kids to prevent big troubles in future. Every time, the kid cries adamantly he should not be attended, but ignored. Instead parents have to attend to their needs when communicated verbally by the child instead of crying. Gradually, the adamant habit would vanish and the child will learn that crying hard will not fetch him anything. Moreover, parents should not always say the word “NO”, which the child resents a lot. Instead, they should give them some alternate things to concentrate. E.g., in the same instance, the parents could promise him to buy painting book/whatever he likes, if he stops crying. He must be assured that parents are doing everything for his personal goodness and not that parents are unable to do it. i.e., buying chocolates will not cost them much, but it is not good for child’s health. Effectively communicating with your child is very important.

Punishment must be the least preferred way to discipline the child. Unfortunately, parents resort to punishment quickly as it is easy and they believe that its very effective. However, they are ignorant of the fact that result of punishing acts like shouting and beating to discipline the child is only short-lived with dangerous consequences. For the moment, the behavior may be modified to what you expected, however in long run, the undesired behavior shall soon creep in addition to hatred for the person who punished the child.

One more effective technique to make child do things which they hate to do, is to give them the activity they like only after doing things they do not prefer to do. This way the child will learn to involve in activity which the parents want them to do. E.g. You will be allowed to watch Television (Activity child likes) only if you make your bed ready. (Activity child hates). So, motivated by the consequences (i.e. watching TV) the child indulges in that behavior (making bed) actively and happily.

These are prerequisites to apply these principles.

  1. Know your child needs and analyze the cause of behavior; there is Motive behind all behaviors. Know what your child likes, to motivate him/her using that as rewards.
  2. Check out on your temper and make sure that you don’t ventilate your emotions, but be keen on only regulating your child’s behavior.

Parents should check out for their own physical and psychological status, as their irritability should not be displaced on the child. Parents should clearly understand that the child’s irritable behavior has its own causes. It may be physical or psychological. He may be hungry, sleepy or he may need attention and Love. So, the parents should be empathetic about their child’s needs and try to meet those needs. Parents can try praising the child for any small good things they have done, and not always keen on pointing to mistakes they have done. However check to not always say “Very Good”, as the word will loose is power. Use praise in appropriate situations. After all, the child expects love, security and recognition from you. This will definitely make the child to listen to you. These behavioral techniques can be used with adolescents too. So, what are you waiting for, go ahead and start applying them, to see fruitful results. However, be patient and give some time for the deep rooted habits to be modified to adaptive behaviors.

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Comments (316)


    Vidya says:

    Changing the topic or buying an alternative stuff or asking them to do activity that they dont prefer doesnt work. I have tried all.Some boys who are independent do it themselves like watching the TV or changing the password when we allow them mobile time(and we parents struggle to unlock) or cook their own bread if we dont make it for them or pick up some instant foods to fill their tummy and still continue to antogonise us.. What should the parents do with such children

    Chitra says:

    Check my YouTube for more such valuable information regarding Parenting, life skills..

    Dr. Chitra Aravind, Psychologist

    Sandhya Joshi says:

    Very Informative and Nicely explained in a positive way.

    Viral Rajesh Joshi says:

    Very Useful Article ! Thank you so much .

    Ashok says:

    very good aricle

    Kavitha P Antony says:

    Excellent article

    Subhashini says:

    Excellent article..

    Vishnupriya says:

    Wonderful!!!very useful and an informative article… thanks for opening up our minds ! Will surely try to followup your points to bring up a good personality in my child!!!As said I show up my anger n frustration on child by shouting Or end up beating him. First need to bring the change in me n then transform my child from being n becoming adamant!

    Shabab says:

    Excellent article .

    Devi N says:

    very educative

    Sailee says:

    Agreed bu at the same time even the parent needs to be patient and able to handle it with our job tensions and other things. but still its their childhood which they should get.

    Dr Reetha Dinesh says:

    Well written,
    Kindly check this too!!!

    The underperformers are normally ignored and the average or the below average are the ones who get compared, humiliated and pressurized by all. What many schools fail to do is to provide equal opportunities to the average and below average students. These are the ones who need guidance and counselling to survive the constant comparison they face. They need motivation and encouragement to consistently do well and just a simple appreciation such as saying ‘good job’ or ‘well done’ from their teachers and parents can do wonders to boost their self-esteem.
    Aleena Udas’ Blog

      Siji says:

      I agree.
      Patience is one of the most important quality that we as Parents and Teachers should inculcate in our lives.

    Manisha says:


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