- Don’t fail to set clear limits: It’s important to explain rules and boundaries to our kids ahead of time in calm moments to really help them understand why rules exist.
- Don’t give in to whining: You’ve set a limit and now your child is whining and crying, and you’re thinking of giving in just to make it stop. Don’t. This just reinforces their whining behavior. It teaches them that your limit isn’t firm and that if they whine enough, they will get what they want. Instead, empathize with their feelings and hold firm to the limit you set.
- Don’t yell: When we yell at our kids, our kids hear the volume of and anger in our voice but they don’t hear our words. When we remain calm, our kids can focus on their own actions and how to repair their mistakes, rather than how angry we are or how upset they are with us for yelling at them.
- Don’t lecture: When we lecture, our kids feel defensive and resentful toward us, and they often will begin to tune us out. Studies show that lecturing is not an effective way to teach our children or to engage their cooperation.
- Don’t set a bad example: Children will do as you do. Children learn by watching you. If you yell at them, they will yell at others. If you criticize them, they will think less of themselves and will criticize others. If you treat your child with respect, they will treat you and others with respect. If you model compassion for others, they will have compassion for others too. If you hold firm to your limits, you are teaching them to hold firm to their limits (which is so important when they start getting peer pressure). If you look for the good in them, they will look for the good in themselves, others, and the world.
- Don’t make threats or bribes: Using threats and bribes is a quick fix that might work in the short term but it doesn’t teach our children the values and life skills we want them to learn. And in the long run, it hurts our relationship with our children and can have a negative effect on their self-esteem.
- Don’t forget to follow through: Oftentimes parents don’t want to follow through with discipline because they don’t want to deal with an upset child and/or don’t have the time or energy to follow through. But following through with discipline, when done the right way, can actually create a stronger relationship with our children, build trust with our children, and teach them to be in control of themselves which will help improve their future behavior.
- Don’t make “teaching your child a lesson” more important than your relationship: Rules without relationship = rebelion, but rules with relationship = respect. A strong relationship is an essential base in order for discipline to be effective and for our children to learn life skills through discipline, so make sure that you’re not discipling in a way that is going to hurt your relationship with your child.
Now that you know what not to do when it comes to discipline, you might be wondering how to effectively discipline, because we definitely can’t just let our kids do anything and everything they want to do with no regard. In my parenting course, Family Elements, I have an entire module on discipline where I share some amazing discipline tools to use that will help you get the results you want without using punishment, blame, shame, guilt, or rewards.