tips pactises For Parents On Self disciplining children

Tips & Practises For Parents On Self-Disciplining Children

Table of Content
Tips & Practises For Parents On Self-Disciplining Children
1. Parental Authority
2. Some Do’s of Discipline
3. Some Good Punishments
4. Some ‘Don’ts’ of Disciplining

“When I was a bachelor I knew six theories about bringing up children. Today I am married, have six children and have no theories.”

Lord Rochester

The case M. a six – year old boy, was brought to me for consultation by his parents. He was reported to be excessively disobedient, ride, defiant and provocative. He showed excessive aggression, getting physical too often with his younger sister aged six and breaking useful objects like clocks or TV-remote when angry. The history revealed that theirs was an extended family, with M’s grandparents staying with them. The mother was too passive and ineffective, the father being too harsh, irrational and frequently beating up the child. The grandparents were too permissive and often used to fulfill M’s material wishes denied by his parents. It was quite apparent that the undesirable family dynamics were responsible for M’s behavioral problems in a large way. It needed several sessions of ‘family therapy’ i.e. counseling the entire family – together and individually, to bring about partial improvement in M’s and his family members behaviour.

How can parents prevent children like M going astray? Through wise disciplining.

Following are some tips for parents going the right way.

Parental Authority:

It should be-


Rewarding a particular behaviour (may be covertly) at one time and punishing it at others leaves the child confused and insecure. Consistency should be both intra-personal in the same person’s behavior at different times) and interpersonal (e.g. between the two parents)


Don’t apply adult standards to the child. Try to look at things through the child’s point of view. He was never an adult – you were a child at some time. A child is more likely to misbehave if he is tired, bored, hungry or bullied. Be more flexible at such times.


Don’t trample upon the child’s rights. Within reasonable boundaries let him choose his games, dresses, study hours, TV-watching time etc.


Be clear and assertive in your message. The child should learn early that if he does not obey the parents, the consequences are going to be unpleasant. See to it that an important instruction is not ignored.

Some Do’s of Discipline

  • Keep only few rules in the house. But enforce them strictly. If the child is old enough, he should know the reason for a rule.
  • In case of a perceived misdeed, give an opportunity to the child to explain it. It may turn out that it was not his fault after all.
  • If the child spontaneously confesses a misdeed, it should not be followed by a severe punishment, or else you discourage future confessions.
  • Behave normally soon after a punishment, don’t make prolonged fuss. Don’t discuss bad behaviour in front of him once the punishment is over.
  • If you regret a harsh punishment, apologise to the child.

Some Good Punishments:

1.Firm Disapproval:

My favourite one. Criticize the deed not the child. Say “Your act was bad” and not “you are bad”.

2.‘Time Out’:

For a child who is screaming or trying to gain attention through excessive crying or misbehavior, keep him in an isolated room for a few minutes (may be up to 10) till the crying reduces or stops. The ‘time-out room’ should be devoid of recreational or easily destructible objects.


Take away the child’s loved objects (e.g. A toy or a book or watching television) for some time.

4.Brief Restraint

Physically hold a child in a restraining manner if he is physically aggressive. Don’t scold or make a fuss or even talk to the child during this-be firm and calm. If, on releasing him after a few seconds, he does it again, repeat the restraint. The repetition may have to be done 4 to 5 times in a row.


Ask the child to put right what he has spoiled e.g. cleaning scribbled walls, cleaning a dirtied floor, etc.

Some ‘Don’ts’ of Disciplining:

  • Don’t bribe a child for a desirable behavior e.g. studies. You could be sowing the seeds for a corrupt adult. Unexpected rewards or praise are O.K.
  • Avoid shouting or displays of other forms of intense negative emotions. Remember – a child wants attention even if it is negative. Disapproval should be shown firmly, with a use of minimum words (no prolonged haranguing or preaching) and, very importantly, calmly. Avoid prolonged two-way exchanges with children- they erode your authority. Express your disapproval and walk off.
  • Avoid hitting the child. It teaches the child to be aggressive (“When in anger, hit”).Moreover, the child perceives this as the ‘last punishment, beyond which you cannot do anything more’. And it’s cruel. Never fool yourself that you are hitting the child ‘to improve him’. You hit simply because you helplessly vent out your anger.
  • Don’t scold too frequently. It makes the scolding ineffective. (“Mummy ka tape shuroo ho jata hai. -Children often tell me.) A scolding can’t meet a worse fate.
  • Don’t threaten impossible punishments e.g. “I will drive you out of the house “, “I will leave you in a jungle” etc. The child soon learns not to take your threat seriously.
  • Never punish for acts, which are beyond the child’s voluntary control e.g. bedwetting, a poor handwriting, hyperactivity etc.
  • Never issue scary threats e.g. of ghosts, injection, policemen etc. These sow the seeds for an insecure, anxious adult.
  • Don’t punish accidental damage e.g. breakage of a plate which falls accidentally. He in fact needs to be comforted here. If scolded or punished his regret at the damage vanishes and is substituted by defiance and hostility.
  • Never use negative labels for a child e.g. ‘dull’, ‘mischievous’, ‘disobedient’, and ‘stupid’.  Each individual keeps behaving in accordance with his self-image, and this self-image is largely formed by the parental expressed opinions of him in his childhood.

Always remember- a child behaves well out of love and respect for his parent. The basis of good behavior is love and praise, and not blame or punishment.

The case M. a six - year old boy, was brought to me for consultation by his parents. He was reported to be excessively disobedient, ride, defiant and provocative

Written By – Dr. Sudhir Bhave (Psychiatrist)

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    51 + = 58

    Our Associations