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How to discipline effectively: A list of strategies

Listen to your children, and they will listen to you.
Listen to your children, and they will listen to you.
Photo by David Kidd via Flickr

Parents have a lot of things to worry about. Every decision they make has an impact on their children's futures. Perhaps that is why there are so many disagreements when it comes to parenting. One of the big debates involves how to discipline effectively. The following list explains how to discipline effectively in order to teach your children how to manage their own behavior.

1.Tell your child what they can do instead of only telling them what not to do. For example, if your child is jumping on the furniture, you can say, “Please sit on the couch.” This is sometimes referred to as positive phrasing.

2. Make sure any consequences you deliver are directly related to the behavior. For example, if your child is hitting another child, you might feel inclined to take away their favorite toy. However, that is not directly related to hitting, and will be unlikely to create a lasting lesson for your child. Another option would be to remove your child from the area, which allows safety for the child being hit. Then talk about hitting: validate that they are upset, but let them know that it hurts the other child and hitting is not allowed. Then help them to problem solve other ways to deal with their anger. This discussion will help instill in your child the knowledge that all emotions are allowed, but behaviors still need to be appropriate.

3.Focus on the behavior instead of the child. Never tell them they are bad or being bad. Instead, say that they are making poor choices, and you would like to help them come up with a solution.

4.Always let your child know that you love them no matter what.

5.Connect with your child before you correct the behavior. Remember that all behavior is an expression of internal status. If you find your child is really testing limits, it may be time to find out what need is not being met. It may be that he is tired or she is hungry. It may be that they are having trouble dealing with big emotions or need some quality time with you.

6.Listen when your child talks. Take time to really be with your child.

Keep in mind that children are always watching and always listening even when it doesn't seem like it. Model the behaviors you want your child to express, and soon you will notice that they act a lot like you.

Do you have a discipline question about a specific behavioral issue? Send it to me at, and I may feature it in an upcoming article.

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