Discipline: intervention methods to use and avoid

Discipline is probably the biggest challenge for parents and requires a lot of perseverance. However, the efforts we make when our children are young are worth it, because when they become adolescents it will be easier to fulfill. We are all aware that discipline, if properly applied and respected, can cause children to behave correctly within their own family, but also in society.

But when we talk about discipline we also talk about punishments and rewards , do you know how to use them properly?



How to work with punishments and rewards properly

When it is not possible to associate a punishment directly with the act that has been committed, what is known as withdrawal of the privilege can be used, as long as “this deprivation” is limited in time.

Another important point to keep in mind is that withdrawal of privileges should never be emotional punishment , that is, depriving a child of beneficial emotional moments, such as visiting grandparents, can never be an option. Don’t deprive your children of telling stories in bed, visiting uncles, playing outside, or enjoying a board game with the rest of the family. In short, do not eliminate those moments that normally allow you to nurture a beautiful relationship with the little ones or strengthen your bond of attachment and complicity.




When instead of punishment or reward we speak of reparation, we refer to a consequence directly related to the gesture committed and the need to compensate it: tidying up the books, apologizing to a friend after pushing him, hugging a little sister after a lack of kindness… When that “repair” is carried out, it is important to end the punishment so that the child can continue with the lesson learned.

This method allows children to correct mistakes in a positive way while preserving self-esteem , and the message sent to them is the following: “You made a mistake (which is normal, since you are learning) and now you correct it and you try not to do it again ”.

It is also important not to misuse the consequences, or else they will lose their effect, so children can become “immune”. We must always give them a margin of maneuver adapted to their age group and their level of autonomy.



Intervention methods to avoid for good discipline

Punishments and rewards should be used well, and not arbitrarily, revanchist, or harsh. That is why it is essential that you NEVER make the following mistakes for the sake of the little ones and for family harmony in general:


  • Denigration or verbal abuse

Rules imposed in a constantly negative climate can seriously undermine a child’s self-esteem. It is essential to avoid insults or degrading comments, even when it is said that they have not been said intentionally but as a result of the heat, they end up giving the child the impression that he is bad or a bad person, when his behavior is the only inappropriate thing. In addition, far from changing, this type of behavior leads even more to disobedience .

In all our interventions we must make our children feel that it is not they who are being questioned, but their behavior. We must also be careful not to intervene in front of others, because it is very humiliating and this will only amplify their wishes for opposition. Although it is advisable not to reprimand a child in public, it is advisable not to let it pass (if it is very serious) and to retreat to a quieter side to intervene. Nor do we have to give up or abandon our requirements or our instructions for lack of energy, time or simply to avoid conflict.


  • Incessant repetitions

We must avoid repeating the same instruction over and over again, children know the limits and the number of times they can make us repeat a request before intervening. Repeating constantly is to encourage your children to prolong their opposition and, above all, not to listen or respond to the first request.


  • Threats

After multiple repetitions, threats often follow each other: “I warn you, if you don’t come and put your shoes away I’ll put them in the trash”, “If you’re not going to make your bed, you won’t be able to play with the console for a month” …

These threats are often excessive or rarely applied. Informing a child of the consequence that awaits him is not a threat in itself, but it is done if it is rarely applied or if it is far-fetched, and that is perceived by children quite quickly. Again, it is your credibility as a parent that is at stake when you apply exaggerated punishment.




  • Excessive explanations

We must also avoid falling into excessive explanations. Explain specifically to your children what you expect of them , without getting into endless discussions. Children like to know clearly what is expected of them, so don’t beat around the bush.


  • Whipping

Although spanking is no longer seen as an option today, fortunately, many parents indulge in such archaic methods in out-of-control situations. Some parents get exasperated when faced with unacceptable or disruptive behavior by children and do not know how to react or intervene. They feel powerless and end up giving in to anger and spanking, but although anger in such situations may be understandable, the hitting gesture never is.

Spanking is a loss of parental control that denotes a clear lack of means of intervention or a “means” to communicate ineffectively in the face of a child’s disagreement (parents sometimes feel this is the only way to be understood). In short, spanking becomes a way to radically solve or overcome a problem of communication or intervention by parents.

This punishment technique sometimes seems to give immediate results, but it is only in the very short term, and generates such negative and uneducational feelings as fear, which can lead to very negative emotional consequences also in the long term. Spanking is a very humiliating gesture, a move that directly undermines self-esteem while breaking the bond of respect and trust . Faced with sustained physical intervention, the child will be afraid of making a mistake, will lose confidence in adults, will hesitate before taking any action and will shut down on himself, which can never be beneficial for good development.



Good afternoon, my name is Yuberki. I am a General Psychologist, I work in a Public Educational Center in the Dominican Republic. Personally, I love the materials you share on this page, as well as helping me to strengthen my practice … Thank you and God bless [email protected]

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