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Child Discipline Series

Quick Discipline Strategies


Use humor. As in my friend's approach, a good laugh helps break the tension. Instead of backing the child into a corner, you let him know that Hey, this is nothing serious. I'm in control so you are safe. We can work this out. I love you.

Use eye contact. Don't call out your instructions from another room if you are really serious about wanting it done. If you're not that serious, just don't bother. Wait until you get into the room with her and make sure that she is looking at you with full attention.

Don't say OK? We often say something like, 'I need you to pick up those clothes, OK?' It's a natural phrase to say when we feel relaxed and good-humored. Better to be direct though, and just point out what needs to be done and when, 'Your clothes are on the floor. Pick them up before you get out that toy.'

Walk away. The message of your body language should be that you have full confidence that your child is going to comply with what you just said. If you walk back through the room and it hasn't been done, give a warning of the consequence. Then, walk away.

Stop talking about it. Quit nagging, placating, lecturing, or preaching. Use one word reminders. Briefly, make certain that your expectation is clear and the consequences are understood. If necessary, implement consequences unemotionally and without discussion.

Use a kitchen timer. From Elaine Gibson at SMU, this is a powerful tool that will get your child's attention and prevent you from letting noncompliance slide by unnoticed.

Institute a chore chart or token system. These can be done without much trouble and may be an appealing intervention for Dad to supervise. It may seem like a hassle to set up, but it can be a time saver. See the section on Charts & Chips for the steps.

Have a family meeting. It should be somewhat structured with all family members present.

More of this Feature

Child Discipline Series Introduction

Try Something New!

Quick Strategies for Improving Child Discipline

Give Effective Instructions

Gain Compliance Using Consequences

Hold Family Meetings

Charts & Chips - Using a Behavior Modification System

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