By: Jenna Del Valle, Ph.D.

Many parents struggle with disciplining their child, and it can be difficult to find a parenting solution that not only works with your child but can be implemented consistently. If you are a two-parent family, then there is also the struggle of finding a disciplining style that is approved of by both parents. Often, I come across parents who state that their child knows which parent to go to because they will be softer on them or will not follow through with a consequence. Therefore, in order to have success in your disciplining strategies, both parents need to be on the same page.

In addition, if your child struggles with self-control or misbehaves often, it’s worth considering if they also need support with their social and emotional skills. “A child who learns how to get along with others and expresses feelings will have better self-control” (Skills training for children with behavior problems, 2006). See my other blogs for more information on social and emotional skills. Below are positive disciplining tools that you can use to consequence your child for misbehavior.

Teaching Obedience: Targeted for young children or children who have yet to learn to obey.

To put this into perspective, a parent will verbalize several commands to their child on a daily basis and it is common for children to occasionally disobey or ignore their parent’s commands about 1/3 of the time; this is considered normal. But when a child exhibits chronic disobedience that’s when they may need more corrective support. First, start off with giving your child an effective command. Sometimes parents can be too vague or make too many requests; this can be unhelpful and even stressful for children, especially those who struggle with anxiety or ADHD. It is recommended that parents give one specific command. If your child obeys after the command, it is imperative that you praise your child for compliance. If there is no success with the command, provide a clear warning. It is important to give a child, especially younger children, the chance to correct their misbehavior. For warnings, you want to state the warning one time, and it is preferable to make eye contact with your child and slightly raise your voice. Further, an effective way to warn is to use an “if…then” statement (Skills training for children with behavior problems, 2006). If your child does not comply with a command or warning, then it’s time to take action by removing a privilege.

Removal of privileges is a great way to communicate that you are serious about consequences when your child does not listen to your command or warning. It is important to remove privileges that are age-appropriate and of interest to your child. For younger children (ages 3-7), using an appropriately designated time-out area may be more suitable. Once the child completes the time-out or consequence, it is recommended that the parent communicate the ordinal command. The privilege is then given back when the request is completed by the child (Skills training for children with behavior problems, 2006). The most important thing to keep in mind throughout this process is to stay calm, remain consistent, and maintain follow through on warnings. As mentioned earlier, a key factor in behavior reinforcement is using praise. Provide verbal praise anytime your child complies with a command or warning.

If you want more information on behavior support or other strategies to increase self-control contact Dr. Jenna Del Valle for child therapy services.

Interested in a free 15-minute initial phone consultation? Schedule here!

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