When Disciplining You Children Give Realistic Punishments

Several months ago, our family and another family were invited to a friends house for dinner. One of the kids at the meal started misbehaving and accidentally hurt his younger brother. The parents jumped up, walked over to their son, and said in a very stern voice “If you misbehave one more time, we’re taking away your Nintendo DS for MONTH!! You understand?!” Five minutes later the boy misbehaved again so the parents walked over to him and took away his Nintendo DS. He got it back less than ten minutes later.

When we give out punishments we evaluate their severity from our point of view. This is a mistake. An effective punishment doesn’t have to be so ridiculous.

I can’t stress this enough. When you are disciplining your children your punishments have to be realistic. Otherwise your kids will quickly learn that you don’t follow through your threats. Not following through with your punishments could lead to bigger behavior problems further down the road.

Leave out the extremes. Here are just a few examples of exaggerated punishments:

“No TV for you for a month!”
“I’m taking away all your snacks for the week!”
“We’re going to lock you in your room for the whole night!”

Don’t threaten your kids with something you have absolutely no intention of following through with. There’s no reason to. Children, from ages two and a half to at least seven can be easily punished with without going to extremes.

Here are some examples of non-exaggerative punishments that are effective:
“You just lost 15 minutes of TV time tonight!”
“I am taking away one of your your snacks for tomorrow!”
“If you don’t keep quiet, we are going to close the door to your room for five minutes!”

Children don’t like punishments. Its more the fact that they are being punished that gets their attention regardless of how mild the punishment may be.

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13 Responses

  1. Linda says:

    very important. I hear this all the time and it drives me crazy. another point, kids dont have an understanding of the concept of time so a month means almost nothing to them anyway.

  2. Eric says:

    linda, that is a good point and forgot to mention it. kids, especially 2-5 year olds dont even understand how long five minutes is let a lone a whole week or month. they understand what a punishment is regardless how sever. thanks for the feedback.

  3. Carl says:

    I have a 4 1/2 year old daughter. 75% of the time is is great.However she continues to test the waters and gets mouthy and talks back. We continue to use the timeout routine and taking away TV for a day or so but this reallly doesn’t seem to matter to her.
    What other forms of punishment are appropiate since she is only 4 and doesn’t really have ipods, phones and video games yet.
    Thanks for any suggestions!

  4. Eric says:

    Hi Carl, sorry for not responding sooner. My suggestion is that when punishments dont work go back to the beginning and start over.

    Are you following the 80/20 rule? That should be number one.

    Number two, do you reward her for good behavior? Its very, very important to reinforce positive behavior.

    Are you giving her responsibilities and allowing her to make choices. She is 4.5 and she should be trusted to do certain things.

    Is she involved in making decisions? Do you have conversations with her?

    Is she having problems with friends in school? I know that when my daughter started misbehaving at home when she was younger it was because her friends were picking on her and she was taking it out on us.

    If you are resorting to punishments to deal with her behavioral problems then the situation is not going to be resolved. Try the above suggestions and let me know if they helped.

    • Scout says:

      That’s the thnnkiig of a creative mind

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  5. Vatsala says:

    have you tried recording what she says when she confronts you verbally and playing it back to her? or getting her a small tape recorder after a time out for her to record why she does it.
    they unravel faster and faster this way and learn to verbalise her frustrations before she explodes from inside.
    takes weeks.

  6. Anonymous says:

    i have a 12 year old girl who i cant get to stop lying and i found out that she cheated on her finals and i dont know what to do

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have a 15 year old boy who won’t behave no matter what I try

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