Parents Need a Discipline Toolbox Filled with Useful Tools

Choose from a variety of discipline options to address behavioral issues

Every parent needs a variety of discipline tools.
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What works to discipline one child may not work for another. And no single discipline strategy is effective for every rule violation. So while time-out may curb your child's aggression, taking away privileges may work best when he doesn't do his chores.

That's why it's important for parents to have a customized discipline toolbox, filled with a variety of discipline strategies that can be applied to misbehavior.

Just like with any toolbox, there will be some tools you use more than others. Having a variety of tools and options can give you the confidence to deal with behavior problems big and small.

Your Options in Addressing Misbehavior

It's good to have several choices when you're deciding how to best teach your child about appropriate behavior. If your child misbehaves at school, should you take away his electronics every time he has a bad day? Or, should you let the consequences he receives at school serve as punishment enough?

Of course, you don't want to just randomly pick tools from your toolbox and apply them haphazardly. Instead, you'll want to create a behavior management plan. Carefully consider what tools or combination of tools will most likely work and which caregivers can help you implement the tools as well.

For example, does your child need to learn life skills, like problem-solving skills?

Or does he need to learn how to verbalize his feelings? Address any skill deficits that could help your child make better choices in the future.

Specific Discipline Tools

Here are some of the most common and most effective discipline strategies that you may want to include in your discipline toolbox:

  • Positive Attention- Daily doses of one-on-one time prevents attention-seeking behavior. Time-out is much more effective when your child is getting plenty of time-in. issues.
  • Praise- Catch your child being good and you'll encourage your child to keep up the good work.
  • Rewards- Reward systems can include anything from a sticker chart to a token economy system. Rewards can be very effective ways to motivate your child to behave.
  • Pre-Teaching- Pre-teaching is an important step in ensuring your child knows the rules and expectations before an event or community outing.
  • Ignoring- Actively ignore attention-seeking behavior and eventually, your child's misbehavior will stop.
  • Time-Out- Time-out removes your child from a situation and can be a great way to teach him to calm down when he's upset.
  • Loss of Privilege- Take away a privilege, like TV, for a specific period of time.
  • Logical Consequences- Make the "punishment fits the crime" with a consequence that is directly linked to your child's misbehavior.
  • Natural Consequences- Natural consequences can help your child learn from his own mistakes.
  • Restitution- When your child's behavior hurts someone else, restitution can help make amends.

What to Do When a Tool Isn’t Working

If the discipline tool you’re using doesn't seem effective, examine your technique.

Are there things you could do differently that may make the tool more effective? For example, are you consistent when applying the tool? Are you clear about the rules and consequences? Have you given it enough time to work?

If it appears as though a specific consequence just isn't effective, switch to a different tool. For example, if ignoring swear words hasn’t curbed your child's potty mouth, try rewarding him for using nice language or place him in time-out for using inappropriate words.

If you're really struggling to find a discipline tool that works well, seek professional help. Talk to your child's pediatrician or consult a mental health professional.

A professional can help you rule out underlying behavior disorders and can help you discover the most effective discipline strategies.

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