5 Steps to Determining the Best Way to Discipline Your Child

Find Discipline Strategies That Work For Your Family

There are many ways to discipline your child for misbehavior.
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There isn't a single right way to discipline kids.There are plenty of ways to raise a happy child who turns into a responsible adult.

There are lots of different opinions about which discipline approach is more effective or what impact certain types of discipline will have on kids, so it's important to do your homework so you can make informed choices about how to raise your children.

Ultimately, your quest to find the best discipline practices should be about finding the discipline techniques that will work best for your family.

Here are five things to consider when deciding which discipline strategies to use with your children:

1. Consider Your Child’s Temperament

Your child’s unique temperament—her abilities, weaknesses, and personality should all be taken into consideration. What works well for one child will not work for another.

A firm redirection may be an effective consequence for a sensitive child. But a strong-willed child may not be phased unless she loses her privileges.

Some kids are also more motivated by rewards than others. So take time to really think about what types of things will work best with each child.

2. Take Your Temperament Into Account

Of course, a parent’s temperament should also be taken into consideration. And then, examine the fit between your temperament and your child's.

For example, if you are a quiet, laid-back person, you may find it easy to handle a shy child who enjoys reading and playing with blocks.

But, if you have a loud, hyperactive child, you might you're frequently overwhelmed by his energy level. 

That could mean you have less patience for certain behaviors. Or, it may mean you're overly strict about some issues. Developing an awareness of your temperament can help ensure your parenting in a way that teaches your children the life skills they need to become responsible adults.

It's also important to think about your partner's temperament as well. If you’re laid back and your partner’s wound like a top, it’ll be important to find a discipline strategy that will work well for both of you. 

3. Identify Your Parenting Style

There are four main types of parenting styles; authoritarian, authoritative, uninvolved, and permissive.

Identify which style you gravitate toward naturally. Evaluate the pros and cons of your parenting style and determine if there are any changes you want to make to your approach to discipline.

Research shows children raised by authoritative parents fare best, physically and emotionally. So consider what steps you might take to adopt a more authoritative style. 

4. Educate Yourself on the Five Types of Discipline

There are five basic types of discipline; positive discipline, gentle discipline, boundary-based discipline, behavior modification, and emotion coaching.

There certainly are several subtypes and they are called by other names sometimes in various books or publications, but these are the main types of discipline. 

Identify which discipline strategies you use and think about which ones are most effective with your child. A combination of several types of discipline may be most effective in managing your child's behavior.

5. Experiment with Various Discipline Strategies

Your child’s discipline needs will change over time depending on his maturity level and life circumstances. A discipline strategy that works now, might not work next year.

That’s why it’s important to have a toolbox filled with discipline tools so you’re always ready with an alternative strategy.

When trying new discipline tactics, like ignoring certain behaviors or taking away privileges, your child's behavior may get a little worse before it gets better. That doesn't mean your discipline isn't working. Sometimes behaviors get worse before they get better as kids react to new rules and new limits.

Make your rules clear and stay consistent with giving out consequences. In the meantime, keep teaching your child new skills so he can learn to manage his behavior better.

Sources

Chorpita BF, Weisz JR. Match-ADTC: modular approach to therapy for children with anxiety, depression, trauma, or conduct problems. Satellite Beach, FL: PracticeWise; 2009.

Webster-Stratton C. The Incredible Years: parents, teachers, and childrens training series: program content, methods, research and dissemination 1980-2011. Seattle, WA: Incredible Years; 2011.

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