The 4 Biggest Discipline Mistakes Parents Make

Learn how to avoid these parenting blunders

There's no such thing as a perfect parent. Many parenting practices requires a lot of trial and error, and your child's progress won't always come in a straight line. But there are some common discipline mistakes that almost every parent makes at one time or another. 

Giving Kids Attention for Attention-Seeking Behavior

Avoid the common discipline mistakes almost every parent makes.
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Whining, screaming, and obnoxious behaviors can be difficult to ignore. But attending to attention-seeking behavior can actually reward your child.

Kids need plenty of positive attention for their good behaviors. But good behavior — like playing quietly, sitting still, and taking turns — often goes unnoticed. So in an attempt to gain more attention, your child may be tempted to misbehave.

Any type of attention, including negative attention, gives children positive reinforcement. Sometimes it's more effective to ignore mild misbehavior.

Thinking About Behavior Problems in the Short-Term

Another big parenting mistake is focusing on the short-term only. Although giving in when your child throws a temper tantrum, for example, may make things easier today, it will make behavior problems worse in the long-term.

Giving in teaches children their misbehavior is effective. A child who learns that whining gets him what he wants, is likely to struggle with peer relationships or authority figures.

It is important to remember that your child will need certain skills in order to become a healthy, responsible adult. Therefore, the most effective discipline strategies focus on teaching kids these skills.

Children need to learn that there are negative consequences for their behaviors. Stick to limits and provide fair, consistent, authoritative discipline strategies, to ensure your child is learning the skills he'll need.

Not Creating Written Rules

When there aren't clear rules, your child is likely to feel confused about your expectations. Perhaps you and your partner have different rules, or maybe you interpret the rules slightly different.

Or maybe, you struggle to be consistent with the rules. There may be days you feel too tired to say anything when your child jumps on the furniture. Or your consistency may vary depending on what kind of  a mood you're in. What you thought was funny yesterday may cause you to become really angry today.

Establishing a written list of household rules reduces a child's stress over your expectations. When kids are clear what the limits and consequences are, they can practice making better choices.

Not Having a Discipline Plan

Without a clear plan, parents sometimes struggle to deal with behaviors and the result is chaos.Out of sheer desperation, a parent may spank a child one day and use time-out another. Inconsistent consequences confuse kids and don't usually lead to behavior change.

When it comes to managing behavior problems it's better to be proactive, rather than reactive. Take some time to develop a comprehensive behavior plan so you'll know how to respond when your child breaks the rules. When you address problems with a clear plan, it's much easier to track your child’s progress and to tell whether your discipline strategies are effective.

When your child is exhibiting specific behavioral issues — like aggression or lying — it's important to work with other caregivers to ensure everyone is responding in a similar manner. When all the adults can use the same language and the same types of consequences, behavior problems are likely to resolve much faster.

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