How to Discipline Your Child or Children Without Feeling Bad

By Melinda Kedro
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Working through confrontation and administering discipline to your children can be a challenging task to face as a parent. Often, parents do not want their children to perceive them as "the bad guy." Some parents make an effort to be their child's best friend, shying away from setting boundaries and implementing consequences for their child's negative behaviors. According to Aha! Parenting, children need limits for favorable emotional development. Without clear boundaries, your child may neglect to learn how to tolerate disappointment and develop empathy for others.

Positive Discipline

Step 1

Change your perspective on discipline. Disciplining your child means setting clear limits, acknowledging unacceptable behaviors and being consistent with fair consequences. Many parents understand discipline as a form of punishment or control over the child. Child development educator and social worker Penny G. Davis defines discipline as a process that involves teaching and learning. Discipline your child to teach him what behaviors are appropriate and which actions are unacceptable. Protect your child from dangerous situations by setting limits. Foster his development of self-discipline and help him internalize the concepts of self-control and responsibility.

Step 2

Build a strong foundation of trust between you and your child by establishing clear and consistent limits. Many situations present natural consequences for misbehavior, while other situations require adult enforcement. Consistency is a key factor for effective discipline. Be firm, reasonable and fair with your child. Follow the same established consequences every time your child displays unwanted behavior.

Step 3

Hold your child accountable for her behaviors. Kevin Leman, family psychologist, asserts in an article on "Parents" that children held less accountable for their actions tend to mature into less responsible young adults. Acknowledge your child's feelings during a confrontation as a way to remain positive, but remember to discipline misbehavior. Communicate to your child what she did and why it was wrong. Offer suggestions for other ways she could have handled the situation.

Helpful Techniques

Step 1

Ignore temper tantrums. Attempting to reason with your child during a tantrum will only make the situation more challenging for both you and your child. Give attention to your child's positive behaviors, rather than feeding in to his destructive behaviors.

Step 2

Remain confident in your ability as a parent. Trust that you know what is best for your child by following through with reasonable disciplinary action for inappropriate behavior. It is best to offer simple and true explanations for the rules you set. Avoid getting into debates or arguments about why certain limits exist.

Step 3

Offer different options to your child in times of disagreement. As long as your child is not throwing a tantrum, do your best to provide alternatives for your child to shift his focus. Providing stipulations and incentives to your child is a more positive approach than always saying "No." For example, if your child is begging to go to the park, tell him that you will take him, but only if he picks up all of his toys first. Discipline with this style to maintain focus on the positive effects of compliant behavior.

About the Author

With more than 10 years experience in early childhood education, Melinda Kedro holds a Masters degree in education, teaching certification through the Association Montessori Internationale and is a licensed childcare provider through the Colorado Department of Human Services.