Teaching children about the consequences of negative behavior is one of the most important jobs that parents have. Choose punishments for your children when you're clear-headed, rather than when you're very angry right after the child disobeys you. Take a breath or a walk around the block before assigning a punishment to ensure that it's fair. No matter how upset you are, never use physical consequences such as spanking and hitting.
Timeouts are appropriate for children from the ages of 3 to 8, according to Kids Health. Designate a spot where children must sit for timeout. Pick a quiet spot free of distractions where you can see children. When a child breaks a rule, lead him to the timeout spot. Set a timer so he can see how long he has left. The rule of thumb is that children should sit for one minute per year of their age. For instance, a 4-year-old sits for four minutes. When time's up, talk to the child about what he did wrong and ask him what he should have done instead.
Punishments that require children to fix their own mistakes teach them about how their actions affect others. These punishments can be appropriate for any age group. When a child hurts someone, whether with her hands or her words, require her to write an apology letter to the person. Children who can't yet write can draw a picture or apologize in person. When a child damages property during a temper tantrum or by ignoring a rule, require her to fix it. She might have to glue a plate back together or do a certain number of chores to pay you back for the damages.
Natural consequences are appropriate for children who are about 9 years old and up, according to Kids Health. This means that children must face the consequences of their own actions, rather than you choosing a punishment. For instance, when a child doesn't do his homework, instead of standing over him while he finishes it and punishing him for not doing it earlier, let him face the consequences that his teacher gives him. If a child steals something, take him back to the store to give it back and talk to the manager. Never let a child face a natural consequence that could put him in danger.
Loss of Privileges
Punishing teenagers can be a major challenge for parents, because children this age want to make their own rules. Taking away privileges can be an effective way to get through to a teenager who has broken a rule. Take away the child's car or cellphone for a day or more, depending on the seriousness of her rule breaking. For many teenagers, just the possibility of being out of touch with friends for one day is enough motivation to follow the rules.