How to Discipline a Child when Nothing Works

As a child grows, power struggles and boundary testing naturally arise. Parents often use traditional methods of discipline like timeouts and groundings but find themselves at a loss when these methods do not work. Some parents even yell at their children in an attempt to break through but fail to achieve results. When parents find themselves in this situation, it is important that they implement a more logical approach when disciplining their child 2. Parents should realize that effective discipline is about providing the child with knowledge and self-control, rather that imposing punishment and control over the child's life, according to "Paediatrics and Child Health" journal 3.

Have clear expectations. Since children develop at different rates, it is important that you have an idea of what your child is capable of and do not expect too much of her. In some cases, children do not listen because they do not understand what you are asking of them, notes 1.

Set limits. Your child will begin testing you at a certain age, and having rules set before this occurs teaches your child what you expect of him, states 1.

Take privileges that your child values away when she does not respond. When your child ignores a rule or disregards what you have said, this is an effective way to get her attention. Make sure you discuss the reason for this discipline with her, suggests KidsHealth. In doing so, you can open up a dialogue about your child’s behavioral issues.

Avoid giving in to your child. If you give in when he throws a tantrum, you can expect the same behavior to repeat itself the next time you ask your child to do something he does not wish to do.

Provide natural consequences. Although you do not want your child to fail, sometimes allowing the natural consequences of her not completing her homework or staying up too late is the only way to get her to listen, suggests KidsHealth 2.

Be consistent. Once you have set limits, impose them no matter what. In many cases, children will start ignoring their parents as a method of testing the boundaries. If the boundaries do not change, however, the child will soon abandon this technique.

Avoid arguing with the child. The point is to impose immediate consequences rather than to begin a conversation with the child about the issue.


Do not spank or shout at your child, as this can cause him to ignore you.