Effective Discipline Strategies

The purpose of parental discipline is to train children. Consistent discipline, administered with love, will help children to grow into responsible adults. Parents should not punish out of frustration but take the time to determine when limits are necessary and appropriate. By doing this children will grow up in an environment suitable for moral growth as well as emotional stability. Proverbs 29:17 says “Discipline your son and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.”

No parent wants to be the bad guy, so finding a balance can sometimes be tough. As a parent you have a tremendous opportunity with your child. Children can be curious, active and will at times lack attention. It can be frustrating when a parent and a child’s temperament doesn’t match. The busyness of life such as work, church, sports, etc can make parenting even more tougher.

Understand that discipline is not about spanking. It is very easy to get locked into that mode. Remember a look can be just as effective. I know that is what I had to do most of the time when my children were growing up. Now discipline is important and appropriate of course. Children do much better with structure. Teach children how to understand the boundaries and the consequences. There is a place for discipline, however, when overdone, it will damage the soul of the child. Having a good relationship with your child is so very important. Rules with relationship fuels respect. Rules without a relationship fuels rebellion.

So why do Children do what they do? It is important to realize that childhood irresponsibility is normal. For example an 8 year old forgetting his bike in the rain. However, willful disobedience is when a child refuses to to pick up his bike. Parents sometimes teach the children just the rules, but they also need to teach them to treat one another with love, respect and grace. Children’s brains mirror what we do. So we need to be a good example for them.

Willful defiance would be children that are belligerent {I am not doing it} and have a strong temperament. A difficult Temperament deals with a child that has a low attention span, high activity level and doesn’t really know how to handle new situations or transitions well. Parents can become very frustrated in these situations and will say something like “I love my child, but I don’t like him/her.” “Or he/she is driving me crazy.” Children are like sponges so family stressors are absorbed. You need to let your child know that you are accessible. They need to know that you as a parent are okay and that they can come to you no matter what.

If a child feels threatened and not safe, they will withdraw, have anxiety and become clingy. Or they are angry and defiant. Normal discipline will not work at this point. Great parenting does not work when the attachment relationship is wounded. Anxiety and anger go hand in hand when security is gone.

Here are some things you as a parent can do. Spend One-on-One time with your child, playing with them, without orders or commands. Create an environment for moral growth. Make rules and limits very clear. Teach them the reasoning behind the rules. Discern between childhood irresponsibility and willful defiance. Avoid making requests that they cannot fulfill. Lastly use correction that is appropriate for the offense. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, it can be tough but oh so worth it.


Paula W. Thomas, BMHC

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