13 Mistakes When Disciplining Our Children

13 Mistakes When Disciplining Our Children
Elena Sanz Martín

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Disciplining our children is one of the trickiest parts of parenting, yet it’s also one of our most important responsibilities.

The following are some common mistakes we make when disciplining our children at home.

Conveniently avoiding disciplining our children

1. Not following established rulesFor example, you might tell your child that they can’t watch television until they’ve finished their homework. But if you let them watch television before they’ve finished, the rule holds no meaning.

W hen the rules aren’t followed to the letter, children will be confused about authority. You’ll be giving them conflicting messages that aren’t consistent.

2. Disciplining our children too harshly for their age. Before disciplining, we should keep their age in mind. Different ages require different types of correction.

Tone of voice and appropriate behavior to expect can vary depending on age. However, it’s always important to make sure the rules you establish are followed.

3. Shouting when giving directions. Using an overly loud tone of voice isn’t the best way to get your children to do what you want. The unconscious reaction to shouting is to resist the instructions.

4. Using timeouts too often. Time outs are very effective for your children to calm down and reflect on unacceptable actions.

However, using them too often or for prolonged periods of time makes them less effective. Remember that timeouts should last one minute for every year of age.

13 Mistakes When Disciplining Our Children

5. Not being specific. When your child behaves inappropriately, let them know with your words what action shouldn’t be repeated. Clearly explain what the problem was.

6. Ignoring the educational value of correction. The purpose of correcting a child is so that they understand what not to do.

If you don’t reflect while you’re explaining what not to do, any action that you take will be less effective.

7. Reacting without love. It’s essential that prior to disciplining a child you have an emotional bond. Your children should know that they are loved unconditionally, including when they’ve done something bad.

Discipline should not make them feel emotionally distant from you.

13 Mistakes When Disciplining Our Children

8. Giving them rewards to get them to behave. Offering them a candy or a gift in exchange for a good attitude will work in the short term but won’t have longstanding effects. The reward should be the satisfaction of doing things correctly. 

9. Bringing up previous mistakes. Each situation is different and unique. When you’re correcting your child, you should focus on what is happening in the present moment.

10. Making it too personal. Corrections should focus on behavior and not on the individual. Avoid using adjectives that define them as “bad,” “unfocused,” “disorganized,” and others.

The corrections you make should be free of personal criticism.

11. Not following your own rules. It doesn’t make sense for you to shout when asking for silence. Parents are role models for their children and their attitudes are imitated by their children.

Put the values and actions that you want your children to portray into practice.

12. Punishing them for something you didn’t see. Especially in sibling wars, it’s easy to give orders and punishments without knowing the full situation.

Make sure you know the whole story before deciding how to handle it.

13. Not getting to the root of the problem. Before lecturing your children for not doing something that you asked, ensure there is no underlying reason that has prohibited them from doing so.

Evaluate the circumstances to help them make the right decision in each instance.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.