4 Discipline Problems in Children and How to Deal with Them

Discipline problems in children drive many parents crazy. Sometimes, young children exhibit behavior that can really try their patience.
4 Discipline Problems in Children and How to Deal with Them
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

It’s very common to have discipline problems in children. Parents can often encounter bad behavior that can truly break their patience. In the following article, we’ll look at some of these problems and how to solve them.

Knowing how to handle children’s bad behavior is fundamental; good discipline helps children manage themselves better in life, achieve their goals, and live harmoniously with other people.

Discipline problems in children and how to solve them

Many parents often come for consultation or ask for help with certain behavioral problems in their children. In the following article, we’ll look at some of the most commonly occurring discipline problems in children and what can be done about them.

A mother telling her child off.

My child doesn’t listen and it’s nearly impossible to get them to school in the mornings

Do you have to tell your child a thousand times to get dressed and brush their teeth in order to go to school or anywhere else, but they seem to be in another world and don’t listen to you? In school-age children this behavior is common, but what can you do?

  • Together, you can prepare the clothes for the next day the night before, as well as everything else they need. This will ensure you don’t waste time in the morning doing this.
  • Make a list together of everything they need to do in the morning before going out. If they’re young and can’t read yet, you can use drawings to show them all the steps they need to take so that they don’t forget anything.
  • Don’t tell them off. Let the consequences come naturally. If they haven’t finished dressing, then tell them they’ll have to get dressed in the car. That way, they’ll know to hurry up or they’ll end up arriving at school in their pajamas.
  • Set an alarm and tell them how much time they have to do everything and make sure they have time to do it.

My child is constantly defying me

Your child is defiant, and no matter how much you ask them not to do a certain thing, they still do it. For example, they pick up a toy and throw it; you ask them not to do that, either actively or passively, but they have a tantrum. What can you do in this respect?

  • Give them options about what they can do. For example, if they want to throw something, tell them that they have to go into the garden or park and throw a ball, but that they can’t throw toys inside the house. Always use a firm but calm tone.
  • If they still don’t listen, then explain to them that there’ll be consequences. “If you throw the toy, I’ll take it away from you.” And if they throw it again, immediately pick it up and keep it. In that way, they’ll establish the connection. Even if your child begs you, don’t back down.
  • Always talk to your child with respect and empathy.
  • If they have a tantrum, hug them and reassure them until they calm down.

My child hits other children

Some children hits others when they don’t get their way. If another child takes a toy from them, they hit them. Then, if their parents tell them off, they hit them too. If the child is 6 years old or older, then they’re already strong enough to hurt someone, and so this is a matter of great concern to the parents. What can you do?

  • Don’t smack them, because this isn’t a solution. Smacking isn’t going to correct the child’s behavior.
  • Help them to find another way to release their frustration and anger.
  • Find a time when they’re calm, and both parents should talk to them to make it clear that hitting isn’t allowed. Explain what the consequences will be if they do it. Their friends won’t want to play with them, they’ll be punished at school, and will be given a warning etc.
  • Teach them other ways of expressing their feelings. When they feel angry, tell them to go to their room, or somewhere else on their own, to try to calm down.
  • Try to find a good method that they can use for when they feel angry and want to hit someone. This way, every time they feel this way, they’ll use this same method to calm down.
A mother telling off her child.

My child always answers back

Every time you try to discipline your child, they laugh at you and answer back. Moreover, this doesn’t only happen at home; they’ve also spoken to the teacher in the same way because they didn’t like what they were doing at school. What are the solutions for this behavior?

  • When you’re with them and they start to react in this way, then immediately tell them that it’s never OK to insult you or anyone else. Such behavior is intolerable.
  • Stay calm and be firm, both with your voice and your body language. Don’t get irritated, and don’t talk to them until they stop treating you in that way. Say something like: “If you talk to me like that, I won’t reply; when you do so respectfully, then we will talk.”
  • If they continue to be disrespectful, then tell them there’ll be consequences. Keep your word and don’t back down.
  • Every time they address you or anyone else in a respectful way, praise them and reinforce this positive behavior.

Conclusion on discipline problems in children

So, these are some of the discipline problems that we, as parents, may encounter in our children most often. Try some of the solutions that we’ve proposed to you today – the ones that best suit your child.

If this behavior persists, and you find it very difficult to control them, then we recommend that you consult a professional counselor for personalized guidance on what to do in this situation with your child.


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