How Do You Discipline Your Children?

How Do You Discipline Your Children?

Every family and child is different, and so there’s no one “right” way to help kids learn responsibility and modify their behaviour for the better. What method(s) do you use?

Photo by Julie Facine

Your discipline style or technique might depend on a number of factors, including your child’s age, the kind of behaviour you want to teach or minimize, and your child’s temperament. (To raise happy children, your parenting approach should match their personalities.)

Keep in mind also, that discipline isn’t always about punishment, but rather about raising kids to become self-controlled and respectful. WebMD has an excellent article about different discipline tactics, including rewarding good behaviour and taking away privileges. But we’d like to ask you: What methods do you find effective for your family?


  • by playing “Wack-a-mole” with their behinds
    actually, i thought it was funny, but i don’t have kids.

  • discipline isn’t always about punishment, but rather about raising kids to become self-controlled and respectfulBloody hell… There’s an entire generation out there that really missed out on the right kind of discipline then…! You can’t go anywhere anymore, with out seeing teenagers on upwards, acting like spoilt, ignorant, disrespectful little shits…! And the language…! They’re not all Bogans either…!

    • I think that every generation says this about the one that comes after it… even more so about 2 generations after.

      I’m an X, and I also find that there are many disrespectful and disengaged gen y-ers around. But I also work with some awesome, lovely y-ers.

      • Yeah, that’s true to an extent, but I’ve been around long enough to see the difference between the last generation and this one, and I really can notice the difference in the level of discipline. Bogans not withstanding, (they are in a class of their own when it come to public behaviour) this latest bunch of kids have very little respect and no bloody manners. Sorry, but that’s how I see it. My son is in his mid twenties now, and he was brought up to show respect, and it shows. He wasn’t thrashed either, just brought up understanding where the line is and the consequences of crossing it..! πŸ™‚

        • So says Timmahh… πŸ˜‰

          I’m guessing you remember all those same things being said by baby boomers about shows like South Park and the people who watch them? It really is all about perspective ^_^

          • I friggin love South Park and other shows which show the same irreverence… As for perspective, let me guess, you are either Gen X or Y…? If so, you have no idea, if not, you aren’t getting out enough…!! As far as telling people that you are right, and they are just not looking at it in the right way, that just speaks of your own lack of perspective…

          • Actually I was mainly poking fun at the irony I wasn’t really having a go, I like South Park too (in doses but still like it :))

            Although it is a bit rough to say anyone under 53 (that would be Gen X or younger) ‘has no idea’…One might even say that’s a bit….disrespectful πŸ˜‰

            *edit* Sorry I forgot to answer your question >_<. Yes I am Gen X but I really don’t think that means I’m not entitled to an opinion.

        • I understand, but the world has changed. In the generation you were brought up in, it was also ok to come home and give your wife a bit of a backhander if she gave you some “lip”.

          There’s more to a lack of discipline than just smacking, as others have pointed out, there are plenty of little turds that get smacked, and many good kids who don’t.

          Society as a whole has a lot to answer for – the alienation and individualism that has come from a generation that has grown up being parented by Television probably has lead to a lack of empathy.

          Is that the new generation’s fault, or the generation that plonked them in front of the TV?

          Blaming all of the issues with discipline on smacking is only looking at a tiny part of the big picture.

          • You’re talking about two different types of animal here..! The kind that comes home a smacks the missus around, is still here. The difference is that women are a little more empowered these days, but it still happens. Whilst I agree that TV isn’t the best babysitter, I was around four or five when we got our first TV, Somewhere around 1963’ish, and I grew up in front of the bloody thing, but all in all, I haven’t gone on a rampage yet…! My parents still taught me and my siblings where the line was…! I also have a decent perspective on the changes throughout those intervening years, so telling me that I can’t see it is kind of rude..!

          • I just have a different opinion. It’s really defensive when we are having a productive discussion to start going on with “telling me I can’t see it is kind of rude”. This is all about respectful difference of opinion.

            We’ve differed on many topics and agreed on others in the past @Timmahh. I express my opinion with examples, it’s valid for you to see things differently. It’s not being “rude” for me to express mine.

            As for perspective, let me guess, you are either Gen X or Y…? If so, you have no ideaThat is rude!

          • Yeah I wasn’t trying to be rude, I just get a bit crusty when an argument starts to get out of hand.. as for the GenY Gen X thing… that’s a valid question and pertinent to the conversation… I notice you didn’t say one way or the other about yourself..! πŸ™‚

          • @Timmahh We can agree on South Park.
            And (form above):
            I’m an XThe quote was from your conversation with @chaoticlusts.
            How surprising this was a hot topic.

  • A good smack will go a long way. I’m over this nanny state rubbish which has left a entire Generation of Disrespectful kids.

    My brother can’t go a day at school without kids yelling at teachers. throwing stuff at teachers. all sorts of stuff. they think they are entitled to everything.

    • My sister is a teacher and she’s never had anything thrown at her. I’d be interested to know which school your brother teachers at and what grade the kids are.

      • I am a teacher (on parenting leave, hence posting in the middle of the day). I’m popular with students and not antagonistic. I’ve been featured on 3 excellence in teaching videos for my employer, Education Queensland (including two for claim management). In not bragging, I’m qualifying my next statement so no-one can say “you’re probably just a jerk who picks on kids.” I’m genuinely not.

        I’ve been spat on, been assaulted twice (once with a weapon) and it’s a rare week when I’m not told to F_off or called a Cu_t (in fact, I adjust my workouts based on whether I get called an FingC or a fat C). Do I work at a low socio-economic school? Yes. Is it a big school? About 800 kids.

        I had a kid throw a book at me a couple of weeks ago when I asked her to grab a late note. She didn’t want to walk and I told her that she needed to get one, as it’s school policy. It was a bloody good shot … Sconned me in the forehead.

    • I’ve always believed that the only people who smack their kids are those who are too ignorant to know better. Smacking’s the easy way out.

      • Got kids, Dman? Tell us about them. Of be genuinely interested in knowing about their academic results, clubs and organisations. Keep it completely anonymous, but be honest.

        I’d be very interested in what discipline discipline you do use.

        • I wasn’t smacked. I am well mannered and well liked in my high paying, sought-after job. I graduated in the top three of my undergraduate degree, and have continued this through with my postgraduate studies. I have bought an apartment with my long term girlfriend, whom I don’t argue with. I ride to work, and exercise daily.

          Punishment doesn’t work anywhere near as well as love, support and consideration. Smacking an adult is illegal, why shouldn’t it be illegal to do the same to a child? These are the people that are often exploited or abused and need our care.

      • I disagree with that thought, but we have different approaches to these things.

        What is your approach?

        You have a screaming or very naughty 3 year old and won’t clam down or won’t behave – he is acting out and being a little shit, your approach to this?

        • Disclaimer for you and @GTE: I don’t have kids of my own. However I also don’t think that you need to have kids to know that smacking is inherently wrong.

          I have relatives who are avid smackers and all it seems to accomplish is that post smacking, the kid cries for a bit, then does some other naughty thing, and the cycle repeats itself. These same relatives (and others who I’ve seen smack their kids) are also ignorant bogans who, as one put it, “would punch someone in the mouth if they tried to tell him how to raise his kids”. Setting a great example there. No prizes for guessing that he was also smacked as a kid.

          I also know parents who rather than smacking, choose to withhold things from their kids if they misbehave. E.g. no ice cream, taking away the video game console, etc. These kids are far better behaved and well mannered than the brats who get smacked. Obviously I’m over simplifying it and there are of course factors other than disciplinary style for why these kids have turned out the way they have, but it remains that smacking seems to be far more common among parents of a lower socio-economic background, yet these kids are statistically the ones more likely to end up in trouble as they get older. Seems like smacking just plain doesn’t work.

          • I don’t advocate smacking kids for simple disciplinary reasons, but there are times when a child needs to know that they have crossed a line, and understand the consequences. There’s a difference between discipline and abuse, I think you may be getting the two things mixed up…!

          • I know there’s a difference between smacking and abuse, and (as far as I know), the smackers I mentioned don’t actually physically abuse their kids. However that doesn’t change the fact that smacking seems to be ineffective, in which case you’re hitting your kids for no good reason.

          • in which case you’re hitting your kids for no good reasonTrust me when I tell you that an adult who doesn’t smack willy nilly, will have a bloody good reason to actually lay a hand on a child’s ass. A child that runs onto a street without looking, needs to know where that particular line is…. Saying “johnny, don’t do that” aint gonna cut it…!

          • I think we can both agree that you’re talking about the bottom feeders of the world here. What you diffractive is not discipline, but punishment. I’ve certainly seen my fair share of people who smack ineffectually because it was from a position of punishing wrongdoing, rather than training and correction. My sons are polite, well behaved and we’ll adjusted. I don’t beat them and I’m always open to suggestions, but I’ve also seen the results of parents who’ve tried to use the ‘no ice cream’ method. Unless it’s supported by a foundational framework of love, consistency and clear boundaries … It’s as useless as flogging them. If a parent is going to flog their kids, I agree … They ought to be prosecuted – but smacking from a basis of discipline and flogging through anger or frustration are completely different.

          • Unless it’s supported by a foundational framework of love, consistency and clear boundaries … It’s as useless as flogging them.+1 to that.

          • I think the main limitation with smacking as a method of discipline is its limited effectiveness in the long term. It might work on a two year old, mean nothing to a 9 year old, and good luck smacking a teenager – you’re likely to get hit in return. Using methods that are relevant to the appropriate behaviour are more effective and more easily adapted as children grow (be it reward chart, timeout, withdrawing privileges, etc). It’s also important to teach them how to self-regulate their behaviour and emotions.

        • Um, a time-out.
          No dessert tonight.
          No Ipad.
          Not getting a sticker in their good book.
          Talking to them and explaining why their actions are disruptive.

          There are many approaches that use both the withholding of rewards, or the removal of privileges that can be effective.

          • we do sticker chart and confiscation of electronics, 3ds, ipad, computer use or internet.
            and also just going to bed early

        • There is a difference between a frustrated child throwing a tantrum, and a child who have behaviour problems. It’s always a good idea to check with GPs and other health professionals if a child’s behaviour is causing disruption to their development or learning, is violent, or is unusual for their age. Three year olds have tantrums because they lack the ability to regulate their emotions, and have limited capacity to talk about them. A 10 year old should not be behaving the same way.

          1. Think about the situation and your response BEFORE it deteroriates. Set out clear expectations for each situation you go into, and understand what triggers tantrums. For examply, don’t take a tired, hungry toddler to the supermarket and then tell them they can’t eat the biscuits you just put in the trolley. Be realistic with your expectations – don’t promise things you don’t intend to give, or offer things they can’t have.

          2. Don’t escalate. Yelling, smacking and fighting just make everything worse. Be the adult, stay calm and don’t let the three year old push your buttons. A deep breath makes things better – teach this to your kids and practise it yourself. “We’re going to sit here until you’ve calmed down and can talk to me”. This is hard to do, especially when you’re tired, or out in public – you are doing your best to ignore the tantrum and people are tut-tutting because you’re not “doing anything”.

          3. Set a good example. Kids watch EVERYTHING you do. If your default behaviour is to rant, rave and yell at people when you don’t get what you want, then your kids will copy you.

          Finally, reward the good behaviour – praise them when they get it right, even if it’s small like remembering to say thank you. If they only get noticed when they scream, then that’s what they’ll do.

          Discipline isn’t easy, it’s bloody hard work and it never ends. I have my own three year old, and I’m a teacher too.

    • Yes because nothing has gone wrong with teaching kids that the way to deal with something that annoys you is hitting it…..

      I’ve met people who were ‘disciplined’ regularly by their parents who were and still are complete shits and others who were never hit that are polite and kind. Just because you like to hit things doesn’t mean it’s the answer.

  • Before the anti-spanking (even the word ‘spanking’ is in-Australian) wowsers weigh in: I was smacked (although, in retrospect, not often enough). I smack my children. I am firm, fair and measured in my approach. My wife and I have a policy of never smacking when we’re angry or upset. We speak to our sons, have them clearly articulate what they did wrong, explain that that is the reason they are being smacked and then smack, comfort, reinforce love and move on. They aren’t abused and they are well-adjusted and settled.

    • You aren’t concerned that you are teaching your children that the way to resolve conflict is with physical intervention?

  • I’m in the using force, ie smacking, is not the solution camp. Respect can be taught with good discipline, reward and punishment structures that don’t resort to smacking.

    So my model is based on the PPP (Positive Parenting Program) model. This is the model taught by Queensland Health in assisting parents who have problems with their parenting.

    What I really have an issue with, is smacking out of anger, rather than as a need to teach discipline. We’ve all seen parents at whits ends, who end up going a bit hard with their smacking. Finding this balance is the key reason most evidence based approaches advise that non-corporal methods are the safest approach.

    • We’re clearly in different camps @dunkyboy, but we absolutely agree that smacking out of angerv is *the* problem. I’m on record as saying that we never smackbwhen we’re frustrated or upset. Our whole purpose is the raise them to be honest, honourable and respectful. Yes, I use measured physical corrections but we never hit out of anger and I’m confident that my sons know the difference. In fact, my 2&1/2 year old recently commented “~’s mummy is always yelling and angry. I’m glad you AND mummy don’t yell.”

  • My parents didnt hit me.
    They made me feel like they were dissapointed in me with guilt trips.

    & i used to wish i could get a quick smack on the but like some other people i knew.
    I went through a ratty stage as a teen but i think the technique really makes you think about your actions and works in the long run.

    i now have a 1 year old and hes going to get the same.

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