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How to Discipline your Child Effectively

Parenting tips for effective discipline

We’ve all experienced mealtime battles, temper tantrums and challenging situations as a parent.

Learning to teach your child good behaviour is a tricky journey and requires lots of deep breaths and positive reinforcement. It’s important to teach your children what is right and wrong throughout life. Children learn from you so there is a lot you can do to help your kids.

What is discipline?

Discipline is teaching your child good behaviour, helping your child learn how to behave – and also how not to behave. Putting in ground rules when your children are young can help prevent behaviour problems further on and make family life much calmer.

Discipline tips

Teaching your child discipline doesn’t mean punishment. Quite the opposite – strategies should be positive. They’re built on talking and listening, giving your child tools to behave and regulate themselves to help keep your child stay calm. You can help your child’s behaviour with clear ground rules in a secure setting.

Teaching good behaviour

According to expert advice, the best way to discipline your child is to set ground rules and clear consequences from the outset. But your child also needs to know that he/she has your unconditional love and that you can point your child’s behaviour in the right direction. Other family members can also help and advise your little one. If you have a reward system let your child know how to earn rewards. As your child’s brain development grows you can change the rewards and consequences accordingly.

Setting age-appropriate rules

  • Your child needs to know what behaviour is appropriate, and how this may apply if they are out at a friend’s house, child care, preschool or school
  • As your child grows you can teach them how to manage their own behaviour and develop important skills such as using manners, sharing and asking for help.
  • Toddlers will still be learning how to understand, manage and express their feelings. You may find a reward system and positive reinforcement helps your little one to focus on their behaviour.
  • Everyone has a slightly different approach to discipline. Your rules may differ from your parents Your parenting approach may depend on your parenting style, your child’s stage of development and your child’s temperament.Research shows that physical punishment such as smacking is wrong and should be avoided. Smacking does not set good rules or expectations. Using physical punishment is most likely to see your kids end up with even more challenging behaviour, anxiety or depression. Even if your child is really naughty, may break things try to keep calm.It is a good rule to take some time out for yourself too if needed. Kids will respond better if you are calm during your parenting journey.

Set ground rules

Your parenting style should be positive and set out clear expectations for your kids depending on their age. Focus on what your child can do and respond positively when they do this.

When you see your child behave in a way you expect, praise them. Set a good example by behaving in the same way.

Decide on family rules

A good way to start is by teaching your children what you expect. Children as young as 3 years can help you make the rules and talk about why your family needs them. In fact your child may well feel empowered by ‘coming up’ with rules.

You can tell your children rules such as:

  • We speak nicely to each other.
  • We look after other people.
  • Everyone helps out around the house.
  • We look after our own belongings.

Effective discipline strategies

It is crucial to teach children good behaviour and what is bad behaviour.

Your role is to train and teach your child how to behave, rather than punish them for bad behaviour. Teaching discipline is a long term goal, not a short term strategy. You may find you need to take a few deep breaths but good discipline through set limits and positive parenting is better for your kid’s mental health.

There should be clear natural consequences such as time out for any bad behaviour, but your children need to know their expectations first.

Find the right balance

It’s important you have enough self-control to find the right balance in helping your child There is a fine line between no discipline and being too strict, both of which could be detrimental to your kid’s mental health and well being.

Not enough discipline can leave children feeling insecure and parents feeling out of control. Too much negative discipline, and not enough praise and rewards, might get children behaving well, but out of fear. This can lead to problems with children’s self-esteem and anxiety later in life.

Correct the behaviour

Your child is learning and as their parent you need to show clear expectations of good behaviour.

Be a role model for your child’s behaviour

Children learn by watching your own behaviour. Showing your child the behaviour you like by doing it yourself will help your child learn. For example, if you want to limit screen time, then do this yourself too, model good table manners, tidy up together as a family and encourage participation.

Praise your child for good behaviour

When you notice your child behaving well, sharing, sitting nicely, listening or helping you praise them. Reward with a sticker chart, tell them how this behaviour makes you happy.
When your child gets praise for behaving well, your child is likely to want to keep behaving well.

Use description praise

Descriptive praise is when you tell your child exactly what it is that you like. It’s best for encouraging good behaviour. This is where you describe what is good about their manners.

You can try, ‘Thank you for putting your shoes away Tommy, that really helps Mummy.’

Set clear limits and consequences

Children learn through positive behaviour and clear boundaries. Decide on a consequence for breaking a family rule. For example, if your eight-year old hasn’t done their expected jobs around the house, his or her consequence might be to miss out on a play date.

Plan ahead so your child is aware of the consequences but be clear your child still has unconditional love.

Positive parenting

It’s really important to not yell and hit at your child – physical punishment could be termed as child abuse.

How do you discipline a child that won’t listen? Some experts claim you should ignore the bad behaviour and focus on good behaviour and new skills your kids learn.

Disciplining your kids works best when your child feels secure and is surrounded by warm and loving relationships.

You can model good behaviour with other members of your family. Kids grow to model behaviour they witness within the family.

Discipline at different ages

The ways that you use discipline will change depending on what’s happening for your child at different stages of development. Children will respond differently as they grow and your consequences, such as time outs, will change as your children grow.


Babies do things to test their developing skills. They also enjoy making things happen and see a reaction. They like to touch, pull and move things.

Babies don’t understand what is right or wrong and so negative consequences or punishment doesn’t work with babies.

They need to be shown gentle rules of how to behave, they will learn by example.


As your child grows to a toddler they will be learning but not always able to express their needs and wants. They will struggle with showing their feelings and will be testing out new skills and independence. Positive reinforcement and descriptive praise work really well with toddlers.

You can help by modelling good behaviour, ensuring your toddler feels secure in showing their feelings and you can distract and plan ahead for challenging situations.


At this age, your kids will start understanding good and bad behaviour. they will be testing out how to behave and learn more about any consequences.

Your child will test out different behaviours, and they might behave in certain ways more than once as they learn about consequences. Be clear and consistent with your rules in a bid to discipline your preschooler.

You can help your preschooler by setting boundaries and being clear about the behaviour you want to see.

Discipline school-age children

As your child starts school and meets different children and adults, they may become a little confused about expectations. It is worth speaking to your child’s teacher to see what rules they have in place, how they reward behaviour and any consequences they have in place.

You can help your child by encouraging expected behaviour at home and as your kids grow, give them age-appropriate expectations. remember to keep giving praise when you see something you like.

Remember, discipline is long term

Discipling your child is a job that takes time and patience. Be kind to yourself, It’s a learning journey for you as much as your child. Seek help if you need it and ask for guidance from a Health Practioner or your GP.

Give yourself a break

Parenting can be tough. If you ever feel out of control and cross give yourself a break and some time out. Make sure your child is in a safe place and take some time out, take some deep breaths, call a friend, or just sit and be kind to yourself.

You can even tell your child gently that you need to take time out, you can teach children discipline strategies and how to regulate their emotions, which is a really important life skill to have.

If you have older children let them help by praising and teaching your younger children what is right and wrong.

When you feel better be kind to yourself and your child. Don’t be cross with yourself if you witness negative behaviour, especially at a special event such as a child’s birthday.

Think about what you could have done differently and try to do it the next time. If you regret that maybe you shouted at your child, say sorry to your child. Explain how you feel what you could do better. This helps your child feel safe and secure and you are modelling good behaviour.

Kate the toddler review

The author: Jose Martinez

Hi there! My name is Jose, and I’m a proud dad to a beautiful 4 year old. As a parent, I know firsthand how overwhelming it can be to navigate the world of parenting and child-rearing. There are so many choices to make, from the foods we feed our little ones to the toys we buy them to the clothes they wear. But one thing that’s always been important to me is finding the best products available for my child.

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