Understanding Discipline Myths

February 14, 2019
Understanding Discipline Myths

There are lots of myths about which punishments work. This week, we’ve broken down a few of the most popular. Read below to understand a few effective and healthy tools.

Myth #1 – Punishment changes bad behavior.

Even though you may feel like punishment works, it usually only curbs the behavior momentarily. As your child adapts to your punishment, unwanted behaviors tend to return faster. So, the best way to get your child to do what you want is to reward desired behaviors with praise and positive attention.

Myth #2 – Repeated requests lead to better behavior.

We have high hopes that if we just keep reminding our kids to do something, eventually they will. But repeated requests usually have the reverse effect. Not only do repeated requests lose their effect on kids, but the act of nagging also affects parents’ behavior for the worse, making your desired outcome even less likely. When your requests are specific, clear, and calm, you’ll get much better results!

Myth #3– Explanations will stop unwanted behavior.

Explaining why a behavior is wrong is key in improving kids’ understanding and building their IQ, but is rarely effective for changing unwanted behavior. This pertains to adults as well, who, for example, know all the reasons why it’s unhealthy to smoke but do so anyway. More effective tools for teaching general principles like “we should share,” are to reward your child’s positive behavior in situations where he chooses to share with others, and give immediate consequences for unacceptable behavior like hitting and biting.

Myth #4– Misbehaving kids are being manipulative.

What we see as being manipulative is often just our children’s tendency toward misbehavior that we may have accidentally reinforced. For example, if your child hits you, and you give them your attention by picking them up, holding them, or explaining why hitting is wrong, they quickly learn that to get your undivided attention, they only need to hit. We eventually label this behavior as “manipulative”, even though that was certainly not your child’s initial intention. They simply wanted your attention and got it!

For more information on effective strategies for young children, see here

Content created in partnership with
Seedlings Group


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