How to Not Feel Guilty for Punishing Children


A piercing wail and the sound of your toddler pounding his hands and feet on the walls and floors echoes down the hall, traveling all the way from the naughty spot, where you have set your misbehaving child, to the distant room where you sit, waiting for him to calm down. As you listen, willing him to stop so you can release him from the penalty, guilt washes over you. While feeling guilty in situations like this is natural for parents, who instinctually dislike seeing their children upset, it isn’t a productive feeling. Help overcome any guilt you feel and make your discipline more productive and less painful for you and your child.

  • Discipline with proven methods. Your feelings of guilt might be more extreme if you discipline your children by screaming at them or giving them swats on the tush. Swap these discipline procedures out for proven successful ones, like a time-out. If you still feel guilt, ease it by reading up on the effectiveness of the practices you are using.

  • Take a breather when necessary. If your temper leads you to be overly harsh with your little one when disciplining him, you may feel extreme guilt. Avoid this by allowing yourself a time out when you feel your rage rising. Instead of tackling a discipline problem immediately, take five minutes, calm down, then deal with the problem with a more level head.

  • Discipline as a team. If only one parent dispenses the discipline, that parent may be left feeling like the bad cop. Sit down with your parenting partner and create a discipline plan in which both of you play a part, suggests Linda DiProperzio for “Parents” Magazine. Follow this plan to make discipline less guilt-inducing.

  • Remind yourself that you are teaching her real-world coping skills. When your child grows to be an adult and receives punishments -- like the occasional ticket for speeding -- the individual dispensing the punishment won’t care how much she stomps and cries. Ease your twinges of guilt by reminding yourself that you are preparing her for these later-in-life disciplinary incidents, suggests Marie Williams for ParentFurther.


  • Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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