How to Handle Punishment

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Certain actions on your part will help discipline your child. The most important thing you can remember about discipline is that if you are not consistent, it probably won’t work. Sending your child to time-out for snatching a toy from her friend during a play date won't reinforce the right lesson if you don’t send her to time-out for taking toys from her sibling at home.

  • Use natural consequences when possible, advises Kids Health. For example, say you keep reminding your child to bring you her field trip permission form to sign, but she keeps telling you she will later. Instead of calling her teacher and promising to stop by the day it is due, let the matter go. Let your child suffer the consequence of not submitting a signed permission slip. She may learn a more valuable lesson by experiencing this suffering for herself instead of just being told about it.

  • Take away your child’s privileges to discipline her, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. Give one warning and then follow through if your child does not listen. For example, if you ask your daughter to stop hitting her sister, but she doesn’t, tell her this behavior has lost her the privilege of going outside to play the rest of the day.

  • Keep your punishments realistic, advises Kids Health. For example, if your daughter is misbehaving and you tell her that if she doesn’t stop she’ll never go to another slumber party ever again, you aren’t constructively disciplining her. If you cannot effectively enforce the punishment you threaten your child with, you lose ground.

  • Avoid spanking as a form of discipline, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. While you might want to spank your child because you believe that type of discipline worked on you, spanking does nothing more than teach your child that physical aggression is acceptable behavior. Children who are spanked are more likely to grow up and suffer from depression, substance abuse, physical abuse and even violence.

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