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12 Discipline Mistakes Most Parents Make and How to Avoid Them

Discipline Mistakes Most Parents Make
Discipline is such a subjective term that it is hard to define a disciplinary course of action. Its vague nature turns disciplining a situation into a reaction test for parents. The undefined guidelines result in some of the common discipline mistakes that most parents make. Here's taking a look at a few parenting mistakes and their solutions.
Mukta Gaikwad
Last Updated: Oct 06, 2017
Mixed race family having rest on the beach
Parenting is...
losing and winning love everyday!
To be a parent is to be judged by the day and loved by the night. It is a job that you sign up for without knowing much about it. The milestone moment when you bring a life into this world, a journey begins for an eternity of learning and teaching.

The change to parenthood does seem daunting to many, leaving couples frazzled and helpless. As joys of parenting double with passing years, so do the challenges. The rapid changes in our lifestyles, grueling careers and smaller families, can make parenthood quite stressful.

Here's taking a look at some of the value lessons for parents and some of the obvious mistakes they must avoid at every stage. These aspects of parenting focus on discipline mistakes most parents make, which can be avoided to raise capable and independent individuals.
Convenient Lies
✘ To practice what we preach, is a rule which is casually ignored by us. And when we ignore it so blatantly, how do we expect our children to follow it? Children learn to lie at a very tender age. It only takes a momentary lapse of honesty from your side for them to start lying. These little curious observers pick up on finer nuances of lying very quickly.
Girl stealing biscuits behind parents
Stories about non-existent monsters, reasons given to teachers for bunking school, making up stories for missing an outing with family friends, hiding something from your spouse, and making excuses to avoid a phone are routine instances where a child picks up lying. As adults, we term these instances as white lies or excuses. However, a mere child of five views them as lies told to avoid important things where a truthful confession would have landed you up in unnecessary trouble. As adults, we can distinguish between truth and lie, but for a child it's a very difficult thing to do. Persistent exposure to these white lies, can convince your child to lie too.
✔ The whole repertoire of lying can be avoided with a little carefulness. As parents, you bear the sole responsibility of being a role model to your child. And should a role model falter, the good work done so far comes crumbling down. Instead of lying in front of your child, excuse yourself and then handle the situation. Give your child an explanation for your behavior, so that he can empathize with you. Dealing with and confronting the reality will give you and your child a chance for an honest talk and help you build a trustworthy relationship. Open communication is a good way of putting forth your side of the story.
Empty Threats
✘ "Stop spilling the food, or I will....!" Threats, warnings, and blackmail are common in every household. Getting children to do chores such as laundry, putting toys back in place, keeping clothes and books in respective racks, completing homework and eating meals on time are a huge task in themselves. Thus, we often resort to warning them with dire consequences. We come up with rigorous consequences such as no TV, no going out, no telephone, no Internet and so on and so forth.
Mother giving advice to daughter
Unfortunately, the warnings are never realized and the threat is, thus, taken lightly. In such cases, the importance and urgency of the instruction is not understood and so the intensity of consequence is diluted. And all that remains of these threats are empty meaningless words.
✔ In such situations, it is important that action is performed instead of just stopping at a threat or warning. No parent likes to play the bad cop, but sometimes it is needed to instill discipline. When you warn a child, all that is heard is that there is second chance and probably a third one too. For instance, when a warning like "eat your dinner, or else there will be no movie time," is repeated, it is heard as a chance to avoid eating until the movie-time is really canceled. The trick is to remind your child of a previous consequence or act immediately on the promised consequence. For instance, "remember what happened when you didn't finish your dinner last night? You had to wash the dishes." A reminder helps in reinforcing the discipline and also makes the task seem important. Once the rule of finishing dinner is clearly understood, there will be no need to draw up these consequences or set these harrowing reminders.
Baneful Bribe
✘ An incentive is a good way of disciplining your child. We think a reward system ensures a good behavior pattern. However, there is a fat chance of this system turning into a bribery. This incorrect motivating style lead children to put their selfish behavior before everything else. When incentives are required to get simple tasks done such as "if you clean your room, you can go out with your friends", you've crossed over to bribery.
Teenager taking money from parent
✔ It is important to help your child to understand that motivation comes from within to do things. An honest explanation of consequences of not doing the things, will help your child to grasp the gravity of the situation. For example, not studying for the exam would definitely result in poor grades and extra classes. The result of not cleaning the room is wasting time in looking for things, along with the possibility of breeding pests. Try to make this talk a conversation, instead of a lecture via monologue. As your child partakes in the conversation, he will also have inputs and takeaways from the talk. Also, a dialog is surefire way of ensuring that your child is paying attention to what you are saying.
Breaking Your Own Rules
✘ Simple rules are always the most difficult ones to follow. For instance, brushing your teeth twice a day is a rule laid down by many parents. But the real question is, how many of them actually follow it? Children mirror negative adult behavior more quickly than the positive behavior. The other simple rules overlooked by us are switching off lights when we leave a room, washing our hands before we eat, saying thank you and please, sharing our things, making our beds and so on.
Children and parent arguing
These rules are a way of imbibing basic discipline, but they go awry when your child begins to question your misplaced actions regarding the same rules.
✔ The first rule of making rules, is to follow them yourself. Besides being a parent, you are also a role model to your child. Hence, the initial lessons of discipline are going to come from you. Live up to the example or the standards that you have set for your child. A rule is followed, if it is assimilated thoroughly. Try to be a part of these disciplinary actions as much as possible to explain its importance to your child. For example, wash your hands together before eating, brushing teeth at nighttime with your child, politely remind your child if the lights have been kept on and encouragingly nudge your child to say a thank you or a please to other people. When a parent also becomes the part of the act, the positive company assures the child and helps him absorb these discipline rules in a healthy way.
Waiting Too Long
✘ Sometimes, we wait a little too long for a certain rule to be followed. We begin to overlook the disobeyed rule with excuses, believing that the child will eventually do it. For example, a rule such as "put your shoes back", gets broken very generously. In the hope that the child will behave, we keep giving the child time to learn until the time of serious punishment sneaks up on us.
Mother scolding to daughter
✔ The child hears this instruction as unimportant and which can be easily ignored. If you tell your child the obvious consequence of putting the shoes back in the rack, it might help. For example, "put your shoes back, or else you will have to polish them again tomorrow" or "put your shoes back, or they will get wet in the rain" are ways in which your child can understand
the reality and act accordingly. These simple modifications in disciplining your child by giving them a dose of reality, makes them feel responsible in the real sense.
Long Lectures
✘ This is the most common discipline mistake made by parents. Giving long lectures, necessary solutions and advice can ruin your relationship with your child beyond repair. Take a moment and imagine how boring and pointless it is, to listen to things you already know. It seems unbearable to listen to solutions and advice you've already worked out for the existing problem. As adults, we come across similar circumstances in our professional lives.
Mother scolding to son
Just as we detest listening to unyielding monologues, your child has also switched off his mind, somewhere after the third sentence.
✔ Yes, it is good idea to talk things through with your child. However, it is important to stick to the point. Being tangential and bringing out misbehavior of the past can create resentment and make your child feel unappreciated. Also, long lectures make your child lose track of things that are being said. Instead of making it a lecture, make it a dialog. Ask your child what exactly happened. Give explanation a chance, negotiate a little and work out a plan to correct the wrong. The more you let your child feel in power and in control of consequences, the easier it is to make them mold into responsible individuals.
Discipline With Anger
✘ Anger is your worst enemy, for it eats up the sanity leaving behind a maddened monster. Misplaced anger, especially with children is the worst mistake a parent can make. While you attempt to discipline your child in a moment of anger, you are most likely to say things you never meant to say. Also, it is a probability that you take out anger of a bad day on them, when your child might not be at fault.
Mother talking with daughter
These can have longstanding repercussions. Disciplining with anger can lead to a rift, filled with mistrust.
✔ As parents, you are your child's only support system. A system which helps them get through any and every hurdle all through their lives. Thus, to avoid a messy situation as such, first deal with your anger, calm down, arrange your thoughts, think your actions through and then act. Escort your child out of the immediate situation and then explain in a calm manner. For example, if your child has failed in a school test, there is no need to reprimand him in front of his friends or the teacher. The same conversation about your concern can be shared while driving back home or while having dinner. It is also important that you help your child find a solution and then work together as a team to achieve the desired results.
Disrespectful Disciplining
✘ Demanding respect comes easy than giving it. As parents, we expect and demand respect from our children towards us and elders. Whereas, respecting your child often gets sidelined. Speaking in a humiliating way to your child in front of others, using harsh words and belittling your child in front of his friends only makes your child emulate your behavior. So, if you find your child being rude or disrespectful, it is time to intervene and introspect as to where it is coming from.
Dad yelling at his son
✔ Instead of reacting to the situation immediately by yelling or screaming at your child in front of an audience, take a moment. Escort your child away from the crowd and then have a one-on-one discussion about the matter. Treat your child like an adult, and try to sort out the situation, just as you would in an office or with another family member. In situations as these, it is important to see that what your child has to say. Discounting the child's point of view, will only worsen the problem and aggravate the misbehavior.
Negative Instructions
✘ "Do not watch television", "do not eat from the bowl", "do not touch the plants", "do not go out right now" and the list of don'ts is bottomless. With endless instructions on what not to do, a curious child begins to wonder what to do! This gets the child frustrated and his imagination can reach a stalemate.
Mother saying to children for not watching tv
As a parent, when you only keep instructing, you are viewed as a barrier in a course of action, while the force that pushes it (your child) only keeps getting stronger. All of this put together results in classic parent-child problem at home.
✔ Take a positive approach at disciplining your child so that the instructions are seen as ways to do things differently. A positive outlook at your child's misbehavior shows him a way in which one is supposed to behave and how time can be put to a constructive use. To begin with, replace all your negations with positive plausible alternatives. For every 'do not', there has to be an option of 'what can be done'. For example, "do not watch television" can be put across as "let's go play outside" or "will you help me with dinner today?" or "how about we complete your art project today?". As you place these choices in front of your child, there is a high possibility that your child will learn to make better decisions and your rapport will strengthen too as you work together.
Punishment Vs. Discipline
✘ A boss who punishes you, does not reward or appreciate you for burning the midnight oil, is neither respected nor liked by his subordinates. He may believe that he is imbibing good discipline by being ruthless. But in reality, his employees are already looking out for new job offers. Similarly, the moment you try to discipline your child with punishment, the purpose will be defeated.
Aggressive parent
Punishment is not a guideline or rule, but a mere repercussion. It is an effect of not adhering to a set boundary or an expectation.
✔ If the main goal of disciplinary actions is to help children regulate their own behavior, then you need to revise your punishing policy. Punishing dissuades a child from learning. A more constructive approach and lateral solutions are good problem-solving choices. An instance of bad behavior must be reciprocated with a good behavior, to make your child understand the difference between the two.
No Discipline Rules At All
✘ There are cases, wherein a household has no rules. The adults and children both behave as they please. There are only two results to this, either the child grows up to be a drifter or he learns the consequences of no rules and begins self-regulation early in life. As the latter is more unlikely, it is crucial for kids to have certain limits or boundaries while growing up.
Children fighting
✔ The main reason why parents begin to discipline children is because they want to raise individual who are responsible, happy, and exercise self-control. For new parents, disciplining is a daunting challenge, as it is their first time into these uncharted waters. Treating a situation as though you would have treated it in an adult life, is the trick to make your rules and regulations work.
One Solution Fits All
✘ With an experience of an older child, parents believe that they are ready to take on another task at disciplining. After all, when the older child is turning out fine, why won't the younger one! However, just as younger child's clothes won't fit the older child and vice versa, the same solution will be a misfit too.
Parents doing argument
✔ Every problem has to have its unique solution. It is very much possible, that if one reacts to a verbal instruction, then the other may understand the same situation only after a consequence. It is imperative to see your children as different individuals. Each child has a different temperament and a unique emotional quotient. Treating them with a difference will make all the difference in their upbringing and your relationship with them.
Disciplining children comes with days of dread and some equally rewarding moments. This continuous process, is filled with learning and teaching for both parent and the child. Teaching good behavior is more about a team effort, than tasks done in isolation. Patience, love, confidence, and positive attitude are the basic ingredients of any and every discipline method you may choose to take up.