Child Psychology: Discipline Mistakes Parents Make and How to Fix Them

Published: 18th June 2015
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To make discipline mistakes is sometimes part of being a parent. Sometimes it takes some knowledge on child psychology to be able to handle your child's bad behaviour the right way. Take a look at these common discipline mistakes most parents make and some suggestions on how to correct them.

1. Not Being Respectful

Parents ask their kids to respect them, but sometimes they forget that respect should be a give-and-take. One of the most common mistakes parents commit when disciplining their children is speaking in angry tone, yellong, or even insulting or cursing their children. The best way to teach children respect is to treat them with respect.

How to fix this: Get down to your kid's eye level and gently but firmly and respectfully discuss the problem. No matter how angry you are, try your very best to be calm. Never yell and your child or belittle him.

2. Disciplining While Angry

Disciplining a child while angry will surely not be effective and would only make matters worse. When disciplining a child while angry about something the child did, the parent is more likely to yell or utter something not really meant but hurtful to the child. The parent also most likely would ventilate other frustrations that he or she may have had on a bad day, and focus anger at something that's not related to the child's behaviour.

How to fix this: Take the necessary time to calm down first and collect thoughts before speaking with the child regarding his poor behaviour. Separate yourself or the child from the current situation by taking a short walk or staying at a quiet place or room to think. Giving your child and yourself some time to reflect on the problem can help you deal with the issue in a calmer way.

3. Being Inconsistent

If you reprimand your child for not keeping his toys after playing one day and then not bother to talk to him about it when his toys are all scattered in the living room for days, only to scold at your child again for not keeping his toys, he's getting an inconsistent message. One of the greatest ways to help kids improve their behaviour is by giving them clear and consistent instructions regarding the things expected from them.

How to fix this: Give him clear and simple direction, and a list of attainable expectations. For example, if you want your child clean his room each week, schedule a specific day he's expected to clean his room. It's best to mark the day on the calendar to remind him and help him get used to it. Set some rules regarding behaviour and set some consequences for not observing the set rules. You can take away certain privileges or a favourite toy for a definite period of time.

4. Talking or Explaining Too Much

While it's good to talk to your kid about why something he did was not right to help him realize his mistake and do things differently the next time, giving him very long and too detailed explanations about his behaviour isn't ideal. Children, tend to lose track of a lengthy discussion. It can bore or even annoy him, instead of teach and instruct him.

How to fix this: Be straightforward as possible and break it down into basics. In the case of older kids, discuss what went wrong and talk about possible better choices or bahaviour. In the case of younger kids, simply say what the behaviour was and why it was not appropriate.


If the situation goes out of control and you feel you cannot handle it alone, seek help from a professional and expert child psychologist in Melbourne. Visit the website of VCPS to meet friendly and highly-skilled professionals:

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