October 15, 2003
Dr. Phil explains some of the most common discipline mistakes parents make and how to avoid them.
Losing Your Temper
When you habitually yell at your children, they can end up yelling back at you. Children are actually more responsive to calm requests and commands.
Disagreeing on Rules
Never disagree on discipline in front of your children. Parents must present a united front to their kids when enforcing rules. Otherwise, they will quickly learn how to “divide and conquer.”
Treating Children as Small Adults
Although you want your children to know that they are heard, you shouldn’t make the mistake of letting them have an equal say in the rules of the household. This is a parent/child relationship, not a democracy. As children get older, parents can explain the reasoning behind their decisions.
Bribery is not a healthy or effective form of motivation for children. You want your children to learn right from wrong regardless of whether or not there is a reward for behaving in an appropriate way.
Be careful of praising your children too much or too little. Appropriate praise can be healthy and build self-esteem, but if overused, it can leave a child feeling inadequate when he/she doesn’t receive it. Give affirmation for positive behavior and hopefully, your child will repeat the good behaviors that bring appreciation.
It’s important that parents are consistent with discipline in order to avoid making their children confused about guidelines and consequences. For example, if action A leads to consequence B, it needs to do so all of the time.
The punishment should be a natural and logical consequence of the punishable behavior. If the punishment isn’t fair, you can lose the opportunity to “teach” your child through the act of disciplining because your child’s focus will be on the unfair punishment.