How To Discipline Children with Challenging Behavior

One of the most difficult jobs you may face as a parent is disciplining your children, especially when they exhibit particularly challenging behavior. And when your children are at their worst, your temper is usually at its shortest. But the good news is that when you have effective discipline strategies in place, you can turn negative behaviors into positive, learning situations. Here are some things you can try to help your children become well behaved:

  1. Decide on a discipline method you and your spouse will use and come up with some ground rules. Make sure you share this information with your whole family so everyone knows the consequences of breaking the rules.

  • Be consistent in responding to misbehavior so your children will know what to expect each and every time. When you have a discipline plan in place in advance, it will also help you to keep your temper and handle things calmly and coolly.
  • Remember that different children respond to different approaches, so don't feel that you have to use the same strategies with each one. Be flexible in adapting what works best for each personality.
  • Stick to a routine in your household, so the expectations for your children, particularly the younger ones, are clear and understood.
  • Make sure your rules and restrictions are appropriate for your children's ages, abilities and development.
  • Don't be afraid to set limits, even if they make your children upset. Part of your job as a parent is to keep your children safe and teach them how to make smart choices. Remember that you do not have to win a popularity contest with them, but you do need to take care of them to the best of your ability.
  • Reprimand your children when they are not behaving, but be careful not to keep repeating yourself. Give them two tries and then on the third one, enforce the consequence.
  • When your children have outbursts or temper tantrums, ignore them as much as you can as long as they aren't in any danger. By giving in to their demands at such a time, you are only reinforcing the negative behavior.
  • Always hold your own temper in check. As frustrated as you may be, don't let it show. When you yell at your children and seem out of control, you lose your authority and give them the reaction they seek.
  • Remember that children think in the present, so when you punish them for misbehaving, do it on the spot, so they can see the consequence immediately. Don't delay it for later, or it won't have any impact.
  • For older children who don't follow your rules, try withholding privileges such as staying up to watch TV or going out with friends. You can then let them earn these things back by demonstrating positive behavior.

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