6 Discipline Corrections You Can Easily Make

When it comes to disciplining our kids, we will undoubtedly make a few mistakes along the way. 

Cheryl Butler
7-minute read
Episode #360

As parents, we want the best for our kids, and because they don’t come with an owner’s manual, there are plenty of times we navigate unchartered parenting territory by trial and error. 

When a child is testing the waters and giving us grief, there are numerous ways to respond. However, sometimes we might not make the best choices.  When it comes to disciplining we will undoubtedly make a few mistakes along the way but there are certain situations that we should course correct so that we don’t send the wrong message to our kids.

Mighty Mommy has experienced these discipline blunders with her own eight kids, so here are six corrections you can use to make it right.

Tip #1:  Giving Too Many Chances

It's possible to have good intentions about imposing a consequence on a child who is misbehaving or has not followed directions but somehow you just don’t end up following through. For example, you’re at the playground with a group of moms and their kids and it’s finally time to go home and get ready for dinner. You say, “Jake, it’s time to go home for dinner.” Then you continue to talk to the other adults present and five minutes later you give little Jake another shout-out: “Hey, Jake, I told you we have to leave now. Let’s go.” Yet you still go right on talking until it’s just you and another parent. Now you’re exasperated and begin screeching, “Jake, if you don’t get off the slide and come here right this minute so we can go, you’re going to bed right after dinner!”

At this point, Jake has completely tuned you out and instead continues playing happily on the swings.

Try Instead: You honestly can’t blame a child such as Jake for ignoring the requests to leave the playground when he knows you as the parent are not going to follow through. In this situation, a child could easily milk another ½ hour of playing. If you want your child to take you seriously, you have to establish the boundaries and then stay the course. Don’t give extra chances: “Jake, we’re leaving the playground and heading home for dinner. You can go down the slide one more time and then it’s time to leave.” Now you need to be disciplined and leave the conversation with the other adults and smile and walk over to the slide so that Jake knows you really mean that you’re leaving after one last slide. As he is finishing that slide, praise him as he’s landing, “Great job and great listening. We can come back to the playground very soon and play again.” When you consistently show your child that you’re not going to be distracted and give extra chances, your word will soon be golden.  See Also:  How to Make Sure Your Kids Don't Push Your Buttons

Tip #2:  Modeling Inappropriate Behavior

We want our kids to treat others with respect and kindness but what about those times when you’re out shopping and someone cuts you in line at the deli or cuts you off in traffic? Are you able to keep your cool and grin and bear it, or do you fly off the handle and make a rude comment (loudly under your breath) to the elderly lady who pushed her way in front of you at the deli counter? Do you lay on the horn when things don’t go your way when you’re driving?

Try Instead:  Remember that you always have an audience when your kids are in your presence (or within earshot of you!). We’re human so we’re going to get irritated and speak harshly or display a temper now and then, but just as soon as it happens and you catch yourself, stop and apologize in front of your kids. “Mommy is really sorry that she just got so upset when that lady cut us off in the store. Even though it wasn’t her turn, I shouldn’t have made a mean face at her.” By explaining why you’re sorry to your kids, you demonstrate that we need to be held accountable for our actions.  See Also:  9 Crucial Lifeskills to Teach Your Child

Tip #3:  Focusing on the Negative

As a rule, kids want to please others, especially their parents. When we get caught up with our daily to-do lists, juggling the kid’s schedules, caring for our homes, working part or full-time, and trying to make time for our spouses, never mind caring for ourselves, it’s easy to get caught up with what’s not right, and it’s usually our kids who are at the receiving end of hearing our complaints. 

“You never make your bed,” or “Why is your coat on the floor?” or “You still haven’t finished your homework even though you’ve had over an hour to complete it?” or “I wouldn’t wear my hair like that if I were you.” We may think that pointing out what’s not right or what’s not being done is a motivator but in truth, it’s just the opposite—too many negative comments turn people off—including our kids.

Try Instead:  It’s OK to let a child know when he’s done something wrong, but it’s how we tell them that can make the difference. Using a negative and judgmental tone when you’re trying to get your child to change a behavior or take care of a chore will ultimately backfire. “That’s great that you’re going to make your bed before you leave for school everyday” sends the message that you have confidence in your child that she will take care of this chore rather than criticizing how she “never makes her bed.” You can also ask a question, such as “What’s going on that’s preventing you from completing your homework assignment?” to put a more caring spin on the situation rather than belittling your child.  See Also:  5 Ways to Speak Positively to Children


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.