Home > Kids > Behavior and Discipline > Discipline Strategies > Eight Destructive Discipline Techniques

Eight Destructive Discipline Techniques

Here are the destructive eight, all disciplinary approaches to steer well away from, no matter how terrible your child's behavior is. They vary from simply ineffective to very terrible, but what they all have in common is these techniques are all more destructive than constructive. I'm not including these to give you new ideas; they're here to convince you to eliminate them from your disciplinary tool kit.

The following eight “techniques” (tortures?) are not on the path to a well-behaved child:

  • guilt
  • humiliation
  • hurtful talk
  • physical abuse
  • punitive and retaliatory action
  • threats
  • traps
  • withholding affection

Guilty of Imposing Guilt?

“What are you trying to do, kill me?” While there is a positive aspect to guilt (learning to feel guilty when you are doing something wrong is an important aspect of learning self-control), imposing guilt on your child makes her feel resentful, and too self-judgmental. You want your child to have enough negative feedback to stop the misbehavior, you don't want her to wallow, grovel, and feel forever lousy. (Okay, maybe at this precise, angry second you do, but think about it, that's really not what you ultimately want.)

Why do otherwise wonderful parents lay guilt trips on their kids? Sometimes parents do it because it's what their parents did. It's sometimes an attempt to arouse empathy. It doesn't work.

Guilt is especially destructive when imposed on kids at the beginning of adolescence, when they're already deeply self-conscious and self-disparaging.

Humiliation Hurts

Humiliation (and by this I mean those forms of old-fashioned punishment like making a child stand in a corner with a dunce cap on, pulling down his pants and spanking him in public, washing his mouth out with soap, or sending him to bed without dinner) wears down a child's self-image and self-respect.

Humiliation teaches a child that you don't value him. Respect your child—his body, his mind, and his ego. Never underestimate the damage that can be done by humiliating a child. One of the most common triggers of suicide in kids and teenagers is a humiliating experience. His sense of self is a very delicate flower, easily stomped.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Well-Behaved Child © 1999 by Ericka Lutz. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


Top 2015 Halloween Costumes for Kids
Will your child transform into a dinosaur, a superhero, or the latest Disney princess on October 31? Take a look at 2015's hottest Halloween costumes for boys and girls of all ages!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

8 Not-Too-Spooky Halloween Activities for Kids
Halloween can be too scary and gory for preschoolers and kids of all ages. Find non-scary Halloween activities and party ideas that make this creepy holiday more kid-friendly.

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks