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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.



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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.


August 30, 2014



Keep it hot (or cold)! No one likes cold soup or warm, wilted salad. Use a thermos or ice pack in your child's lunch box to help keep his lunch fresh until it's time to eat.


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