Home > Mom's Life > Family Relationships > Parent/Child Relationships > Essential Rules of Parenting: Discipline Do's and Dont's

Slideshow Iconslideshows MORE

|

Essential Rules of Parenting: Discipline Do's and Dont's

3 of 7
YoungBoybeingScolded,Yelled

Focus on the Problem, Not the Person


When you tell a child that they are naughty, selfish, lazy, fat, stupid, rude, pushy, careless or anything else, you label them. And if they believe that label (and why shouldn't they -- they're trained to believe what we tell them), they will start to live up to it. They'll think, "There's no point to make an effort, I know I'm lazy." Or "What have I got to lose? They've got me down as naughty anyway." Of course, this won't be a conscious thought process, at least not when they're small. But if you give them a label, they'll live up to it.

What you have to do is condemn their behavior, not them. You can tell them, "That's a selfish thing to do," or "It's very rude to push." That way you're not passing comment on them, but only on their behavior. If at this point you feel like shouting, "But he is lazy!" I'm not telling you you're wrong, though it would be very un-PC of me to admit you could be right. I'm just saying that you should never, ever say so in front of him, or anyone else in case it gets back to him. Save it for your most private thoughts after the third time in a row he goes out without even clearing the table, let alone helping you load the dishwasher.

Positive labels are a different thing entirely. If they're accurate (don't pressure your child by making them live up to something they can't), they likewise encourage your children to behave like their label -- thoughtful, careful, brave, or whatever.

And actually, you can sometimes use these positive labels to reinforce good behavior when they've lapsed: "I was really surprised to see you behave so rudely. I always think of you as a particularly polite person." It reassures her you haven't given up on your positive view of them, so it's not too late to live up to the "polite" label.

Next: If You Lose Your Temper, You're the Loser

More on: Discipline Strategies

From The Rules of Parenting Copyright © 2008, FT Press. Used by permission of FT Press, and Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

To order this book go to Amazon.

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 Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Healthy Smile Checklist for Kids
Have better dental check-ups with this free printable checklist that helps keep your child flossing, brushing, and smiling! Brought to you by Philips Sonicare.

Kindergarten Readiness App
It's kindergarten registration time! Use this interactive kindergarten readiness checklist, complete with fun games and activities, to practice the essential skills your child needs for this next big step. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Top 10 Earth Day Books for Children
Celebrate the environment by reading some of these great children's books about Earth Day, recycling, planting trees, and all things green!

Prom Dress Trends for 2014
Check out 2014 prom dress trends inspired by celebrities’ red carpet looks, but with a price tag under $100!