disciplining a child

5 Common Discipline Strategies Every Dad Should Avoid

Most parents have a basic understanding of the type of structured discipline and consistency that a child needs in order to develop properly. However, parenting can often be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and hard work. Over time, it becomes tempting to let some of those basic proven practices slide for various ‘more convenient’ substitutes.

When correction or discipline is needed, it would be a whole lot easier to just default to one of these more convenient methods to get the result we want from our children. But the problem is that while they may bring about an immediate desired result, they most often work against both you and your child in the long run.

Disciplining a child can be challenging. Here are five common discipline strategies every dad should avoid.

1. Yelling

This is probably one of the most common… parents who seem to think that the louder they get, the more their kids will listen. But deep down, every parent knows that louder voices don’t raise more obedient kids.

In fact, this trains children to know exactly how much they can get away with before their parents reach a “snapping point,” when they know they’d better listen or else. Unfortunately, children know all too well how to play this game, because parents are the ones who’ve taught them the rules.

2. Threats

If yelling doesn’t work, threats often follow. Sentences that start with the words “if you do that again…” become all too common, but most often used only to achieve immediate conformity until another threat has to be given a short while later. One of the great dangers of threat-based parenting is that the stated consequences are very rarely followed through on, and children quickly pick up on the fact that such threats are nothing more than clouds without rain.

3. Bribes

Sometimes, parents will resort to begging and pleading with their children to obey and trying to lure them into obedience with bribery. While there is definitely a proper place for positive incentives in parenting, using bribery as an ongoing form of training teaches children the wrong motivation for proper behavior. If a parent’s ultimate desire is to teach their children proper character and behavior as a way of life, using bribery can cause them to think that they always deserve to get something in return for good behavior.

4. Trickery

This one may not be as common, but I have seen it on multiple occasions, where parents will use the innocent and trusting nature of their child to their advantage. This might include making them believe you’re going to leave them behind if they don’t get a move on it or tricking them into smiling for the camera by telling them to do the opposite, and banking on their disobedience. While trickery may work, especially at young ages, it also often works against what you are trying to accomplish in your parenting.

5. Lying

While parents would never condone their children lying to them, sometimes parents intentionally lie to their children. Don’t tell your kids you’ll give them $100 or take them to Disney Land if they behave in the store if you know full well that you have no intentions of following through on such promises. When a parent promises to do something for an obedient child and then fails to deliver on that promise, they undercut their parenting effectiveness by eroding future trust.

I hope you won’t fall into the trap of any of these bad substitutes for what your children really need – loving correction, consistent discipline, and a parent’s loving example.

Sound Off

Which discipline strategy do you use too often?

Andrew Linder

Andrew is a husband and the father of four awesome kids. He is passionate about intentional parenting and helping other parents and leaders effectively reach the next generation.

  • A Leonori

    This is a great article, but falls a little short. It’s like saying “you can’t get there from here – the road is closed”, and not giving alternate directions. How about some suggestions or a link to an article on effective discipline strategies??? The closing sentence sort of implies such, but doesn’t follow through.

  • Gordon Paisley

    Good list. I would also add guilt as a bad strategy. There is a difference between helping them be considerate of others and condemning them with guilt. They need to be held accountable–with ready availability of forgiveness.

    • BJ_Foster

      Great point Gordon. Very well said.

  • Scott Smyth

    Any problem with threats if they are followed through with? (Not extreme, just things like: “If you do that again, you can’t use the computer tomorrow.”)

    • skydvrboy

      Threats that are followed through on consistently are no longer threats, they are consequences.

    • BJ_Foster

      I think as Andrew defined “Threats” above that wouldn’t be considered a threat. That would be defining the boundaries and clearly outlining the consequences to follow when those boundaries are crossed. That would be an effective strategy in my opinion.

  • George

    I’m sorry, but this is just a useless article. Don’t yell, bribe, threaten, trick your kids. Great. Got it. So, I do wonder if the author has never yelled at his kids? Sometimes you HAVE to yell or raise your voice. That’s a reality. To get their attention, perhaps they’ve been ignoring you, they’re about to do something dangerous or stupid, to break up a fight they’re having, etc. Yelling all the time isn’t good. Yelling or raising your voice when necessary is certainly not a bad thing.

    Threats that you follow through are simply consequences for the child’s actions. Make the threat, and follow through if they do it. I do, and it works.

    I fail to see the problem if you tell you child to frown and they smile for a picture. It’s called being smart and using psychology. Of course you don’t want to constantly be “tricking” your child. If you have to do that, you’ve already screwed up.

    Bribing, sure it’s shouldn’t be a habit.

    But the reality is, we live in the real world. And the real world is messy place. Everyone has their pet theories about raising kids. Or as Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has plan till they get punched in the mouth.” The proof is in the pudding, and if someone is able to raise nice, obedient respectful kids, who are a benefit to society, then they must’ve done something right.

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Huddle up with your kids and ask, “When I yell at you, how does it make you feel?”

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