Hi! I'm Coach Franny, and I empower families with challenging children to come together as problem solving teams through a Mindful-Ish® approach to parenting.
It’s frustrating when your child doesn’t listen to you. But when your child doesn’t listen to you and doesn’t react to any repercussions, it can be nothing short of infuriating. So, how do you discipline a child who doesn’t care about consequences?
The good news is that challenging behaviors are common in young children. It’s normal for them to test boundaries and misbehave. The even better news is that there are effective ways to reduce disrespectful behavior and encourage positive change. In this article, we’re going to unpack effective discipline strategies so that together we can Make Shift Happen™.
🤝 Small changes lead to big victories. GameTime is a professionally led online membership program that helps parents just like you learn how to manage challenging behaviors and unleash your best parenting self with a dedicated team by your side.
Many parents use “consequences” and “punishment” interchangeably. Time-outs, loss of privileges, confiscating possessions, and early bedtime are common strategies that parents use to stop bad behaviors, such as lying or talking back.
Yet, many children don’t respond to traditional punishment. They may remain indifferent or pay attention to you only for a few minutes before going back to engaging in undesirable behavior. In some cases, your child may not even take you seriously and resort to ignoring you or laughing at you.
There are multiple reasons why traditional punishment is often met with indifference and doesn’t lead to any positive long-term results.
→ It doesn’t teach your child any new skills. Children misbehave because they don’t know a better way to handle themselves in the situation. To change the child’s behavior, you may need to teach them stronger problem-solving and social skills. Time-outs and confiscated electronics don’t do that.
→ It can be misguided. The type of consequence you’re using may not make logical sense to your child. For example, if you take your child’s tablet away because they’re fighting bedtime, it may be hard for your child to understand how the consequence relates to the action.
→ It makes your child feel disconnected. Traditional punishments often focus on making a child suffer without helping them understand why their behavior was wrong. Without comprehension, children are less likely to learn from their mistakes.
💡At Mindful-Ish®, our parenting approach doesn’t involve punishment. Instead, it’s focused on helping children learn how to solve problems, develop new skills, and build better connections with natural and imposed consequences.
If you want your child to learn new skills and improve their cognitive development, you should explain or let them experience the direct and logical outcomes of their actions. This is going to help them develop responsibility and understand the cause-and-effect relationship better.
For example, if your child is rude to other children at school, they may not have many friends. If they don’t go to bed on time, they may wake up tired the next day. If your child doesn’t eat breakfast, they might feel hungry and lack energy.
→ Helping your child understand the natural consequences of their actions can help improve their decision-making skills and encourage good behavior.
Teaching children to understand the natural consequences of their actions is a positive discipline strategy, but there’s also room for what is known as “imposed consequences” for children. Imposed consequences are more similar to traditional punishment, so it’s important to use them sparingly and when they’re actually warranted.
For example, maybe your child keeps repeating the same behavior over and over again, such as refusing to do their homework or losing toys every time they take them outside. You can enforce strict boundaries, such as not having any free time until the homework is finished or only using toys inside the house.
→ Imposed consequences can encourage children who already have skills to meet a certain standard using those skills.
Whether you’re wondering how to discipline a 7-year-old or how to discipline a 5-year-old, one of the most important things is to create crystal clear expectations and follow through on them.
📢 Your child should have a roadmap that helps them understand the boundaries of acceptable behavior and the consequences that follow their choices. Clear expectations offer consistency and foster open communication between parents and children.
For example, your child should understand that talking back to parents is unacceptable. If your child is negotiating a later bedtime but starts speaking disrespectfully, the natural consequence is that the bedtime stays the same.
Parenting a challenging child can sometimes feel like a never-ending battle, but your child is not your opponent. There are ways for your family to improve communication, learn new skills, and reach your goals — together.
GameTime is an online membership designed to empower parents in their journey to Mindful-Ish® Parenting. Find long-term, positive solutions to challenging behaviors, anger and aggression, sibling rivalry, and more. Learn more about GameTime here.