How to Discipline Your Child The Right Way

The job of a parent is complex, demanding, and sometimes overwhelming. One of the most difficult aspects of parenting is figuring out how to best discipline your child. Children are not always compliant with orders or expectations. They may be willful and disobedient, even when we want them to do the best and right thing.

Discipline is essential for children to learn about behavior and develop moral autonomy, but the wrong kind of discipline can have damaging effects on children’s development. There are various styles of discipline that can be used with your kids. The style you implement may depend on your personality and the personality and temperament of the kid.

If you avoid problems, efficiently handle inappropriate behavior, provide negative consequences to help your little ones develop self-control, and model appropriate behavior, you can implement gentle discipline.

Gentle discipline is a form of discipline which focuses more on communication than punishment and teaches children how to take responsibility for their behaviors and learn from mistakes. This blog post will discuss how you can use gentle discipline to discipline your children the right way.

(1) Redirect Your Little One

A child will always be a child, and they will do things that may be undesirable to you. This is a normal part of childhood; instead of punishing them, you can use gentle discipline if you channel a kid’s attention away from something harmful and negative and to something appropriate. 

Sometimes it is possible to prevent an issue from occurring by shifting the little one’s focus. For instance, you might tell your preschooler, “We don’t run in the house, but we can go out to the play yard, can we?” Or, you might take a book that your little one is drawing on and tell them, “We write on paper, dear, not on books. Here is a paper to write your name on.”

(2) Say “yes” When Possible

Sometimes, saying “no” can cause your little one to become frustrated and angry. You can prevent further problems and practice gentle discipline by responding to kids with a simple “yes.”

For instance, you have just started cooking for breakfast, and your cranky toddler wants to know if breakfast is soon. You may say, “Yes, I know you are hungry, but I must cook this first. Why don’t you help me?” Or, for example, when children ask if they can have candy, you might say, “Yes, you can, but after we are done eating.”

(3) Minimize the Opportunity for Temptation

Children are curious beings, and it’s their nature to touch and play with stuff they don’t have permission to touch. So to prevent any problems, removing temptations will work best at times.

For instance, putting away your glass vase protects it from breakage and helps you from having to tell them “stop” or “no.” Another thing you can do is to try replacing the items kids can’t have with meaningful items they can interact with. For example, you may need to put out your porcelain dog collection in a safe place and replace them with smaller, more educational toys such as alphabet blocks or a pegboard.

(4) Make Use of Humor

Young kids are excellent at escalating a situation from calm and peaceful to frustrating instantaneously. One effective way to prevent problems with kids is to use humor.

Humor is an effective tool that works best with children in a gentle discipline scheme. It helps to ease tensions and restore order and calm. Humor is the fastest way to defuse arguments, help little ones calm down, and stop misbehavior.

You don’t need to tell an elaborate joke. You can even make a funny face to end the tension with young kids. When a child is asking something, try answering her in a funny voice. For example, you may try a nasally twang when you say, “A doll? Do you want a new doll? Well, let’s talk about that.”

(5) Keep Your Emotions in Check

Children will always test your boundaries. They can do things to push your buttons and make you angry. No matter how angry they may make you, you must maintain your composure when you are practicing gentle discipline. Losing control of your emotions can scare your kid and make it difficult for them to connect with you.

Here are things to remember when you are in a situation where your emotions could affect you or the situation.

  • Carefully check your emotions and observe how you are feeling. Ask yourself, “How does this make me feel?
  • Take time to cool down before you discipline a child. Avoid any type of discipline if you are angry, tired, stressed, or anxious.
  • Take a walk or excuse yourself from the room if you need to and can do so without leaving kids unattended.
  • If you find yourself in a certain situation where you can’t leave, like a moving vehicle, give yourself a mental break.
  • You can take a few deep breaths to calm yourself by inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply.

(6) Be Careful Not to Shame the Child

A vital part of practicing gentle discipline is showing your little ones respect. Your act of gentle discipline must come from a place of love, not aggression or anger. When you communicate a firm and strong message to your child but do so in a loving way, you are showing them respect.

Humiliation is one way to shame children and make them feel bad about themselves. Children will eventually repeat what they see and experience, and this can lead to further misbehavior in the future.

Here are some ways to practice gentle discipline without shaming:

  • Make use of positive language and encouragement. For instance, you may tell your little one, “I am so proud of how you calmed yourself down just now.”
  • When explaining a consequence to your child, be calm and patient when you do so.
  • Never forget to separate the kids from their actions. You may try saying things such as, “I love you, but I don’t agree with what you did.”
  • Don’t call children ‘bad’ or other names that could damage their self-esteem.

(7) Clearly Define Your Expectations and Consequences

Your child may get confused when they don’t know what to expect. It can be a problem when you are practicing gentle discipline. So think about consequences carefully before executing them. Determine if you are trying to correct, teach, guide, or punish your little one. Point out what you’re trying to achieve with your little one when she misbehaves.

Consider natural consequences. For instance, if your little one throws their food on the floor, a natural consequence is that they have to clean up the mess, or they’ll have to wait to eat and will have to eat what is available. Natural consequences are the ones that will naturally occur in the setting. The child learns what can happen when they misbehave.

(8) Give Your Child the Opportunity to Reflect

One of the best ways to teach a lesson is by allowing your kids to reflect and think about what they have done. This can give them the opportunity to understand their behavior and the consequences involved and consider what children can do differently in the future. Encourage this type of reflection by asking children open-ended questions:

For instance, “Pete, can you tell me why throwing a toy at another child without his permission is not a good thing to do?” or “Pete, do you think you can give examples of what you must do next time to be a respectful little boy?”

(9) Be Honest

The best way to raise an honest kid is, to be honest with yourself. When you commit mistakes, admit them. Owning up to your mistakes will help you practice gentle discipline. It shows your kids that everyone commits mistakes sometimes and the rightful way to handle it when you do.

Admit it to your kids when you do something wrong. For example, you may say, “I’m sorry, but I accidentally dropped and broke John’s mug.” Tell your little one how you will make the situation better. For instance, you might tell them, “I need to apologize to him and buy him a new one since I accidentally broke his.”


The fewer children are rewarded for undesirable behavior, the more likely they are to stop doing it. It is not easy to practice gentle discipline, but once you get used to it and your kids begin to understand what you expect from them and why this effective method will help improve your relationship with your little ones.

Additional Guidelines:

Disciplining a child can be a challenging task, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are some principles that can guide you in disciplining your child in a way that is effective and positive.

(a) Set clear boundaries and rules: Establishing clear rules and consequences for breaking them can help children understand what is expected of them and what will happen if they don’t comply. Be sure to explain the reasons behind the rules.

(b) Use positive reinforcement: Instead of only punishing negative behavior, try to catch your child doing something good and praise them for it. Positive reinforcement can help children feel good about themselves and encourage them to repeat positive behavior.

(c) Keep it age-appropriate: Children of different ages have different developmental needs, so be sure to adjust your discipline techniques accordingly. Younger children, for example, may need more physical guidance and structure, while older children may be better able to understand verbal explanations and reasoning.

(d) Be consistent: Consistency is key when it comes to disciplining children. When you consistently enforce rules and consequences, children learn what they can expect, and they know what will happen if they misbehave.

(e) Show empathy: When disciplining your child, try to put yourself in their shoes. Try to understand what motivated their behavior, and respond to them with empathy and understanding.

(f) Stay calm: Raising your voice or losing your temper will only make the situation worse. Stay calm and composed when disciplining your child, and try to keep the tone of your voice as neutral as possible.

(g) Keep communication open: Encourage your child to express their feelings and talk to you openly. Encourage them to understand their own emotions and behaviors and help them come up with solutions to make amends.

Remember that discipline is an ongoing process, and it will take time and patience to see results. And most importantly, the goal of discipline is not to punish or control a child, but to guide them to make good decisions, take responsibility for their actions, and develop self-discipline.

Author Bio

Andrea Gibbs was born, raised, and still living in New York. She is a work-at-home mom with a background in business development, strategy, and social media marketing. She is a blog contributor at Baby Steps Daycare to motivate and educate other parents about how they can get their children ahead of the game in school.