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As parents, a major part of our job is to discipline our children and help them to grow into the best people possible. However, this can get quite tricky, when your efforts to discipline your child turn out to be fruitless.

While I tend to try to resort to punishment as a last-ditch effort, there are those moments when a time-out is necessary or another form of punishment. However, what I never expected was for my son to shrug off my attempts to discipline him. In most cases, parents who experience this may feel like their child is stubborn or bad. Instead of them being impacted by the punishment, they just smile and act like it’s not a big deal. While for some parents, this may push them to think that more punishment or harsher punishment is necessary, that actually will likely do more harm than good.

For quite a while now, both psychologists and pediatricians alike have agreed that strict and harsh punishment is not only effective- but has been linked to childhood aggression. So, instead of doing that, try these options first.

1. Use common sense consequences.

Natural or common sense consequences are consequences that are the result of their action. Examples of this are if they go outside without a jacket after you told them to put one on, they are stuck feeling cold. If they go to bed late, they are tired throughout their day. If they refuse to clean their room, their favorite toys get lost.

2. Do NOT negotiate.

Whatever you do, do not argue or negotiate. Lay down the line and stand by it. If they continue to argue, send them to their room or walk away for a moment and cool off. If you argue with them, you are giving them control.

3. Time is of the essence.

Waiting weeks to punish your child is not effective. You must do it at the moment, nearly immediately. However, instead of deciding what their punishment or consequences are in the moment, pre-plan and have ideas in mind beforehand.

4. Don’t teach them how to ‘do time.’

If you ground your child for four weeks, they aren’t learning anything valuable, other than how to bide out their time. Instead, focus on grounding them until they achieve a certain outcome. For example, you are grounded until you stop getting in trouble in class for talking over the teacher.

5. Focus on discipline, rather than just punishment.

Discipline and punishment are words used interchangeably, but shouldn’t be. Discipline is teaching your child how to behave correctly and while punishment is often a means to do this, it is not the only way. There are other ways to teach your child, such as explaining the natural consequences of their actions, or simply explaining why they shouldn’t engage in the behaviors in question.

6. Don’t try to appeal to them with a speech.

It might be tempting to give an emotional speech, but trust me, they aren’t going to hear you. For example, if your child is being hateful to their sibling, if you go into a long speech, all they hear is blah, blah, blah. Instead, take their phone or favorite toy and say, “We talk to each other nicely in this home. Until you can do that, you aren’t getting this back.”

7. Stick to consequences that have meaning.

Sit down and make a consequence list, instead of trying to make consequences at the moment. While you want the consequence to be uncomfortable, you don’t want to take it too far. For example, if your son is a teen and has their phone, a very quick way to get their attention is to take it away when they are acting out. Choose a consequence that they will care about.