a charity supporting parents & carers of challenging children

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Tips for parents - Discipline

Stopping behaviour you don’t want and encouraging behaviour you do want.

Stopping behaviour you don’t want

Planning ahead

Children need to understand the rules so don’t make them up as you go along. Try to plan your house rules so that. Children know what they are.

Make rules and commands clear

Rules and commands need to be clear and precise, short and simple. Telling a child to ‘be good’ does not tell the child what is or isn’t expected of them.

Involve your children

When deciding on the house rules let your children have some input into what they think is an acceptable consequence for their unacceptable behaviour.

Be realistic

Only give punishments that you can carry through and don’t threaten unrealistic punishments (you’re grounded for life). Only give rewards that you can afford and make them small and immediate.

Be consistent

If you don’t stick to the rules, your children will learn that if they ignore them, you will probably give in.


Children need lots of praise to show them what behaviours you like. Don’t ignore your children when they are quiet and playing nicely, praise them. If you child does something nice say ‘thank you for…’

Use If/when….Then….

If you want your child to do something, try ‘when you have had your bath, then I will read you a story’.


Rewards need to be simple, practical and fast

Be realistic

Don’t expect perfection. If your child has started something, you have the choice of whether to criticise them for not finishing or praising them for starting.

Pick your battles

Does it matter if your child’s bedroom is a mess, you can always shut the door

Spend time together

Try to spend at least ten minutes a day playing with your child. Discipline isn’t enough; you need to have some good times together.