6 Discipline Tricks Your Mother Never Taught You


There are a thousand ways to raise good children, but there is one common support under all of them: a strong relationship between parent and child. In building the relationship with your child it is important to remember humans are a species of hierarchy and we do best when we have robust guidance and leadership.

You, the parents, are the boss, and there is great comfort in that for children.

As the boss may you encounter tantrums and sibling rivalry. There will be bedtime issues, getting dressed stubbornness, and refusal to clean up after themselves. These issues, and more, are all part of the territory in your small kingdom, and it helps to have a few strategies in place to keep things moving forward in the direction you desire. Here are a few of my favorite discipline tricks that help both to keep your relationship intact and keep you in the driver’s seat.

Make a list with your child on a large piece of paper of the things he can decide: What book to read, what clothes to wear, what to have for breakfast, what to play with, for example. Make a list on another piece of paper of things that you decide: when to go to bed, when to brush teeth, buying a toy or candy at the supermarket, etc. Put things on your list that there tend to be issues with. Tape the lists in a prominent place and when there is an issue (“I don’t want to go to bed!”) simply say Let’s look at the list and see who gets to decide that. This one works even with pre-readers
Try the Brer Rabbit approach. “Do NOT brush your teeth, we want them to stay dirty.” “ You are not allowed to drink all that milk.” “DON’T close your eyes! Keep them open, you need to stay awake”
Sibling Rivalry: Derail the complaint. When little sister is getting grief from her big brother, acknowledge the complaint and tell her to come and help with an interesting task (pour the milk, cut the apples, sort loose change…) you want to stay out of the small conflicts between them as much as possible
Use stories! Even if you invent them. Stories inform, are cautionary tales, and illuminate a point. If he refuses to put on shoes, tell the story of a girl who didn’t put on shoes and she stepped on glass and had to get stitches. If she is mean to her friend tell her how when you were little, a girl was mean to you (say how)and it made you so sad you went to bed. There is nothing like a story to emphasize your position. For ideas, read Aesop’s Fables
Give your child choices:  do you want to put the toys away now with my help, or later by yourself? Do you want to put your shoes on first or your coat? Make the choices yours, they will believe it is theirs.  Choices always offer empowerment instead of alienation

  • Use the word come, not go.  “Come to your room for a minute,” instead of “Go to your room”.  “Come to the car (your chair for dinner, to me…”).  The word come sounds like an invitation.  The word go sounds like a command waiting for defiance


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