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Kids not listening? Here’s how to parent like a pro.
What no one tells you about disciplining kids is that it’s hard to tell when kids need discipline. Today’s day and age, kids have a lot. We’re always looking to give our children more. But the reality is, they have so much stuff, they don’t know where to begin. And the more stuff they get, the more demanding they become. Then there’s the issue of spoiling and suddenly, your child is a brat before your eyes. When did it become an issue for our kids to be so rotten? Just yesterday, weren’t they just the perfect little angels?
And because we spoil our kids so much, it’s hard to find a good guideline to disciplining them and knowing what’s appropriate for their age. Do you spank? Maybe they need time outs? Maybe discipline is the wrong answer. Then again, did they just throw that temper tantrum in front of you at the store for the tenth time? Here’s a quick guide to disciplining your kids and knowing when it’s appropriate.
What no one tells you about disciplining kids is that it’s easier than ever!
Punishment According To Age
0-1 year old:
I am going to be blunt on this one. If you have a newborn or a child who hasn’t even made it to 1 yet, there’s no reason to be disciplining your kids! This is a crucial development time, and these kids are going to cry, scream and probably crawl into some trouble. The reality is, these kids are struggling to learn everything from eating, sleeping and movement. Spanking and punishing this age group is actually abuse.
Are you going to yell from time to time? Yes you will. But please try your hardest to not yell at this age. You could damage their ears, cause bonding issues that can cause the child to become distant, and even worse, it’s going to cause you more harm than help. We all get worn out, tired, and just have bad days. It happens. Just understand that disciplining a newborn, infant or barely a toddler is always a big, fat no!
18 months-3 year old:
This age is where kids are still exploring, but they might start to venture into some serious trouble. The first response for every parent is always, “No!” The reality is the word “no” has a very vague concept to a small child. Saying “no” over and over again has no impact because the word “no” has no meaning behind it. It’s important to use power words with emphasis on the tone. That’s all fancy talk for find a word and give it a meaning with how you say it.
For example, I was in the kitchen one time with my oldest son. I was cooking something in a skillet, and I turned the stove off. I removed the skillet, but the glass top burner was still hot. My oldest son thought he was cooking like mommy and started pounding on the glass top away from the hot burner. I yelled loudly, “Stop! Hot! Hurt!” But he didn’t listen, and he smacked right in the middle of the hot burner and burned his hand. He moved it quickly, but was screaming in pain. I moved him to the sink and poured cold water over the sore hand. I explained, “Hot. Hurt. You are hurting because the stove was hot.” He cried and cried, and I cuddled him.
In a week, his hand was like new with no more redness and one tiny blister. A few weeks later, he went to remove the plug to a lamp, and I yelled, “Stop! Hot! Hurt!” And he immediately stopped. The reality is he had associated his stove accident to the new incident, the electric cord, and realized, “Hey! That’s going to hurt!” And he stopped.
So why did I yell? Nobody likes being yelled at as a kid or an adult. It’s associated with emotional pain and sometimes physical (ear pain). Yelling in that exact moment made it easier for him to understand. Pain bad. Mom good.
Time outs are also effective. This age really responds to timeouts more than most other age groups. Timeouts are usually geared toward taking them away from the playtime they so desperately want. And no play is a disaster for a toddler! There are two types of timeouts we use in our household, toy time outs and traditional timeouts.
Toy Timeouts verses Traditional Timeouts
Power words are good and everything, but they’re not the solution to everything. When you have a child that keeps repeating a bad behavior, power words just don’t work. That’s where timeouts come in handy. Time outs are where someone places the child in a corner or somewhere away from fun activities. It’s where you teach your child, “Hey, when you do that bad thing, you get this for punishment.” And at this age, it’s super effective.
There are two time outs I recommend. The first is called Toy Timeout. This is where instead of putting your child in timeout, you take a child and put it up somewhere they cannot play with it for a certain amount of time. My recommendation for this age is about 5 minutes. If the child continues to do bad behavior after the toy time out, increase the toy time out by 5 minutes each instance. For example, your child has their favorite toy, and they are playing. They decide they’re going to get another toy, but this toy, they want to flush down the toilet. You take the toy away. So the child goes and gets another toy to do the same thing. Take the favorite toy away and the problem toys, and place them in toy time out. Find somewhere the child cannot get it.
If this timeout method doesn’t work, try The Traditional Timeout. This is where you park your kid in a corner. They either stand there or sit in a chair. I recommend 1 minute for every year. If they’re 18 months old, they get 1 minute and 30 seconds because they are a year and a half old. If they are two, they get two minutes. And on up as they age. This works great in solving fighting between siblings, bad behavior like my youngest son finding a jar of marshmallow cream while I was in the shower, etc. Timeouts work! Use them!
4-6 years old
Timeouts can still work for this age range, but they’re starting to need a little more disciplining. This is where you introduce grounding. Grounding is where you take away something the kids love for a set period of time. No, I’m not talking the week or month long stuff. But grounding your kids from Netflix for an hour or two at this age range is a critical hit! Timeouts become easier to escape, and let’s be honest. It’s easier to take the remote away for a couple of hours verses chasing the kids all over the house. Do not ground this age by taking away presents, birthday parties, holiday celebrations, etc. If they don’t watch t.v., tell them they can’t go outside and blow bubbles for an hour. Just be effective and use what they love to help ensure the right habits.
Spanking is appropriate for this age range, too. Frequent outbursts and inappropriate behavior can quickly be solved by spanking. Here’s how to appropriately spank. Let’s say you’re in a retail store, and your child gets mad that they didn’t get their way. They decide they’re going to shelf clear some boxes of gelatin and mess up the floor. While they’re having their tantrum, grab them gently but firmly from the front pushing their side against your body. This ensures they won’t hit you or run away. Spank only on the buttocks area no more than 3 times. Make sure these are firm hits but not hard enough to bruise or cause damage. Spanking anywhere else on the body is inappropriate and abusive behavior. No one should be smacked on the back, face, arms, legs or stomach areas. You should not ever injure any private parts.
I know this is going to start a controversy, but I don’t believe in using belts, whips or objects outside of the hands. This instills an unnecessary fear in the child, and while you want them to respect you, you don’t want to be thought of as a terror. Spanking is a form of punishment not a form of abuse. My opinion is using objects enforces that abuse is okay. We want our kids to be corrected not beaten.
Kids look to us as their role models. If we beat them, they will beat us. After correcting your child, find other activities to keep you guys engaged and bonded to each other.
7-12 years old
This age is where timeouts are no longer appropriate. Kids laugh at you in this stage, and going to time out is more of a reward than a punishment. Spanking works a little bit, but nothing hurts like grounding. This is where grounding becomes more appropriate than any other disciplining technique.
Grounding can be an effective tool because this age is where they’re starting to develop real interests and new ideas. Taking away Pokemon, for example, for 2-5 days is going to be a critical hit to your gamer child. Or no My Little Pony for your Pegasister or Brony child. Yes those are real terms for real fans. I digress!
When you ground your child, you need to do it in a strategic manner. For example, my oldest son decided that he was too smart to do his homework in 3rd grade. So he told us for a week that he didn’t have any homework. We receive a letter from the teacher stating that he hasn’t been active in class or turning in his assignments. Come to find out, he had decided he was too smart for homework. So we grounded him from Netflix and all electronics for a week. I told him he could catch up on his accelerated reader. He could do his homework or chores. Netflix was not needed.
13-18 years old
What no one tells you about disciplining kids, especially teenagers, is that it changes every few years. This age is difficult to punish, but I can tell you from what I have learned parenting and teaching. This is a critical age before adulthood, so it’s important to know what is going on before you can discipline your kids.
First, if your child is smarting off and being rude, you need to know that their emotional health is not okay. They are vulnerable to low self esteem and problems at school because their social life. Drugs and alcohol don’t even come close to the real issue. Kids start these behaviors because they have so much hurt and pain inside. They don’t care if they live or die nor do they care if they hurt others. In fact, hurting others, especially mom and dad, is what they want. Teens are looking for others who feel their pain to find some sort of purpose.
Teens begin to yell and become violent when they feel depressed. It’s also a good indicator that there’s some kind of bullying going on. Cyberbullying is the worst kind out there. No one can see unless they’re sending or receiving the texts. Sometimes it’s email or instant messenger. It’s incredibly difficult if there’s private groups and conversations on social media. The problem with Cyberbullying is there are few signs. But you can find out more by clicking here.
Once you have established the mental health factor, another thing that your teens could be experiencing is just boredom. Teenagers, especially middle school and early high school become so bored because they’re stuck between being a kid and being an adult. Being a kid means you’re still playing with toys which is starting to become completely uncool. If teens view themselves as an adult, to them, it means you have lots of responsibilities and, the golden ticket, respect! So your teen is literally stuck trying to figure out exactly where they fit in.
Kids in our society really don’t know when childhood ends and adulthood begins. Honestly, it’s confusing with factors like the military, college, and finding your place in the workforce. What no one tells you about disciplining kids, especially teens, is that you have to be careful not to humiliate the mature side of your child. Earlier stages in life, kids had to learn things. Then as they learned, they had to figure out the right way to do things. And as they grew, they figured out ways to get out of stuff. Now you have a more mature child trying to figure out how to grow up and be an adult. And they only have a few years!
Give teens more household responsibilities. I’m not talking about chores exactly. Increase the chore load when they have truly been bad. But I’m talking about increase their involvement in paying bills. There’s no reason for them to know the credit card bills. But it’s okay to introduce your kids to the water, electric bill and rent/mortgage bills. Why? At some point in time, they’re about to have those responsibilities, and you want them ready for the real world. Help them understand that you aren’t made of money. You have these bills to pay. “Here’s your phone bill, honey. And your insurance, too!”
Don’t overwhelm them with every piece of debt you have, but teach them to write checks with old checks that are no longer good. Teach them what a ledger is and why you need to use it to keep track of your money. Teach them how to save money in a bank and to use a coupon at the grocery store or restaurant. You’ll thank yourself later when everyone wonders, “Why are your kids so great? Mine still live at home!” And it may never happen exactly like this, but your kids will thank you at some point as an adult. Maybe it’s just a nod or a situation that they handled really well in front of you. It’s still counts as a “Thanks, Mom!” Take it and run.
Nobody wants to be the bad guy. But I think it’s even worse to have bad kids that get into all kinds of trouble just because nobody took the time to really teach them right from wrong. I know it’s not easy being a parent, but you need to congratulate yourself! You’ve done so well, and you’re looking to improve as a parent. This article is about empowering you that you’re a great mom or dad or guardian! You got this! Things may have changed over the decades, but loving our kids and wanting them to be great adults hasn’t gone out of style. For more great articles, keep coming back here and checking your email. We don’t want you to miss any more great tips and parenting advice!