Discipline – a quick guide to setting boundaries and consequences.

Discipline in children

Children are looking for boundaries and therefore are constantly testing them. This leads to lots of frustration, friction and increased stress levels in an already stressful home environment. Parents tend to give in, keeping some peace rather than creating boundaries, which is a short term solution creating a long term problem. Children that are used to getting their own way, grow up insecure and become difficult to manage children, that will be an embarrassment where-ever you take them.

As soon as they reach one year, your beautiful little angel loses its wings and turns into a willful, stubborn, individualistic, fearless and selfish little creature. Even though they keep on loving you, your needs are not important to them. They care only about what they want and will do anything and everything to get it. They will continue and wear your patience thin just to get what they want, whether they need it or not. 90% of the screaming and temper tantrums are about manipulation. And unfortunately, giving in only reinforce their behavior by showing them that this behavior is working.

Here are a few principles. Keep your calm. ALWAYS!!!! They cannot reason with a calm parent that is not losing her temper to. You will remain then on top of the situation, rather than being dictated to by your child. Keep a stress ball at hand – you will probably need it.

NEVER give in to a temper tantrum. This teaches them that it works, and therefore the temper tantrum will with more regular intervals be repeated. Turn around and walk away, you cannot reason with a screaming child. Any form attention, good or bad, will drive the behavior.

Set clear boundaries and stick to them. If you promised a certain consequence – then deliver it. Empty threats do not work, they see through it and call your bluff.

The two cornerstones of discipline are:

1.      Consistency

2.      Consequence


Set boundaries and rules and stick to them. This means that both parents follow the same guidelines and these guidelines stay consistent every day. Like driving buckled up. EVERY time that they get into a car they are buckled up. They children knows what to expect and even though they may rebel against it, it creates a safety net for them in their mind.

The second part of consistency is that parents support one another and not take the child’s side against the disciplinarian. If you disagree – discuss it away from the children.


Children need to learn to listen and obey. They hear your words; they even understand them, but often they choose not to listen. Kids will never learn to obey to your words unless it is supported by your actions.

If your child is misbehaving you can:

Tell him what your expectation is and what it is that he is doing wrong.
Follow up by giving a consequence to what will happen if he does it again.

Knowing kids, they will push the boundary and try the naughty thing again, just to see your reaction. And then it is of the utmost importance to follow through with the consequence.

Try to avoid using “’no’’ all the time. We expect our children to listen to our “no” but when they are saying “no” when refusing to go for a bath or eat their food etc. we tend to ignore them. This obviously gives a bit of mixed signals.

Let us take an example: Your son is sitting on the couch and as you walk pass he throws you with a block. Go to him, make eye contact and explain to him what he is doing wrong: “Markus, do not throw mommy with blocks, you are not allowed to throw things at people.” After you told him what he did wrong, give a consequence. ‘If you throw mommy again I will put the blocks away in the cupboard, or I will put you in your naughty corner, or I will take the sweet away, or I will switch off the TV, etc. Get creative with the consequences. It can be anything as long as he does not like it and you will be able to follow through.

At this point your child will most likely try to push the boundaries, and see what will happen if they ignore you. It is natural and normal. You can therefor expect a missile flying your direction. Turn around and speak with a firm voice: “Markus, mommy said that you are not allow to throw people with blocks. I also said that I am going to take your blocks away if you throw them. Therefor your blocks are now going to sleep in the cupboard.” Then calmly pick up the blocks and pack them away.

Most likely there will now be a tantrum following. Ignore the screaming child and under no circumstance give the blocks back.

If you consistently follow through on your promises and set clear boundaries and consequences, your children will get the message sooner or sometimes later, but discipline will become much less of a hair raising experience.

It is not easy, but remember you are not responsible to make your child happy at all times, but rather to raise an obedient loving child.

Good luck and Happy Parenting.