Strategies for successful discipline and limit-setting

Setting rules and guidelines for children can be daunting, but is necessary for their social and behavioral development. These strategies can help: 

  • Be consistent. “Yes” means “yes,” and “no” means “no.”
  • Be precise. Provide one-step directions: “Put your blocks in the bucket,” and “Put your shirts in the drawer” instead of, “Put your clothes and toys away.”
  • Be positive. Praise your child when you see them being good. 
  • Be flexible. Provide many opportunities for your child to correct their own behavior. Show them what “being good” means.
  • Be quick. Respond quickly to both good and bad behavior. Timing is important.
  • Be sure. Phrase your request as a statement, not a question – a question implies choice.
  • Be patient. Behavior takes time to change – it can take a week to change problem behavior for every month it has occurred.
  • Be prepared. Problems may increase as you’re trying to change behaviors and meeting with some resistance.
  • Be prompt. Use a timer to set the duration of an activity and when another will start, and stick to it.
  • Be choosy. Pick your battles. It’s better to not make a request because you’re tired than to make the request and give in because you’re too tired to follow through.