Discipline Considerations Based on Age

Positive parenting includes the element of discipline. Without discipline, children will not learn right from wrong. They will be unable to make productive decisions in life, and success will be hard to achieve. You, as the parent, have the honor of providing unconditional love, acceptance, support, and guidance to your child. You also have the honor (and duty) to provide consistent discipline to your child.

Discipline is very different than punishment. Many times, people get these two terms confused. Punishment is seem when punitive actions are taken such as grounding, scolding, or spanking. Generally, children learn very little from punishment. Discipline, on the other hand, is use to teach children the desired way of behaving through positive and negative consequences that are linked very closely to the action itself. For example, your child should be praised regularly for using manners. That is a positive consequence for acting respectfully. Another example includes revoking your child’s video game privilege for 24 hours for not turning it off when asked. That is a negative consequence for not listening. In both of these situations, discipline is used as a teaching tool to encourage positive behavior choices.

Depending on the age of your child, there are factors to consider along with strategies that work best within each age group. Just as in child development, there are ranges of what is considered as ‘normal’ behavior and which interventions will be successful. You are the expert on your child. The following considerations and age-based suggestions will lead you down the path of success when you cater them to your child’s individual needs.

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Considerations for the 4-5 year old

Considerations for the 6-7 year old

Considerations for the 8-9 year old

Considerations for the 10-11 year old

Considerations for the 12-14 year old

Considerations for the 15-18 year old

Considerations for the 2-3 year old

♥ Use eye contact when speaking to your child so you know that you have their attention
♥ Can follow simple one-step directions
♥ Showing children of this age how to act and how to follow rules is very important for learning
♥ Follow through on what you say. For example, “You’ll get to go outside if you listen to me while I get your dressed.” or “If you hit your brother you will go to time-out”.
♥ Use a calm tone when redirecting your child, giving a warning, or enforcing a consequence

Considerations for the 4-5 year old

♥ Understanding of the rules and how to follow them greatly increases at this age
♥ Can follow simple directions
♥ Wants to please adults
♥ Responds to and understands positive and negative consequence
♥ Testing is expected as they will see if authority figures will follow through with consequences
♥ Use eye contact when speaking to your child so you know that you have their attention.
♥ Although impulse control is getting better, they still need help with managing their feelings and making positive choices.
♥ Showing children of this age how to act and how to follow rules is very important for learning
♥ Rules should be clear, simple and enforced consistently by following through on positive and negative consequences.
♥ Offer you child choices. This supports independence and helps to build problem-solving.
♥ Rules should focus on safety such as staying close to a known adult and keeping hands to oneself
♥ Reinforce the importance of using their words to get their needs met in respectful ways
♥ Front-load your child with what is expected from them in each situation. Front-loading means that you will tell them prior to an environmental change such as going to the grocery store, attending a play date, or any other place/situation.
♥ Responds very well to a daily routine
♥ Is motivated by praise and acknowledgement
♥ Ignore behaviors that are used in an attempt for negative attention. Find something positive in that moment to give attention to.
♥ Distracting or redirecting your child’s attention to something new can be a useful tool when their behaviors are escalating due to a certain situation or if they are doing something that you prefer they stop.
♥ Time out is a very useful consequence. The length of a time out should be no more than 4-5 minutes.
♥ Follow-though on what you say. For example, “You will have to get out of the bath if you keep splashing” or “You will get to pick out a snack if you eat all of your dinner”
♥ Use a calm tone when redirecting your child, giving a warning, or enforcing a consequence
♥ Once a consequence is known and the behavior continues, enforce the consequence immediately.
♥ Consequences should be directly linked to the offense (not eating dinner = no snack; hitting = a time out and an apology)
♥ Never call your child names or hit them. You will teach them that this type of behavior is acceptable.
♥ Being willing to compromise with your child. They should be allowed to voice their opinions and requests.

Considerations for the 6-7 year old

♥ Directions and tasks should be met with greater ease as attention spans at this age continue to improve
♥ Give your child plenty of reassurance and praise as often as possible
♥ Don’t expect perfection. Praise their efforts so they know they are doing well and don’t have to be perfect.
♥ Be consistent as testing of the rules will continue to see if you will follow through with consequences
♥ Follow through on what you said you will do. For example, “You can get a treat from the store for getting up with out a problem this week” or “You can put a sticker on your chart each time you listen to me the first time”
♥ Never call your child names or hit them. You will teach them that this type of behavior is acceptable.
♥ When using time outs, teach the usefulness of walking away from a situation to think, calm down, and to problem-solve.
♥ Teach and practice problem-solving skills to try to avoid conflict.
♥ Keep to a daily routine of school, homework, chores, dinner, etc…
♥ Set up a behavior plan to decrease negative behaviors. Children this age are very eager to work toward desired incentives.
♥ Allow for independent choice making whenever possible.
♥ Ignore behaviors that are used in an attempt for negative attention. Find something positive in that moment to give attention to.
♥ Avoid power struggles by simply stating and a decision has been made and you will be happy to discuss it again later when you are both calm.
♥ Give praise and acknowledgment to positive behavior choices and you will likely see these continue
♥ Role-play social skills and problem-solving for greater learning
♥ Behave and treat others (including your child) the way you expect them to act. You are their greatest role model. They will do what they see you do.
♥ Take the time to talk-out and resolve situations that arise in your child’s life
♥ Use eye contact when speaking to your child so you know that you have their attention.
♥ Although impulse control is getting better, they still need help with managing their feelings and making positive choices.
♥ Showing children of this age how to act and how to follow rules is very important for learning
♥ Rules should be clear, simple and enforced consistently by following through on positive and negative consequences.
♥ Use a calm tone when redirecting your child, giving a warning, or enforcing a consequence
♥ Once a consequence is known and the behavior continues, enforce the consequence immediately.
♥ Consequences should be directly linked to the offense (not eating dinner = no snack; hitting = a time out and an apology)
♥ Offer you child choices. This supports independence and helps to build problem-solving.
♥ Reinforce the importance of using their words to get their needs met in respectful ways
♥ Front-load your child with what is expected from them in each situation. Front-loading means that you will tell them prior to an environmental change such as going to the grocery store, attending a play date, or any other place/situation.
♥ Being willing to compromise with your child. They should be allowed to voice their opinions and requests.

Considerations for the 8-9 year old

♥ Be consistent with the rules, expectations, and related positive and negative consequences. Testing will continue to see if you will follow through.
♥ This aged child is able to adjust better to changes, but still appreciates and responds well to a daily routine
♥ Front-load your child with what is expected from them in each situation. Front-loading means that you will tell them prior to an environmental change such as going to the grocery store, attending a play date, or any other place/situation.
♥ Never call your child names or hit them. You will teach them that this type of behavior is acceptable.
♥ Use eye contact when speaking to your child so you know that you have their attention.
♥ Provide your child with positive attention daily, including time spent just with him or her.
♥ Create a plan together that outlines their duties so that they can feel independent in their daily tasks.
♥ Give choices to empower your child’s decision making abilities. Link
natural consequences into their choices.
♥ Role-play social skills and problem-solving for greater learning
♥ Behave and treat others (including your child) the way you expect them to act. You are their greatest role model. They will do what they see you do.
♥ Plan for better decision making in the future by talking and practicing positive decision making
♥ Phrase your requests in a positive ways. Use your manners and tell you child when they may get in return (If you finish all of your dinner you may pick out desert).
♥ Establish an end time for a negative consequence such as loss of TV time for 24 hours or loss of a video game for 2 days.
♥ Use a calm tone when redirecting your child, giving a warning, or enforcing a consequence
♥ Once a consequence is known and the behavior continues, enforce the consequence immediately.
♥ Consequences should be directly linked to the offense (not eating dinner = no snack; hitting = a time out and an apology)
♥ Follow through on what you said you will do. For example: “You may have a friend over when you finish your homework” or “You will get an extra 15 minutes of TV time for finishing all of your chores by dinner time”
♥ Showing children of this age how to act and how to follow rules is very important for learning
♥ Rules should be clear, simple and enforced consistently by following through on positive and negative consequences.
♥ Offer you child choices. This supports independence and helps to build problem-solving.
♥ Reinforce the importance of using their words to get their needs met in respectful ways
♥ Front-load your child with what is expected from them in each situation. Front-loading means that you will tell them prior to an environmental change such as going to the grocery store, attending a play date, or any other place/situation.
♥ Being willing to compromise with your child. They should be allowed to voice their opinions and requests.

Considerations for the 10-11 year old

♥ Use a calm tone when redirecting your child, giving a warning, or enforcing a consequence
♥ Once a consequence is known and the behavior continues, enforce the consequence immediately.
♥ Consequences should be directly linked to the offense (talking on the phone instead of doing their homework = loss of phone privileges for the next day)
♥ Boundaries and expectations must be consistently and firmly upheld as the drive for independence at this age tends to increase behaviors and testing even more.
♥ Rules should be clear, simple and enforced consistently by following through on positive and negative consequences.
♥ Offer you child choices. This supports independence and helps to build problem-solving.
♥ Reinforce the importance of using their words to get their needs met in respectful ways
♥ Front-load your child with what is expected from them in each situation. Front-loading means that you will tell them prior to an environmental change such as going to the grocery store, attending a play date, or any other place/situation.
♥ Ignore behaviors that are used in an attempt for negative attention. Find something positive in that moment to give attention to.
♥ Develop a contract or behavior plan with your child to help them show responsibility while earning privileges for doing so.
♥ Consequences should be directly linked to the offense (not eating dinner = no snack; hitting = a time out and an apology)
♥ Phrase your requests in a positive ways. Use your manners and tell you child when they may get in return (If you complete all of your chores without being asking this week, you can go the mall with your friends on Saturday).
♥ Establish an end time for a negative consequence such as loss of TV time for 24 hours or loss of a video game for 2 days.
♥ Use a calm tone when redirecting your child, giving a warning, or enforcing a consequence
♥ Once a consequence is known and the behavior continues, enforce the consequence immediately.
♥ Role-play social skills and problem-solving for greater learning
♥ Behave and treat others (including your child) the way you expect them to act. You are their greatest role model. They will do what they see you do.
♥ Never call your child names or hit them. You will teach them that this type of behavior is acceptable.
♥ Use eye contact when speaking to your child so you know that you have their attention.
♥ Being willing to compromise with your child. They should be allowed to voice their opinions and requests.

Considerations for the 12-14 year old

♥ Guide your child in their decision making process.
♥ Behave and treat others (including your child) the way you expect them to act. You are their greatest role model. They will do what they see you do.
♥ Never call your child names or hit them. You will teach them that this type of behavior is acceptable.
♥ Use eye contact when speaking to your child so you know that you have their attention.
♥ Establish clear rules and boundaries. Discuss these with your child as to assure complete understanding of what is expected. For example, no more talking or texting past 10pm means as of 10:01 the phone needs to be off.
♥ Being willing to compromise with your child. They should be allowed to voice their opinions and requests.
♥ Problem-solve situations with your child, ask for their ideas, and decide upon the best solution together.
♥ Restrict your child’s privileges such as screen time or time with friends for behavior that goes against established expectations. Be sure that your child knows the connection between their action and consequence given. Tell them what they need to do to earn their privilege(s) back.

Considerations for the 15-18 year old

♥ Guide your child in their decision making process.
♥ Behave and treat others (including your child) the way you expect them to act. You are their greatest role model. They will do what they see you do.
♥ Talk-out problems with your child and guide them in their choices. Empower them to make their own choice all the while giving them your support.
♥ Never call your child names or hit them. You will teach them that this type of behavior is acceptable.
♥ Use eye contact when speaking to your child so you know that you have their attention.
♥ Establish clear rules and boundaries. Discuss these with your child as to assure complete understanding of what is expected. For example, no more talking or texting past 10pm means as of 10:01 the phone needs to be off.
♥ Being willing to compromise with your child. They are almost an adult and need to be given power in the decision making process.
♥ Avoid power struggles unless it is a safety issue