How to bring Discipline into your Kids' Life without being Harsh

  • Shilpy Gupta Jun 05, 2018

Mild or harsh treatment? Punishment or Reward? Criticism or Motivation? Parents often find themselves in a dilemma when dealing with their kids. To discipline a child is hard work indeed. You really have to find a balance and not overdo anything.

A gentle swat on the bottom is required sometimes, especially when the kid repeatedly does something that may endanger his/her condition, like running out in the street amidst vehicles. Nonetheless, firmness does not always require harshness.

It is essential to reanalyse the way you administer punishments to teach children the critical lessons in life. After exploring lengthy literature and viewing a million videos on parenting, we learned about the downsides of using too many rewards and punishments to encourage positive behaviour in tots. When you bribe them with treats to obey you, they will end up being gluttonous.

Why not Punishments? 

According to child psychologists, exerting control as one of the methods to discipline a child is not a viable parenting strategy. It:

  • Doesn’t work in future when your kids grow up.
  • Creates resentment and arrogance in them.
  • Makes them stubborn, and they are less likely to listen to your reasoning later.

So, what’s a parent got to do?

If you are one of those shouty parents like me, looking for the right way to teach good behaviour to your kids without being too harsh, you’re in the right place. Let us begin our journey about learning positive parenting. By choosing positive discipline over punishment, you can quickly get your little troublemaker to do what is right. Besides, it is a more respectful way to deal with them. Here is how you do the impossible!

8 Super Easy Ways to Discipline your Kids without Punishing Them!


Distraction works the best with toddlers (mostly 2 to 4 years old) who are less likely to understand your reasoning. So the next time when your tot does not want to go to bed, just lift and place him/her on your shoulders and suggest you both ‘fly at sundown, like mighty dragons to your secret lair.’ Pretend to flap your wings and safely tuck him/her in the bed. Trust me it works wonders!

Playful Games

A bored child is a cranky and whiny child. Imagine the horror when you have to stand in long queues at the supermarket or wait outside the dentist’s clinic for a regular check-up. Rather than scolding him to keep mum, tell them there are people around who can get disturbed. Also, it is the perfect opportunity to silently play some super-cool games, such as rock, paper scissors, I-Spy, Simon Says (if many people are accompanying you).

It is better if you carry one or two games wherever you go. Any game, even if it is a simple one will effectively distract him/her from boredom and prevent others from getting irritated.

Encourage them to observe their Surroundings

Does your toddler get extra whiny or cranky during car rides or in strange, unfamiliar surroundings? Point at random places from inside the car window and tell them where you are. If you are visiting a place unknown to them, point at new things, for instance, the coffee machine in a café and tell them how it prepares the coffee, it is like magic.

The best way to discipline a child is to encourage them to observe people around and ask them questions to know how they perceive things and people. For example, if you see a sweeper sweeping the roadsides, encourage your kid to give a friendly wave. Tell him/her that he/she needs to study hard and be a good and responsible person so they can help the needy people and perhaps help create better job and education opportunities for sweepers and others too.


Everyone loves to hear a beautiful story, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be better if you narrate it with real-life characters, mainly your kid, with an underlying moral or secret message behind it?

For instance, if your naughty munchkin calls fellow playmates names, you can send them on a guilt trip by narrating the story about ‘a boy or a girl who used to tease his/her friends. One day, all his/her friends got sad and decided to abandon him/her. Finally, he/she had no one to play. He/she cried and cried for several hours and then realized his/her mistake and decided to apologize. When he/she said sorry then, his/her friends felt like playing fun games again. That is how they remained friends forever!’

Stories will surely change their perspective and attitude towards other things and people around. Stories are one of the best ways to discipline a child and mould their impressionable minds to learn good values in life.

Structure their Environment

Children are simple-minded beings. You cannot control their behaviour but you can create a positive environment where they can pick up the right things. Arrange for open-ended activities, such as playdates, art or craft classes, swimming, and outdoor group games to engage and encourage participation.

Set up a safe and predictable timetable. Schedule a time slot for each activity: meals, playtime, bedtime, study time and TV time, so they know what to expect when. Try to avoid negative things and people as much as possible. This simple step to have a daily-routine goes a long way in inculcating discipline in a child’s life.

Give them Choices to Induce Decision-making Power in them

Give your little ones as much choices as possible: what to eat, what to wear, what to play and ask them the reason why they went with option A and not B. For example, if they preferred apple over mango, you can tell them it is a good day to eat an apple because ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ Then you can proceed on to tell them the positive benefits of having apples.

Teaching kids the value of independence and flexibility in making decisions will help them decide and fend for themselves. You have to provide them with the room to grow. Making a child responsible is one the best ways to discipline him for life.

Let them Differentiate between Right and Wrong

Making right or wrong choices in life is a very subjective topic. Your right can be wrong for someone else. Do not tell them it is wrong to lie. Narrate the story of ‘a boy who cried wolf’ and after you finish, let them decide if he did right or wrong.

Set Limits but Communicate with them

It is okay to set limits for certain things like staying out until late at night, but you need to communicate, especially with teens to help them open up to you. Do not dismiss their ideas and concerns by forcing your ideas and ethics upon them. Talk to them about their bad and good behaviour why discipline is important in everyday life. Try to find the reasoning behind their behaviour if they contradict you. It will reduce the chances of kids getting obstinate in future.


Do not punish the kid unless he repeats his mistakes countless times, without a care of the world. If at all you need to punish him/her, begin with a mild one. Remember patience is a virtue when dealing with kids! If you consistently follow these eight mantras without blowing up, you can readily bring discipline into your child’s life without being extra mild or too harsh on them.

Until then, Happy Parenting!

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