No, is ok.

2011-11-27 14.39.46Worryingly, I think disciplining children is an area where our modern society falters. Obviously we know that corporal punishment does not work. In my opinion, hitting or slapping your child as a form of discipline is unnesscessary and ineffective. However, the ‘softly, softly’ approach can lead to precocious, unmannerly and downright rude children – traits we wouldn’t find endearing in anyone, let alone in our children.

I guess what I am suggesting is to ‘spare the rod’ but don’t ‘spoil the child’. I have always firmly believed that I would never, ever hit my children. Then one day last Summer, I was pushed to the limit and instinctively slapped my child across the face. They were stunned and I was devastated. I couldn’t believe that I had lost control and done the one thing I always swore blind I would never do. I can now appreciate how people resort to the occasional slap – I dont agree with it, but I absolutely understand it. Our children will test us and push us to the brink, and we need to have disciplinary measures in place so that they don’t push us over the edge. Once you lose control of your temper, you lose control of the situation.

So at what age do you start to discipline your little one? As the title suggests, it is okay to say ‘no’ to your baby. When your baby throws a toy, upends his dinner or hits another child, you act. You may be reading this thinking ‘but that is just what babies do, I can’t be giving out to them all the time’. Yes, these are all examples of typical infant behaviour. They are testing their boundaries and it is up to us as their parents and guardians to teach them these boundaries. Taking steps to encourage good behaviour in your infant will help you immeasurably during the terrible-twos (a misnomer by the way, as this joyful period in your child’s life usually starts around 18 months), and all the way through childhood. Encouraging good behaviour from an early age will stand to your child their entire life.

The main mistake we make in disciplining our children is biting their heads off for something one day, and then letting that exact thing slide the very next day. Whatever the behaviour you are trying to correct, you must (and this is essential) always use the same measures every time your child misbehaves. There are various methods of disciplining children but here are some general ‘do’s and don’ts’ that may help you along the way.


  1. Say No: it is not a bad word and it is important for your child to hear it when their behaviour is unacceptable.
  2. Count to 10: you want to be calm when dealing with the situation so as to avoid overdoing it.
  3. Explain why: there is no point in correcting your child if they don’t understand what they did wrong.
  4. Act immediately: children live in the present – berating them for something they did last night is a waste of time.
  5. Use positivity: when telling them not to hit Sean, for example, offer them a more positive solution
  6. Ensure the punishment meets the crime: locking them in the attic for ripping a book may be a little extreme!
  7. Reassure while correcting: your child needs to know they can come to you with the worst news so reassure them that, although what they did was wrong, you understand their actions. They’ll still need to be corrected however!
  8. Follow through: whatever the punishment is, follow through and then move on.
  9. Be consistent: correct your child every time they need correcting, and not just when you have had enough.


  1. Make excuses: no matter where the behaviour stems from, it still needs to be corrected.
  2. Correct your child in front of their peers: take your child aside to correct them; if you do it in front of their mates, they will be so embarassed they will not hear what you are saying.
  3. Fly off the handle: you will inevitably end up going over the top, so calm down first.
  4. Retread old ground: once you have dealt with them, assume your child has learnt their lesson and stop referring to it – all this will do is undermine their self-confidence.
  5. Make hollow threats: the one way to make a mockery of your discipline is to threaten something that you have no intention of doing.
  6. Give mixed messages: shouting at them that it is not okay to shout for example!

There is an onus on us to help our children to become adults that will enhance the society we live in. Discipline is an absolute must if we are even attempting to achieve this.


Thanks for reading


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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Keeping the Beaker Half-Full! | BabySteps

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