Children's Reactions to Tough Love From Parents

by Dosser Handron

Discipline is an important aspect in a child’s upbringing. However, it is important to find a balance between being an affectionate parent and a tough disciplinarian. Tough love helps instill discipline without making the children afraid of you. Your children may resist your attempts at being a disciplinarian, which makes disciplining them difficult. Understanding their reactions helps you handle the situation.

Tough Love

Tough love is a form of parenting that seeks to strike a balance between strict discipline and affection. Parents who believe in tough love often use phrases like "I am doing this because I love you" or "We have to correct this mistake so you grow up to be a responsible adult." Tough love helps instill discipline and responsibility in children. It also helps build self-esteem and encourages respectful behavior.


Children get angry every time they are under punishment. They will often direct the anger to the parent, the caregiver or other children in the house. You should help the child redirect the anger by explaining the mistake and the subsequent punishment. The child may also think you are angry with him and subsequently become angry with himself, according to the Child Development Institute. After the punishment, let the child apologize and make him understand you were angry at his mistake, not at him.


Children understand mistakes they make and often throw tantrums to avoid punishment. The tantrums depend on the age; for example, young children will cry, while older children will walk out or shout at you. You should ignore the child for a while until he settles down, then administer the punishment. Giving attention to the tantrum encourages the child to behave badly and makes it hard for you to administer punishment. After the tantrum, however, you can punish the child and get him to understand the mistake.


Tough love helps instill discipline in children at a young age. However, as children grow up, they become rebellious and will often answer back or refuse punishment. Communication and consistency helps children understand that actions have consequences. Additionally, you should be affectionate toward your children. You should also set rules and carefully outline the consequences early. As children grow older, you can involve them in making the rules and selecting the punishments. This makes the children differentiate between acceptable and non-acceptable behavior.

About the Author

Dosser Handron is a practicing psychologist and writer.She served as a columnist for the "Tides" and now contributes to various websites. Dosser holds a PhD in psychology from University of South Carolina.

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