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How to Punish a Defiant Older Child

by Tiffany Raiford, studioD

Time-outs were a simple and often effective method of punishment when your children were smaller but now that they are older you may find yourself in need of a few alternative forms of punishment. The point of discipline is to help change a behavior, but it won’t work if you aren’t consistent. Disciplining her for talking back to you when you’re in the middle of store and ignoring her when she does it at home won’t encourage her to change her behavior.

Use natural consequences to discipline your child, advises KidsHealth. Say you tell your 10-year-old repeatedly to remember to put his baseball glove away when he’s done playing with it in the backyard because it’s going to rain and he chooses not to listen. Instead of punishing him by yelling or sending him to his room, let him suffer the natural consequence of having to use a wet glove at his game in the morning. It’ll probably be uncomfortable and gross and he probably won’t like it. Older kids are more likely to learn from a personal experience than from a lecture.

Take away privileges that your older child enjoys, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. If your daughter enjoys watching a particular television show every night before bed, don’t allow her to do it when she misbehaves. However, when you enforce this punishment, you must remember only to take away privileges, not necessities such as food.

Think about the discipline you want to enforce with your older child before you speak it, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. The key is to keep from making threats regarding punishment that you cannot keep. If in the heat of the moment you tell your son that you are never taking him to his friend’s house again, you better be willing to enforce that consequence. If you don’t, he learns that your words do not always turn into actions and he doesn’t learn anything about the consequences of his misbehaviors.

Make the consequences as predictable as possible, advises Dr. Phil McGraw, mental health professional and talk show host. Your child is more likely to behave when she feels she has some measure of control over her life. By telling her that if she behaves a certain way she will be punished in this particular way, she has the control to decide she doesn’t want to suffer that consequence, and her behavior is more likely to improve.

Ground your defiant child for the weekend. Don't allow her to play outside, use the computer or visit her friends. Keep the grounding period short rather than unreasonably long to make the most impact.

About the Author

Tiffany Raiford has several years of experience writing freelance. Her writing focuses primarily on articles relating to parenting, pregnancy and travel. Raiford is a graduate of Saint Petersburg College in Florida.

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