The Top Mistake Parents Make When Disciplining Their Kids

Child therapist Catherine Knibbs says this common parenting choice only makes things worse.

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Getting your child to listen can be tough. And when they just won't budge, it's tempting to punish them. But do these go-to punishments actually work?

More importantly, do they teach the values and goals you want to instill in your kids?

Child therapist Catherine Knibbs dives into the number one mistake parents make when disciplining their children and what they should do instead.



The Top Mistake Parents Make When Disciplining Their Kids

So, your child isn't listening again? Instead of working on their assignment, they're playing video games. It's frustrating, and you might feel the urge to take away their games or phones as punishment.


"That'll teach them," you think gleefully. Unfortunately, this punishment doesn't work.

RELATED: 5 Scientific Ways To Discipline Your Kids That *Actually* Work

According to the Child Mind Institute, “Taking a teen’s phone away may not be a very effective form of punishment.”

When we take away their phone we are interfering with their social life. Through this, you intentionally create a rift between you and your child.

Your child gets upset because they can't talk to their friends. Then they begin acting colder and more hostile toward you. Even taking away video games has the same effect.

After all, video games can be used to help your child unwind and connect with their school friends. So, what do you do instead?


The best thing you can do is talk to them, says Knibbs. Try to understand where they are coming from. Say something along the lines of, "I get it homework is a drag. I don't blame you for wanting to play video games instead."

After that, question their thought process. "Figure out what their goals are then ask them if they think their goals take hard work," says Kibbs.



RELATED: 5 Big Mistakes Parents Make When They Discipline Their Kids


If they have a YouTuber they look up to relate the question to their role model. Say, "So, you want to be a YouTuber like this person? Do you think their job is always fun and games or do you think part of their job takes hard work? Do you think they enjoy that hard work?"

"Through this line of questioning you can better understand what their motivations are," says Kibbs. With this, you can better encourage them to do their work and use their goals as fuel to inspire them.

Though time-consuming this approach will help your child operate off self-motivation rather than punishment. And you have to consider which approach will benefit your kids in the long run and help them stay consistent.

However, this tip won't make much of a difference if you don't have a solid foundation to build off of. So, how can you strengthen your connection with your child to help them become the best version of themselves?


​How To Better Connect With Your Child

If you want to connect better with your child, you have to show them some love. Licensed therapist Paige Dorn writes, “Human touch and loving affection are needed at every stage of our lives for healthy emotional and neurobiological development.”

Dorn suggests giving your child gentle, loving touches several times a day. Next, assure your child you love them every single day. "Children need to know that even when they make mistakes or aren't at their best, they're still loved," writes Dorn.

Remember to listen and empathize with your child. "When we listen we allow our child to express their feelings," says Dorn. Through this, you can foster mutual respect and love with your child.

Be sure to spend quality time with your child. Whether you play together or go out, spending time together can help build stronger bonds with your child.


mistakes parents make when disciplining their kidsPhoto: dimaberlinphotos via Canva

Finally, have meal time together and spend ten minutes a day without technology. Use this time to speak to your child and reconnect with them.

As parents, it's easy to get sidetracked with everything going on. By dedicating just ten minutes of your day to fully focus on your child, you're prioritizing their emotional well-being.


Everyone makes mistakes, including parents. But by recognizing those mistakes and learning from them, you can build a better, stronger relationship with your child.

RELATED: Parents Want Teachers To Change The Way They Discipline Students At School Because They Let Kids ‘Run All Over Them’ At Home

Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.