How to Discipline a Disobedient Child: 5 Steps - MakeSureHow
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Time-outs are one of the most effective discipline techniques for children ages 2-5.

As a parent, you know you need to discipline your child when he disobeys your rules. After all, what reason does he have to obey them if there are no consequences when he doesn't? Discipline techniques include positive reinforcement, redirecting, time-outs, withholding privileges and grounding. Not all techniques are effective for all age groups, so its important that you choose an appropriate discipline technique for your child's age.


  1. 1
    Explain to your child that his behavior is not allowed and why it is not allowed before taking disciplinary action. Sometimes he just needs to be reminded of the rules you have laid out. You may also need to remind him how he should behave. Instead of saying, "don't yell" try "please use your inside voice."
  2. 2
    Send your child to an area of your home free of distractions for a time-out if she continues to misbehave. In order for this technique to be effective, your child must understand why she is being disciplined. Most experts agree that time-outs should last for one minute for each year of age. So a 3-year-old child would have a three-minute timeout. Others believe that time-outs for children age 4 and up should last as long as it takes for the child to calm down in an effort to teach self-regulation. Regardless of length, it's best to use a timer so you and your child know when the time-out is over. If your child walks away before the timer runs out, send her back to her spot and reset the timer.
  3. 3
    Remove a privilege, such as the use of a toy, taking part in an activity or watching television. Use this technique in lieu of time-outs or as an alternate form of discipline. Base the length of time you remove a privilege on the age of the child. Two hours is appropriate for a child between the ages of 2 and 3, and three hours is appropriate for a child between the ages of 4 to 5. Again, in order for this technique to be effective, your child must understand why he is being disciplined. This technique is ineffective for children under the age of 18 months.
  4. 4
    Apply consequences immediately after your child has been disobedient.
  5. 5
    Move on to a new activity after your child has fulfilled her punishment. There is no need to discuss her disobedient behavior any further.


  • Do not punish your child for age-appropriate behavior. For example, swinging his legs while sitting or accidentally spilling a glass of milk is an age-appropriate behavior for a toddler.Consistency is the key to effective discipline. When you set rules, you must uphold them.A natural consequence is a form of discipline that requires no effort on your part. If your child won't eat dinner, let her go to bed hungry rather than punish her. The hunger she will feel by morning will reinforce her need to eat at each meal. This technique is appropriate for children ages 2 and older.Positive reinforcement -- the act of praising and rewarding good behavior -- is just as important as discipline.


  • Experts highly discourage spanking as a form of discipline. Spanking is painful and embarrassing to children, it teaches them that hitting is OK when they are angry and it makes them fearful of their parents. Some even believe that spanking rewards disobedient behavior by providing the child with the attention she was seeking.Verbal abuse is just as damaging to as child as physical punishment. Screaming at your child or hurting her self-esteem may result in guilt, shame or a sense of abandonment.

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