How to Help a Child Who Doesn't Respond to Discipline: 5 Steps
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With time and new techniques, your little one will be much more responsive.

So you've shouted yourself hoarse again, and it doesn't seem to have had any effect on your little one. "Does it always have to be so hard?" you think. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can implement to get your child to respond to discipline, and the sooner the better. After all, if you can't get him to listen to you when he's just a toddler, what will you do when he's a teenager?


  1. 1
    Be patient with your little one. You might have tried a lot of different strategies to no avail by now, so it's understandable if you feel that you're at the end of your rope. Remember, though, that it takes time for your child to really "get" discipline. Like the blossoming of a garden, the discipline of your little one won't happen in a flash -- and that's okay!
  2. 2
    Give clear directions to your child. Avoid stating them in the form of a question. Make your sentences as short and direct as possible. Don't give too many directions at once, or your little one will get confused. This will cut down on the number of times you have to repeat yourself, too.
  3. 3
    Make sure your child is paying complete attention to you when you're giving directions. The world's a fascinating place for your little one, so don't be surprised -- or take it personally -- if his focus shifts from you to something else sometimes. Have him repeat your instructions back to you. If he can't, prompt him until he can repeat them back to you completely.
  4. 4
    Pick your battles wisely. Some behaviors are never okay, like running into the street or hitting other people. Others are more negotiable, like whether he wears a striped shirt or a plain shirt to school. Before situations occur, think about what is really worth fighting for.
  5. 5
    Set an example of compromise for your little one. If you're stubborn yourself, he's going to reflect that bull-headed behavior right back at you, and the two of you will constantly butt heads. On the other hand, If you show your little one that you can compromise and let him have his way sometimes, he'll be more likely to listen to you in the future. Give him choices, such as which shirt to wear or which healthy snack to have.


  • Keep your voice respectful and firm when speaking to your child. Avoid shouting and sarcasm.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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