7 Signs your kids need more discipline

Are you having problems with an unruly child in your home? You may have missed the 7 signs your kids need discipline and if you have, here's what you can do about it.

Parents try their best to discipline their child when they misbehave, but sometimes everything can be a bit too much. So they make compromises and unnecessary rewards to make things easier. But kids need discipline. We can’t just let everything go because we’re tired, or frustrated.

As a parent, you know you can’t let kids get used to making small demands. Left unchecked, these small demands get bigger and before you know it, you’ve already lost control.

“All parents want the best for their children and are concerned with fostering their self-esteem,” said parent educator Nancy Samalin. “But when children tune us out, refuse to do what we want, defy or ignore us, it is normal to become annoyed and frustrated.”

Samalin, author of Loving Without Spoiling And 100 Other Timeless Tips for Raising Terrific Kids, drives home her point in her next remark: “Without meaning to, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of overindulging and not setting limits.”

To help parents figure out when kids need more discipline, Samalin warns parents of several signs to watch out for.

kids need discipline

7 signs kids need discipline (or more of it)

1. Your child has a sense of entitlement

Balancing between making a loving home and a disciplined home is a struggle. Sure, parents want to take care of their children to the best of their abilities. Of course, they want to provide for their needs and wants.

But do it all the time and you set up children’s expectations. The problem is when they start to expect too much while forgetting to be grateful. They become entitled, first to you, then to everyone else.

What you can do:

Show and tell your your children that it isn’t about them, or you, or anyone. Things don’t revolve around them. When kids need discipline, it should be rational and factual.

Tell them to be grateful. As an exercise, you can help them write a list of things they are thankful for. You can also help them write thank-you notes to people they’re thankful for. Helping them develop a sense of appreciation and gratitude helps them realise they aren’t the center of the universe. The world is bigger than them.

Make them do work in the house and thank them afterwards. Doesn’t it feel good to be thanked?

2. Your child can’t take “no” for an answer

This is a pretty dangerous mindset for a child to adopt very early. Left unchecked, you’re setting up your child to become an abuser who won’t take “no” for an answer later in life.

What you can do:

Your kids should realize what no mean, so don’t settle for just “no” every time. Make them understand why you’re saying no and why it’s important. You can start course-correcting them by making them understand what the “no” entails.

3. Your child lacks compassion, empathy, and kindness

One of the most important things about being human is empathy and compassion. We are social beings, and we make each other better by reaching out and helping each other. When your child doesn’t have this sense of belonging and compassion, they lose the chance to make healthy long-term relationships.

What you can do:

“Whenever a child does something helpful, caring, cooperative, or shows improvement, let them know you’ve noticed and give words of appreciation,” Samalin said.

You can say, “Thanks, Joey, I like the way you helped Amy put away her toys.” Or “Jesse, I was impressed with the way you solved your homework problem.” A little positive acknowledgement goes a long way.

There are also a couple of ways you can teach kids how to be compassionate, like in this Huffington Post’s list.

kids need discipline

Kids need discipline, but when do you know that what you’ve given is not enough?

4. Your child lacks conscience and guilt

Some children have an acute sense of guilt. Meanwhile, some others don’t. When kids don’t feel guilt, it’s an indicator of their refusal to take responsibility for their actions. They lack conscience and guilt because they think they’ve done nothing wrong. It’s a tricky problem since it’s mostly an internal problem. (And for some kids, a sign of a much more difficult problem.)

What you can do:

Teaching kids a healthy dose of guilt is important. Show them the consequences of their actions on other people. Tell them how others feel and let them see another person’s point of view. However, you shouldn’t make them feel like there’s something wrong with them.

“Talk about your feelings,” Samalin said. “But do not attack your child or tell her all the things that are wrong with him or her.”

Better yet, enforce the consequences of their actions. If they don’t feel guilty, they should experience losing something in exchange for doing something wrong. It’s not about making them miserable but teaching them the difference between right and wrong and holding them accountable for their choices.

5. Your child doesn’t care about how other people feel

Your child not caring about other people or how they feel is a sign they’re selfish. They need to learn that everyone is just as important as they are.

What you can do:

Again, your child needs to see that not everything is about them.

“When you are furious at your child, use ‘I,’ not ‘you’ phrases,” Samalin says. “It’s much better to say ‘I’m mad’ than, ‘You’re bad.’”

When your child does something that made you feel bad but he/she doesn’t care for it, you can say: “I get mad when you are late and haven’t called.” Or “I won’t be spoken to like that,”  “I am irate at the sight of this room,” or  “I’m leaving this room, so I can calm down.”

You can also teach them about charity. If you’re making a donation, take them along, so they can see what other people suffer from, and suggest ways they can help.

6. Your child blames others for their misdeeds

This is when they can’t take responsibility for their actions. This need to wash their hands of any responsibility for misdeeds can evolve into something malicious. They may start lying and manipulating people into getting out of trouble, and it may continue without you noticing it.

What you can do:

You don’t have to fight them and insist they take responsibility all the time. Actually, you can teach them about what sort of things they’re responsible or accountable for. You can accomplish this by making responsibility “tangible.”

“Write a note or make a sign for your child,” Samalin said. “Children always read your notes and may even write you back!”

Samalin gave the following example: “Dear Jo, just a reminder. Here is what has to be done before TV today. Clean clothes hung in closet. Dishes washed and dried. Dog fed and walked. [Thanks] for your help. Love, Mom.”

7. Your child is too demanding

Is your child too whiny about something they want? Are they so specific about it? And consistent? Well, your child could be demanding. And overly so.

What you can do:

“For kids who struggle with who’s in control, giving them the opportunity to make a choice helps them to feel some control — although not too much,” Samalin said.

So give them choices. Kids need discipline when it comes to their choices. Ask them if they prefer their eggs scrambled or sunny side up. Give them a choice between reading or playing during their free time. It’s important for the both of you two know who’s in control of the schedule and when things need to get down. Your child needs to know that everyone has needs, and everyone has a say about what they want or need.

Be there when your kids need discipline

It’s understandable to give your kids what they need and what they want. But what they need to have psychologically is important as well. It’s not just about what they want at the moment, or what they need physically. You have to keep in mind what they need in the future to become well-adjusted adults.

When your kids need discipline, it’s important that you show compassion as well, so you won’t go overboard. Discipline isn’t about you. It’s about teaching kids to become the best adults they can be later on in life.

YOU CAN ALSO READ: 12 Core values to teach your child