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Effective Ways to Discipline a 6-year-old

Para Español


I don’t think I am effectively disciplining my 6-year-old son. He has been getting into trouble at school daily for talking too much. To reinforce that this is unacceptable behavior, I have taken away privileges such as watching TV and playing video games from a few hours to a few days. When this occurs, he just sits quietly in his room and I am concerned that this is not healthy for him. I have also tried sending him to bed early, but this too does not deter the behavior. He seems immune to punishment. What do I do?


The best way to change behavior is to use consequences in conjunction with teaching an alternative, desirable behavior. Often, we as parents focus on issuing negative consequences and forget to reinforce positive behaviors.

It is good that you are issuing consequences. Consequences are the most effective when they are issued immediately after the behavior occurs and are followed up by teaching (repeatedly) the appropriate, desired behavior. Have your son practice daily to ensure that he understands what is expected of him.

He is young. Learning will take time and practice. Schedule a meeting with his teacher during which you both can determine some immediate consequences for his disruptive behavior and some alternative behaviors his teacher can help him substitute for talking out of turn. Raising his hand is one example. Then you can practice these appropriate alternatives at home.

To “sweeten” the deal and keep him motivated, reward him for his practice with a little something such as an extra story at bedtime or a larger scoop of ice cream for dessert.

A sticker chart is a handy visual learning device. Your son earns a sticker for each day that he comes home from school without any negative reports for talking in class. After a predetermined number of stickers, he can earn an extra privilege. Select something that you know will motivate him.