Does anyone else feel very confused and guilty?

Naomi - posted on 08/25/2011 ( 29 moms have responded )




Is it just me or does anyone else feel very confused and guilty about discipline methods? Smacking is wrong, shouting at your children is wrong, time out may lead to psychological separation issues I feel like I get it wrong most of the time and then if I do any of the above I am racked with guilt. Don't get me wrong I am totally against abusing children in any way. It is so tough to bring the children up to be good without seemingly scaring them in some way? I find after I might have yelled I am questioning if I should have done or if I should have handled it differently? If I had the energy to go to the child every time I needed to speak or explain or instruct them in their behaviour I would probably be ok but is this possible?


Jenni - posted on 08/26/2011




I use time-ins and child-led time outs along with logical consequences. And a ton of other strategies!

Time-ins is when you remove the child from a situation that has them angry/frustrated/disappointed and has led to a negative reaction to those emotions. (ie: hitting, toy throwing, screaming, biting, snatching toys from other children etc.) and sit with them quietly (even though they might not be!) until they are calm.

Once they have calmed down you discuss with them how it's ok to feel that emotion but we don't (negative behaviour) and give them an appropriate response... instead we count to ten, or use our words and say how we're feeling, or breath, or take a break to calm down. Give them a solution to help the situation that got them upset.

(Child-led) Timeouts- Are encouraging the child to take their own timeouts when they are feeling negative emotions. By modelling giving yourself timeouts when you are angry or upset. Make it a stress releasing tool. You could provide a favourite stuffed animal for them to squeeze. Telling them, I see you're quite upset right now, do you think you should take a break and go calm down?

Followed by hugs and praise for taking their own timeout. Helping to solve the situation that made them upset.

Logical consequences- are parent-led consequences for negative behaviours. They are often referred to as "punishments that fit the crime". They are used to teach a lesson about the behaviour.

examples would be:

if the child is continually using bad language- they have to write an essay on why they shouldn't use bad language

if the child is refusing to tidy their room- they're not allowed to leave the room until it is cleaned.

They make a mess- they clean it up

They damage property- they have to do extra chores to earn the money to pay for it.

They refuse to eat dinner with the family, the family enjoys dessert after but they do not.

Natural consequences (some people refer to these as the "I told you so" method lol)- there are some cases when the best lesson learned is one they experience themselves.

Some examples would be:

They are climbing all over the dinning furniture after you've warned them they will fall down and get hurt, and they do.

They treat their friend unkindly and the friend doesn't want to play with them.

These are followed by discussions afterwards or "I told you so's!" but not in that language! lol Just talk to them about what they did and ask them what happened as a result.

Redirection- Channelling a negative behaviour into a positive one.

Some examples-

Jumping on the couch, "I love your jumping, but we don't jump on the couch. It might break, how about we jump on the floor instead and I'll jump with you!"

Running in the house, "Wow. You have lots of energy today! But we don't run in the house, we might hurt ourselves or break something. How about we go outside and run around."

"You can't touch that. But here is something you *can* touch."

"We only use *two* pieces of toilet paper. (not the whole roll!"


"We only flush the potty once! We need to save water for everyone else."

123- I count to 3 (or some parents use 5) for listening skills. It gives the child a chance to choose to listen before a logical consequence or they have to be removed from a situation. Also, it calms you down when they aren't listening to you and you're getting frustrated!

Choices- Give children choices over the little things if you don't want the big things up for debate.

ex: Your child gives you a hard time about getting dressed.

"Time to get dressed. (not up for debate) Would you like to wear the orange shirt or the green one?(choice)"

Now if you feel like yelling or smacking, if your child has driven you to frustration... if the situation allows it, take your own timeout. Announce that you need a 'timeout to calm down because you're feeling very angry or frustrated." Don't pin your emotion on the child however. It is your emotion, own it.

Also, try to seperate your own emotions from the negative behaviour your child is exhibiting. More often than not, children are not engaging in a negative behaviour to make you angry. They are experimenting and trying to learn for themselves how the world works. Or they haven't learned how to respond appropriately to negative emotions. With that in mind, use the above methods to teach them how to make positive choices over negative ones.

And remember; the relationship you have with your child (one built on trust, mutual respect, understanding, love), repeatition, consistancy, patience, logic, love and involvment are the keys to raising emotionally fit/intelligent, positve decision-making adults. You put in the work and effort now and you will reap what you sew when they grow into adults.

Dr Sears has some excellent advice on positive discipline, I recommend you read this article on changing 'No into Yes':

For more information on positive discipline and support please join our community:

Edit: I see you already have joined! And I'm not the first to recommend the community! :))

JuLeah - posted on 08/25/2011




You question, you 2nd guess youself ... yah, you are a parent. We all mess up and we all sometimes don't know what the hell we are doing ... so let the guilt go it serves no one

You can bring up healthy well mannered sound kids without yelling or hitting ... can be done, I've seen it :)

Most of the time it is about setting up the enviornment, and understanding the child's developmental level.

Yelling at a 2yr old for talking during a movie for example ... why is a two yr old at the movies??? They can't be silent for two hours unless sleeping, so don't set up that situation .... that's an example, I am not suggestion you'd do that

Time outs are a tool not a punishment and ought never be used as such, just FYI

If your kid is bouncing on the sofa and you don't want them too ... look at their age and how much bounce time they have had ... has it been raining all day and have they been cooped up inside? Give them a place to bouce, so they won't bounce on the sofa - again ... just an example

Write back with examples of your own and we can respond with more detail ...

Linda - posted on 08/26/2011




I found that the very best tool I used 35 years ago and it is still relevant today and works is Rudolph Dreikurs "Children the Challenge". Also Dr. Dobson's "Dare to Discipline". Dreikurs talks about making the punishment fit the crime and teaching children to take the responsibility for their actions. If a 2 year old throws a trantrum, 1st you redirect - get them interested in something else, if that doesn't work, walk away from them as if you are leaving. This worked on my granddaughter just yesterday in a store. Of course you need to go to a place they can't see you but you are watching them for their safety. Older children - if they break something, they fix or pay for it. If they don't do homework, they must talk to teacher or do work to make up for the poor grade. If they don't want to wear a coat, let them be cold (for a bit). It's called natural consequences. If there aren't any safe natural consequences, then you need to come up with something that fits the crime. I do use time out for hitting, fighting with siblings, disrespectful talk, etc. I set the timer for age appropriateness (1 minute for their age). I think if parents teach manners (please, thank you, sorry, excuse me) from the moment they start babbling, that solves a lot of discipline problems down the road. I am a teacher and these things work well in my classroom as well as with my children and now my grandchildren.

[deleted account]

Jennifer, i mean we need to make it a habit to correct our children, and not justify and pamper them when they misbehave, we dont correct them by yelling or hitting or scolding them, but by talking to them,a rod doesnt have to be a stick, it can be by guidance and counselling, counselling them, letting them understand that there is no room to bend the rules, guidance and counselling is the best way to discipline a child, if we teach them this wen they are young and still in our care, when they grow older and leave home to be on their own, they will live by the standards we taught them, in other words, train a child the way he should walk, and wen he is old enough, he will never depart from it.

[deleted account]

I yell a lot, which doesn't seem to help. I have timed out which again doesn't seem to help. I have played the run around the chair chasing the child because I said sit in time out for 3 minutes, and it has only been 2. I have tried smacking on the butt. I thought as a kid, I was smacked with wooden spoons & hands, and I grew up just fine, with respect for people that deserve it. With that said, I realized if I smack my 5 year old I can't expect him NOT to do it to me or other people. So I have changed my methods of discipline to counting. I have done this for about 2 years. In the beginning, I would say if I count to 3, and you are still jumping on the couch, I will take away . . ., or we will NOT go . . . Sometimes it hurts me to not go somewhere, but he remembers, and because I hold true to what I threaten, (NO EMPTY THREATS). My son knows I don't mess around. A GREAT book called 1-2-3 Magic helped me get into this routine! Anymore all I have to do is start to count and my son knows he needs to stop what he is doing. I have also held up my fingers, 1, 2 and he has stopped. No yelling numbers even. Works like a charm. Good Luck.


View replies by

Katherine - posted on 09/02/2011




Well Betty, at least you aren't going to start with the spanking rant. I actually agree with you to some extent.

Suzie - posted on 09/02/2011




i totally agree,and i feel guilty every night if i'd shout at them that day,i confuse too.....

Lesley - posted on 08/28/2011




In my experiences as a mum and I am nearly 60 years and have raised two girls. I also have my own retail business dealing directly with children all day every day. I have observed and experienced that Yelling definately Never helps just creates agravation and upset for both parties every time. Smacking on the hand at the appropriate time helps to give them a constant reminder and fear of bad things eg touching electricy etc. This is good. Threatening never helps. Ground rules set out clearly, follow up on consequences every time and never back down unless there is a discussed compromise by both parties. Hope this helps. Keep in mind your the parent and they need you to set the boundaries NOW not when they are 12. Good luck.

[deleted account]

Spare the rod and spoil the child. Spare the child and spoil the rod, it is only in love that we have to and must discipline our children, i mean discipline and not abuse, because if we dont discipline them from tender age at home, the world will discipline them harshly later in their lives.

Jennifer, i mean we need to make it a habit to correct our children, and not justify and pamper them when they misbehave, we dont correct them by yelling or hitting or scolding them, but by talking to them, counselling them, a rod doesnt have to be a stick, it can be by guidance and counselling, letting them understand that there is no room to bend the rules, if we teach them this wen they are young and still in our care, when they grow older and leave home to be on their own, they will live by the standards we taught them, in other words, train a child the way he should walk, and wen he is old enough, he will never depart from it.

Katherine - posted on 08/27/2011




I've felt the same way. Am I doing the right thing? Am I doing it RIGHT?
Redirection is a really good tool as well as positive reinforcement. Always reward the good behavior.
I came up with a chart, a rewards chart for my kids and that works really well. Everythime the do something right, they get something positive. Maybe they're favorite book or a computer game. My 5.5 year old is really into So when she behaves well she gets to get on it.
My 2 year old is a different story. She gets time outs for hitting.
Hard to keep a 2 year old in time out lol.
But I do give her lots of praise when she is doing the right thing.
Kids need A LOT of praise. And whether you think it does or doesn't it works wonders.

Good for you for checking out Positive Parenting. There is a ton of good information and support there.

Sherri - posted on 08/26/2011




Nope not confused and certainly not guilty. I discipline with what works for my family and don't give a rat's butt what anyone says, thinks or feels. My children are happy, healthy and well adjusted. I have done my job to the best of my ability and feel I have done a damn good job so far.

Keri - posted on 08/26/2011




Yes, smacking IS wrong - spanking, a quick swatt on the butt with no aim to injure, has worked for me (both when I was young and now as I use it on my own son). My boy knows when he has done wrong, and my question of "do you want a spanking" lets him know it is severely wrong. He will cover his butt and apologize sincerely. Yelling is sometimes the only way to get the attention of a child who is acting out and being louder than you are. But this time out leading to psychological separation issues is new to me? I don't see how that can be when you don't leave them alone, only send them to a specific place. In a way, your children SHOULD feel scared of punishment. If they weren't you would never be able to control them. I also don't understand your last comment. If you have time to discipline the child, how do you NOT have time to talk about the behavior - that is something that should never be left out. If a kid doesn't KNOW why they are getting a time out, or spanking or being yelled at, what is stopping them from doing the same behavoir you are punishing for? Punishing a child appropriately should never leave you guilty, even when they do their level best to achieve that.

App+7mnejhu - posted on 08/26/2011




I guess we all worry to some extent about that. I don't know if you believe in what the bible says, but if you do, you could always use that as your guide. My problem, I don't think is what I say, but how I say it. I need to work on my delivery. Don't know if that helped. :-)

Janessa - posted on 08/26/2011




1st off ask yourself why you feel guilty, if it is because you are worried about what other people will think, than don't worry about it. What you need to do is raise your kids your style what works for you and not worry about all the methods and theories out there. You can make yourself crazy with all of that. I ignore it all and go with what works for me and my kids. What seems to help us run the most smoothly, motherly instinct, promptings, inspiration. I pray when I'm really confused and don't know what to do. Each kid will be different and will need different things. Usually I go with either rewards or privileges taken away, sometimes time out, and yes I have spanked 1 of my children. I don't think yelling is ever effective though. I still have my doubts about spanking too, but speaking in a firm voice is just fine. Well hope that helps.

Debbie - posted on 08/26/2011




Of course. We are not perfect and we make mistakes. Whenever I realize that I have goofed up and disciplined in the wrong manner I tell my child that I'm sorry. Then I explain to him why I did discipline him. Finding other ways to discipline would be good. If you have to spank your child, please, don't do it with anger. Then explain to him/her why you had to do it, and always make sure you tell him/her that you love him. If you have a plan as to how you are going to discipline it helps to control how you handle the situation. And make sure the discipline fits the crime...if you know what I mean. You want them to know that you are always there for them now matter what. Enjoy your children. They grow up too fast. God be with you and your family.

Janel - posted on 08/26/2011




It is natural to feel guilty and confused at times. It is important to find what works for you and your child. I have three children and each of them are different and required different methods of discipline. Time out worked with one, but with another spanking was what worked. I would yell at one, but with another I would have to use a quiet voice to get their attention. They are all growing up to be happy, healthy, respectful youth. As they get older I have had to change how I handle situations and how I discipline them. I have over-reacted on occassion, and in those situations I return to the child (once I have had the time to cool down and work through what happened), explain my mistake and apologize. This shows them that no one is perfect, and what to do when we do something wrong. This is what works for me and my family.

Naomi - posted on 08/26/2011




Jennifer Tofflemire, thank you, that advice is exactly what I needed. What a great source of experience we have on
hand. So helpful and insightful. Thank you everyone

Carla - posted on 08/26/2011




I am having the same issue. I feel like nothing I do really works. Somehow Daddy can make it work - but not me. I hate figuring out how to handle my 3-year old both in the house and in public when he is acting bad.

Carol - posted on 08/26/2011




Like Linda said above: Children the Challenge by Rudolph Druikers is my favourite "go to" book when I'm getting frustrated. I have 2 high needs foster kids.

Another of my favourites is Barbara Colorosso although some of her methods won't work well with a child with ODD but its about picking and choosing your battles and if its not lillegal, immoral or life threatening ( and I'll add destructive) then look to natural and logical consequences.

What I thought were time outs I was giving my one son was actually a time in-- in the mornings before his meds work he is quite angry and hurtful ( physically) to his sibling. So during that time I'd have him sit in the kitchen with me while I packed lunches and made breakfast. What he, at first, saw as punishment over time became helping me with those tasks and therefore he felt he had a bit more control over what he gets for breakfast and what goes in his lunch.

I'm certainly not a perfect parent and have been known to yell on occasion and in my house we can have "do overs" myself included. When I catch myself yelling I stop, say , "give me a moment I'm really angry (or frustrated) I'll start again when I'm calmer. from my example this particular child is starting to catch himself in the middle of a blow up and he often now says " aaaggghhhhh.. can I start again!?" and he restarts in a calmer manner. It takes time and alot of practice but results will happen. Remember they are children and they aren't born with the skills to cope with anger and frustration. We as their parents need to tech that.

Oh and finally ---- humour helps!!!!!

Tricia - posted on 08/26/2011




Love and Logic Parenting by Foster Cline And Jim Fay is the best i've found. That being said I occasionally yell and have spanked a couple have times and felt very guilty. They are little people with developing brains. That's why their children. That's what i keep telling myself anyway. I reinforce behaviors like to see by saying good listening, great helper. My 2 year old wants to do everything himself but if he's getting in his car seat and gets distracted then i finish the job for him even if he gets upset. I thinnk it's normal to feel that way. Means you're a good mom and you care. I also love a book called how to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk by Faber and Maszlish. Easy read! has cartoons and scenarios and concrete strategies. Talks about the importance of listening to your children so they feel heard. Remember these are the people who will be choosing your retirement home. ;)

MaryAnn - posted on 08/26/2011




I have found guilt to be a somewhat useless emotion. Even with all the books out there, parenting does not come with a concise instruction manual.
As mothers, we get frustrated because so much is expected of us. When my children were the age of yours and older, I reserved corporal punishment for only the most dire circumstances. We live in Toronto and traffic can be crazy, especially when you mix the suburbanites who don't understand that driving in and around downtown Toronto is very different from driving in open suburbs. My younger son broke away from me one day and ran out into the street. He was almost seven and very willful. When he discovered that this action terrified me, he thought it was funny and did it again another time. He got a resounding smack on he clothed bottom right on the spot. He was so shocked that he did not repeat that very dangerous behaviour. I had never struck him before so the action was very effective. He is still a daredevil. He speeds on his bike, his skateboard and his rollerblades. He is grown now and still scares me, but I don't have to worry about him being careless in traffic. Good Luck!!

Naomi - posted on 08/26/2011




Thanks so much to you all for your advice, I've checked out the positive parenting page and it's really helped remind me to focus on the positives of behaviour. I think I've had a bad couple of days and the negatives have crept in till I felt like I was doing everything wrong. My children are prety good really. Thanks :)

Bryanna - posted on 08/26/2011




You shouldn't feel guilty about disciplining your kids. In the end, it is your job to teach them right from wrong. Kids need to know the boundaries. That's the MOST important part. They also need to learn that their actions have consequences. And, since each kid is different, you might need to use a different method with each child. For my LO we usually do time outs and set a timer. We tell him what he did before we set him down and explain why it was not okay when the time is up. The first week of it was hard.. Now if we tell him he's in a time out he stays put! Although, if he's reaching for something dangerous, a little bit of grandmas applied psychology usually gets his attention and I feel shows him that he'll get hurt if he tries to do it again. (My grandmother says "A little psychology applied low enough, hard enough, and firm enough, is good enough for anyone.") I have to agree that sometimes, a good old fashioned spanking is needed.

Karin - posted on 08/25/2011




The best discipline is to build a relationship with your kids so they don't want to disappoint you. Scaring them never really works deep down. You shouldn't ever have to resort to yelling or physical punishment.

[deleted account]

I have two words for you: Super Nanny. Discipline is just as important in teaching a child the rules of life as loving them and hugging on them. I have followed most of what she recommends (I believe she has a book or two out there) with fantastic results. My son's teachers often tell me how well-mannered he is. We've even had total strangers come up to us and comment on it when he was a toddler. Using reasonable time-outs for young ones and "reflection time" for older kids sets the boundary that you are in charge, but it helps them learn to take a breath on their own and realize their actions. Then all is better and you go on about your day. If let "guilt" get to you, the kids will see right through that and find a loophole for misbehaving. Be strong and know that staying firm and steadfast is the best love you can show your children.

Charlene - posted on 08/25/2011




You don't need to have people tell you how to discipline your child/children. You do what you feel is right in your heart! Your children will love you unconditionally and your post proves that you love them! You are doing a great job, your children will appreciate your efforts, I promise you!

Lissa - posted on 08/25/2011




Part of being a parent is feeling guilty when you think you have done the wrong thing and questioning decisions. The fact that you have yelled and then thought how should I have handled that differently is a very positive thing.
Check out this community for some ideas

[deleted account]

I don't yell at or hit J. That said, I've got a few discipline issues at hand--he does not always listen to what I say or agree with my logic.....and his logic, well--It's illogical.

If you feel guilty about what you are doing, you should explore other options.

There is a great support group on COM in the Positive Behavior Strategies group.

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