How To Punish Your Child Effectively: Tips That Work

“He’s so cute… When he’s asleep!” Without a care for your punishments, your child is disobedient and repeatedly gets into trouble! As a result, you don’t feel respected or effective and your hands hurt from all that smacking. But the good news is that there are solutions to take back the power! How can you punish a child effectively? We’ll explain all.

There’s no need to tire yourself out! Until your child is 1 and a half / 2, they won’t understand the punishment: frown, state firmly your best “no” and that’ll do the trick. After that, it’s a whole other story. Your toddler is growing and their brain is developing…

Parents, we have a wide choice of punishments! It’s up to us to be inventive and relevant. A good punishment teaches the child something and prevents them from doing it again. So, no more smacking! Turn your little monsters into real angels.

10 tips to punish your child effectively

1. “You’ll ask for forgiveness”

This is the first and most important stage! Apologizing requires a real effort for children but is a very educational punishment. The added bonus: you teach them to question and respect. Today’s children are tomorrow’s adults and nobody likes people who can’t swallow their pride.

2. “You’ll return the favor”

Vacuuming, cleaning the table, there are so many chores to show them! By paying their debt, they’ll realize that these chores take time and deserve to be respected.

3. “You’re not interesting”

If there’s nobody left to pay attention to the clown, they’ll understand they’re not funny and will stop joking. With children, it’s the same. Ignoring them is the best punishment.

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4. “You’ll think about it on your own”

This tip works in particular with younger children who may suffer from separation anxiety disorder. Not seeing their parents (not for too long though) is enough for them to realize they’ve done something wrong. Alone with their mischief, they’ll be forced to calm down.

5. “You’ll understand it’s your fault”

A good punishment comes with an explanation. For all you know, your child may not even know why they were suddenly sent to the corner as punishment (Ok, they probably have an idea…). Explaining to your little one what was wrong with their behavior will enable them to know the rules of the house and the limits of those who run it.

6. “You’ll fix your own mess”

Putting back together what has been broken, cleaning up what has been made dirty… This will make your little delinquent more responsible. If all their pocket money goes into the repair budget, we guarantee they’ll be more careful.

7. “We’ll deprive you of what you like”

If you deprive them of dessert but they don’t care about fruit pies, you’ll lose credibility. It’s about reaching something that doesn’t cause them stress but that is really important to them. You can be sure that your punishment will be meaningful.

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8. “Dad/Mom will time it right”

Effective punishment is as easy to miss as a train. By reacting in the 10 seconds before the misbehavior, at what point do you think about the most adapted punishment? You shouldn’t wait too long either because 3 hours later, your child won’t remember what they’ve done wrong (thanks to selective memory!).

9. “We’ll talk about it later”

Once everyone has calmed down, discuss it together! Why did they disobey you? Why didn’t you like it? Model parents use communication because it’s constructive! Moreover, your little terror will be made responsible without feeling guilty. Resentment often leads to conflict, so if you can avoid it…

10. “You won’t divide”

Smiles and angel faces mustn’t make you crack! Can you see yourself taking a cake out of the oven before it’s baked? No! You always finish what you’ve started. Go through with your punishment to the end. And if your partner is around, make sure they remain on your side!

The editor's opinion: 3 Golden rules for effective punishment


Every child needs boundaries, limits to grow, but beware that a badly perceived punishment or too much authority can have the opposite effect. Child and adolescent psychologist Nuria Casanovas offers us 3 simple tips for an effective punishment.

1. Talk about “consequences” rather than “punishments”, the word punishment is too negative. Explain to your child that these consequences are there to help them become aware of their actions and become a responsible person.

2. Anticipate! State the rules clearly and agree on what will happen if the child breaks them.

3. “Consequences” tailored to the “behavior”. Adjust your response to your child’s behavior. For example, if they’ve drawn on the walls, make them clean it. If they hit their brother or sister, make them aware of the pain they’ve caused and ask them to fix it, with a magic kiss for example. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with a coach if you feel overwhelmed.

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