Teaching Children When You Mean Business

I am currently having some problems with my son on this area so I would like to share this email with you. It has interesting points which you might also find very useful.

When we teach parents to avoid responding to their children in anger we get a common reaction, “But my kids won’t obey unless I get angry.”

And you’re probably right, but only because you’ve taught your children to wait until you’re angry before they have to obey. You give your kids cues to know when you mean business. Those cues tell your child that it’s time to respond because your action point is coming next.

There is a definite connection between action point and anger. Many parents use the energy from anger to finally take action. When parents learn to tighten up their action point, then they don’t have to use anger as the motivator. In fact, anger can often be a flag that your action point isn’t tight enough.

If you find that you’ve relying on anger to motivate your children, then it’s time to make a change. First, though, you need to develop a new plan. What signals do you want to use to indicate that it’s time to clean up, or it’s time to go? Maybe you’ll use the child’s name and obtain eye contact and use the word “now” in the instruction.

When you’re ready to make the change, talk with your children. Explain that you have been wrong in teaching them to wait until you get angry before they start obeying. From now on you are going to tell them once, then comes the action. If your child doesn’t respond to the new cues then move right to a consequence.

You may use a warning at first as your children are learning to respond to new cues. This helps them see that you mean business, but don’t add several warnings or you defeat the purpose. Develop a routine with your kids so that they know when discussion or delays are over and obedience is required.

We don’t encourage parents to always demand obedience. Children also learn from negotiation, compromise, and cooperation, but there is a time for children to respond whether they like it or not. Your kids need to know when that is and clarifying your action point will help them learn it.


  1. This is really helpful. I am having a hard time with disciplining my 3-year-old. Thanks for sharing.

  2. this is very helpful! i hate to admit that i am one of the parents who use anger technique 🙁 i use the suggestion asap.

    thanks Christine!

    by the way, i have a new blogspot account 🙂

  3. i like this.this is very helpful.My son is already 6 years old and This is really a problem to me lalo na im just a single parent.Ginagaya niya ang ibang attitudes na di kaaya aya.Nababaguhan ako,kasi hindi naman siya ganyan dati.

    Sana you can share more. Thanks for sharing..

  4. Mom of 3rd Culture Kids says

    I'm guilty of this too and trying to change things.. we also downloaded the If and Then chart..I just printed it out and will try to make it simpler for my kids to understand and make a 'visual' for them..here's the link I found, in case you haven't heard of it yet.. I think it'll work for my kids..


    And by the way, thanks for dropping by my blog.. we're using the Usborne Book of Science Activities for our experiments and Usborne Internet Linked Science Encylopedia .

  5. This tip is very helpful, Chris, especially for moms like us who have preschoolers. They're the ones who will really try our patience!

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