Excessive time-outs can negate the effectiveness of this form of discipline.

The Effects of Over Disciplining on Children

by Melissa Willets

"Stop that. Don't do that. Sit down. Sit still. You're headed for time-out...again!" Wow, doesn't that sound exhausting, both for the parent and the kid? Over disciplining a tot can both stifle his spirit and confuse him. He may wonder, "Can I do anything right?" While discipline is a tricky part of parenting, the key is to do it selectively. Pick your battles or you may lose the war with your wee one.

1. Discipline Immunity

If you are constantly correcting your cutie's behavior, eventually he will tune you out. That is why discriminate disciplining is so important. Pick the behaviors that truly require discipline. As KidsHealth.org notes, if you overreact to a minor offense, your tot may have a tough time recognizing when he has seriously crossed the line. So if your little boundary pusher talks a little too loudly in a quiet restaurant, relax! Remember she's just a kid. If she throws a fork at her sister, react. AskDrSears.com recommends dividing your tot's behavior into small indiscretions and big ones. Then discipline your darling when necessary. Gentle reminders will suffice otherwise.

2. Low Self-Esteem

If you explode at your tyke every time he breaks one of your millions of rules, he may end up feeling badly about himself. He sits with his legs straight out in front of him and you command "cross your legs." He walks a little too quickly, too slowly. If you are impossible to please and always pick on your pumpkin, he may end up with low self-esteem. He may be thinking, "Why can't I make my mommy happy?" Instead of always focusing on the negative, AskDrSears.com urges parents to recognize the times tots do right. So if your little guy behaves while you are out running errands, commend him. "You were so good today and Mommy really appreciates that!" A great side effect of positively disciplining your dear one is that he will be more likely to listen to you if he feels good about himself overall.

3. Fear

AskDrSears.com notes that a parent should never make it her goal to control a child. You want your tot to respect you, not fear you. If you over discipline your kiddo, he may end up feeling like he has to walk on egg shells to please you. "I don't want Mommy to get mad at me," is not a good reason for your little one to want to behave. Instead, he should be inclined to be a good boy because it is the right thing to do.

4. Short Fuse

AskDrSears.com recognizes that kids learn by example. Part of disciplining is modeling good behavior. If your fuse is extremely short when it comes to your babe's behavior, imagine what he is learning from watching you. Another consequence of over disciplining your kiddo is that he may develop a very low tolerance for other people. Try to focus on remaining calm during moments when discipline is necessary and pick the times that require a reaction versus those that aren't worth your angst. If you need a breather, step away from the situation, cool off and then decide if you truly need to lay down the law or if a gentle reminder about the right course of action will do.

About the Author

Melissa Willets has been writing about parenting, pregnancy and "all things mom" since 2009. She has contributed to many websites, including Pampers.com and WhatToExpect.com.

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