Parenting: Discipline and Limit Setting

6 to 10 Years Old: What Works

Setting limits with this age group is tricky. Here are some effective techniques to keep them safe, while offering them more opportunities to be independent:

  • Define the rules clearly. Parents and children tend to fight over the same issues repeatedly. Establish set rules. For instance, tell your child he can only watch television after he finishes his homework. This will cut down on daily battles and constant negotiations.
  • Use consequences as a form of punishment when rules are broken. For example, "You broke the window when you threw your ball against the wall. You need to pay for it with your allowance." A consequence related to misbehavior reinforces the message that this behavior is unacceptable.
  • Discuss emotions. If your child is speaking angrily, ask him what is upsetting him. Once he expresses his feelings, he will have less of a need to be aggressive.
  • At this stage children continue to benefit from rewards. If she keeps forgetting to make her bed, promise your child a trip to the mall when she accomplishes this task every day for a week.
  • Listen to your child's reasoning. You may not go along with your 8-year-old's wish to go to a rock concert, but it is important to give your child the opportunity to plead his case.
  • When your child misbehaves, help her to understand her behavior. If she can connect her emotions to her actions, she will gain greater control.
  • Grant your child new privileges when it is feasible. If your 10-year-old wants to walk to school by himself, practice the route with him until you feel comfortable letting him go alone.
  • Talk to other parents. This will give you some idea of what privileges you should grant your child and how to handle new situations.
  • Always end a discussion about a misbehavior by giving your child a positive skill to use. For example, instruct your 7-year-old, "When you want to buy new Yu-Gi-Oh cards, you need to ask me. You must never borrow money from your friend."
  • Maintain realistic expectations. Even though your 9-year-old looks like she is 12, she will still whine and cry. Be patient. She needs time to develop.
  • Teach your child to exercise independent judgment. Educate your child about smoking, drugs, AIDS, etc. Give him personal examples of how you dealt with bullies or refused to go along with the crowd. Use role-playing to help him practice self-assertion.