5 Tips for Disciplining Your Kids on Your Own

Take the Fear Out of Disciplining Your Kids on Your Own

Being a single parent means also being the sole disciplinarian. Yet that can be downright scary at times. Are you being too hard? Too soft? And even if you share parenting time with a co-parent, you're still in charge of disciplining your kids on your own when they're at your house. So the next time your kids act out, remember these essential child discipline tips for parenting on your own.

5 Tips for Disciplining Your Kids on Your Own

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    Remember Who's in Charge

    Dad disciplining his son.
    Photo © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc./Getty Images

    Who's in charge when you're parenting on your own? You are! So make sure you're giving yourself full permission to parent. Especially if you're used to consulting your ex, a friend or a family member before you take any disciplinary action, it's important to realize that you have the right — and the responsibility — to parent your kids and apply age-appropriate consequences when needed. 

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    Set Clear Expectations With Your Kids

    Think of setting clear expectations as a form of currency. Letting your kids know up front exactly what you expect of them is not only fair — it also makes your job as a parent ten thousand times easier. Because once you've put it out there, it's fair game. So gather the kids around and hold a family meeting to let them know what the ground rules are, including what you're expecting to see in their behavior, their grades, and their interactions with you and with one another. And then...MORE be sure to follow through on those rules consistently.

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    Be Consistent

    One of the most common single parenting mistakes is to be inconsistent with your kids ... to let your mood or your circumstances dictate how you'll respond when they misbehave, press your buttons, or disappoint you. Instead, make every effort to be consistent with your kids. Of all of the single parenting tips I could share with you, this one is has the most power to impact your household. Be who you say you are, every day, and your kids will notice — and respond.

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    Pick Your Battles

    Remember that the work you're doing is a marathon. It takes time, patience, and determination. So don't make every interaction with your children into "the" defining moment. Instead, remember to pick your battles wisely when your disciplining your kids. If your kids are doing something that's truly bothersome, like being disrespectful, breaking rules you've clearly communicated, or putting themselves (or others) at risk, then deal with it — swiftly. But let the smaller...MORE battles, like style preferences and messy personal spaces (like their bedrooms) go without comment. Save your ammunition for what really matters.

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    Use Positive Reinforcement and Praise

    Finally, remember that your words have weight. When you stop and take the time to thank your kids or compliment them on something they've worked hard to achieve, you build them up in ways that no one else on this planet can do. They need that reinforcement from you, and it's one of the most powerful tools in your discipline "toolbox." Whether you're raising toddlers or teenagers, take the time to notice and comment on the good stuff — and then sit back and pay attention to...MORE what comes after. Do your kids tend to seek you out more? Share stories of their own volition (as opposed to being prompted)? Pay attention to the "rewards" you get in return and look for more opportunities to share genuine praise and reinforcement. This is one of the best ways to show your kids what you value most!