Have you ever talked sweetly to your child trying to explain that what they are doing is not very nice? What about the opposite? Have you ever yelled at your child out of frustration and hoped that by seeing you so angry your child would naturally want to stop their naughty behaviour? Or, how about this scenario - you start out trying to be the patient parent who wants to calmly and sweetly explain to your child why their behaviour is unacceptable, but when they ignore you your anger swells and you begin yelling. These methods of talking and yelling, or a combination of the two, are the three most common parenting methods.

Psychologists have labeled the first type of discipline as "Permissive" and the second type as "Authoritative". The third type, which is a mixture of the previous two, is often referred to as the "Mishmash" method.

The Permissive Method does not work because it involves a lot of talking, and children, for a large part of their childhood, are egocentric - meaning they want what they want when they want it, and life is all about them; they don't care to listen to your long, drawn out explanations. They simply cannot comprehend and digest what it is the parent is trying to tell them. The only way they learn something is by direct experience of a consequence. Therefore, if a parent simply talks and explains and uses words like "You should", and "I wish you would", their child will tune out and quite possibly act out more because they are so tired of hearing their parent's voice!

The Authoritative Method appears to work at times because a child will stop the behaviour for a little while because he or she is scared, embarrassed or upset. If made to feel bad about themselves enough times, children will eventually turn resentful and revengeful against the parent. This of course will only exacerbate the bad behaviour.

The Mishmash Method does not work for very evident reasons; the child is totally confused as to what the parent wants or feels is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour. Furthermore, there is little respect for the parent who uses this method, therefore the negative behaviours continue.

So, if these three methods of discipline are the most common, but least effective, why do parents continue using them? It's what we know, it's what we've learned, and it's what we've experienced ourselves.

It is important also, to ask ourselves what our underlying desire is for using a particular method of discipline. For example, is the desire that you want your child to like you? How about wanting your child to be a little scared of you?

Taking the time to understand what method you are using and why you are using it can be an extremely beneficial exercise. With this enlightened understanding, one can decide to learn how to discipline differently and more effectively. The result? A family life that is happy and fulfilling for everyone.

Author's Bio: 

Erin Kurt, parenting & life coach to working mothers, and founder of ErinParenting, is also the author of Juggling Family Life and creator of The Life Balance Formula and the How to Get Your Child to Listen program.