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The Keys to Effective Discipline
by Michele Borba, Ed.D.

Author of Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues that Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing


  • Consistency. Parents and caregivers need to sit down together and come to an agreement about their discipline. Then AGREE TO STICK WITH IT.

  • Target the behavior. Be clear of what behaviors need to be changed. I call this the 3 Bear Approach to Discipline.. here's how: first list the behaviors she does TOO MUCH (that need changing).. list the behaviors she does TOO LITTLE (those she needs to tune up .. manners, coming in on time, respecting authority).. then remember to list the behaviors she does JUST RIGHT and those are the behaviors to REINFORCE. We don't do that nearly enough. Look for what your child does right and remember to acknowledge those behaviors.

  • Determine the Rules. Once they've come to an agreement regarding the behaviors then sit down and have a family meeting and make sure the children are clear about the parents' expectations. List the rules and have everyone sign them. Don't create too many, 6-10 is about right .. and write them in positive language "we will talk calmly with one another;" "we will treat each other respectfully" - post them on the refrigerator.

  • Create Consequences. Talk together and decide if any of those rules are broken what the consequence will be? These need to also be clear and set up ahead. For 10 year olds, I think removal of a privilege usually works best. If you can't be respectful in this family, you lose the privilege of watching TV for the day. If you don't finish your homework, you don't go to your friends' home.

  • Follow Through. Whatever the consequences are .. they must be set ahead of time and agreed upon by all and then the parents MUST FOLLOW THROUGH EVERYTIME on them.

  • Reinforce Good Behavior. Remember to reinforce her a child's efforts and keep building and nurturing a positive relationship.




Dr. Michele Borba is an educational consultant and author who has conducted parent and teacher seminars to over half a million participants. Her latest book is Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues that Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing (Jossey Bass Publishers). Information on her publications and seminars can be accessed through her Web site, www.moralintelligence.com.

© 2001 by Michele Borba. Please contact for permission to reprint.

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