Telling-off children

Do you give your kids a good ‘telling off’ and find nothing changes?

We are so programmed to think that when kids have done something wrong, they need a good telling off to make sure they don’t do it again.

Do you frequently find that even when you tell them off they repeat the same behaviour over and over again?

It is so common to think that if we don’t scold them then we aren’t doing our jobs as parents.

‘How will they ever learn?’ I get asked all the time or

‘I can’t let them get away with bad behaviour’

‘Surely I need to clamp down on bad behaviour?’


We definitely don’t want to disregard or turn a blind eye to behaviour isn’t acceptable but there are so many great ways that you can address it so that you keep a strong relationship with your child and get the behaviour you want to see.


So lets take a look at the kinds of things kids get up to:

Children will frequently:

Throw toys,

Push or hit you or other kids

Refuse to eat food or throw it onto the floor


Splash water out of the bath

Use rude words

Refuse to: Tidy up, get into the bath, sit at the table or get down from the table, get in the buggy/stroller,/car seat/high chair, stay in bed, put their shoes or clothes on…


Are you feeling stressed just reading the above list?

It is important to know that so often children’s behaviour is impulsive and driven by their emotions. They also find transitions hard. Whilst we as parents constantly have our eye on the clock, thinking ahead to what’s next, children live in the moment and get very absorbed by what they are doing. So giving plenty of advanced warning when they have to move from one activity to another can make a big difference – ‘In ten minutes it is going to be tea time. I will need you to stop playing and come to the table’. Then ask ‘What did I say has to happen?’.

It can be useful to use some humour – ‘Oh no, if you stay in the bath for too long, you might turn into an ice block so we will have to send you to the eskimos to make an igloo’

Give them the benefit of the doubt ‘I don’t think you really meant to knock your brother’s tower down.  I know you felt cross because he wouldn’t let you join in.  You were feeling very frustrated and perhaps you didn’t realise the whole thing would collapse if you touched it?  What can you do to show him you are sorry?’

Describe their emotion before you require any kind of apology. ‘You felt so frustrated that we aren’t having your favourite pasta tonight that you pushed your bowl away and said ‘yuk!’. You would rather have pasta every night of the week wouldn’t you?’  From there you can ask the question ‘Do I really want to make pasta every night?’

Make a request instead of making a big deal about what they did wrong:

‘Your toys are precious and they can break if they get thrown.  I’d like you to go and pick them up now and put them in this box.  Which piece are you going to pick up first?’

These are just some examples of avoiding scolding and telling off. I hope you find them helpful. If you'd like some help with any issues fill out the contact form and we can set up a time to have an initial chat.