My Kid Is Driving Me Crazy… and Punishment Doesn’t Work

crazy kid


Parents, do you dread having to take your toddler with you to the store because you fear them spread out on the floor throwing a temper tantrum?

Do you find yourself exasperated from deep negotiations with your preschooler over whether she can wear her princess dress to school for the fifth day in a row?

It may be helpful for you to know you’re not alone! You’re a good parent (even though it may not feel like it in these moments) but navigating the early years of parenting isn’t easy.

Toddlers and preschoolers are at an age where they’re becoming more independent and discovering themselves as individuals. They’re beginning to understand that their actions matter, yet they still have limited self-control and are not rational thinkers. It’s a challenging combination for your parenting and punishing your little guys for their behavior won’t work.

The truth is kids learn very little from any kind of punishment.

The punishment model for parenting that comes so naturally for all of us doesn’t work with your kiddo because punishment doesn’t teach new skills and so can’t improve future behavior.

Lecturing and punishment only lead to feelings of shame and insecurity. As your kids get older it results in them not trusting you and they often shut down, keep secrets and frequently lie. That’s not what any of us set out to intentionally create with our parenting.

So, it’s time for a new model of parenting that actually works to improve behavior. It’s time for parenting that involves more positive communication and interactions with your child.

When we use a respectful approach in parenting our children are better able to understand and learn from us. Positive interactions (even when disciplining your child) create a climate of love, helps build self-esteem, and promote your child’s sense of responsibility for their actions - all of which are required for changing behavior.

Positive communication that supports behavior change is:

  • Calm
  • Non-judgmental and provides objective information about behavior.
  • Tentative and flexible to allow for mistakes, differing opinions and possibilities.
  • Specific to the situation and doesn’t include words like “always” and “never.”
  • Finds the positive in a difficult trait, behavior, or situation.

Parenting toddlers and preschoolers means we should expect rough spots most days. Certain situations and times of the day tend to trigger misbehavior. When you find yourself getting pushed over the edge remember punishment is not helpful (and in some cases can be harmful and destructive). Keep your cool (a topic to be explored in another blog post) and remind yourself that calm and positive communication is a powerful tool for influencing real behavior changes in your child.

Positive communication should leave you feeling good about yourself, your children feeling good about themselves, and your relationship preserved. This is what we intentionally do want to set out to create with our parenting!

If you find yourself struggling to parent differently, or need support implementing new positive parenting strategies, you are not alone.

Changing patterns of behavior is hard and it can be confusing to try new things.

If you can relate to any of this information and want to learn more about how I can help you, or if you want to schedule a free phone conversation to see if my work is right for your family, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Heart of Connecting

My work is dedicated to supporting parents and early childhood educators in understanding and reducing challenging behavior in young children at home and in the preschool classroom.

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