How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

Africa is a large, diverse landmass that encompasses a vast range of peoples, cultures, religions and languages. Depending on the region and even family, child disciplinary methods vary across the continent. In most areas, children are given responsibility for household chores, looking after younger children and even earning a living for the family. As such, in many cases African children are more responsible and may have more freedom than children in the West.

Household Responsibilities

Children in many African households share the responsibility of household chores such as cooking, cleaning, fetching groceries and running errands. In many cases, older children must take care of younger children while parents are busy working or caring for infants. In poorer regions and families, children may even be responsible for working and bringing home an income that helps the family to survive. Hence, if children do not fulfill their responsibilities, it can affect the whole family. Parents may discipline a child by giving him more household chores or making him responsible for overseeing the chores and activities of younger children in the family.

Scolding

Like children in any culture or area on the planet, African children will get an earful from the parents, grandparents or other guardians if they step out of line. Children might get a scolding for being rude or disrespectful to elders, hitting another child or not doing what they are supposed to. A scolding may be the first warning of disciplinary action and include threats of having to do more household chores, losing playtime, taking away a toy or pocket money or even a smack.

Classroom Discipline

A 2003 study published by the Christian publication Koers notes that classroom discipline was important in improving children’s education in South Africa 3. In some cases youth who had been involved in liberation and apartheid struggles showed arrogance toward adults when they finally enrolled in school. This included not following teacher instructions, not completing homework assignments and refusing to participate adequately at school. Disciplinary methods such as detention after school; having to repeat classes or assignments; and losing privileges, such as time for sports, helped to improve how the children behaved at school, enhancing their learning experience.

Corporal Punishment

Unlike the West, physical punishment is still an acceptable part of child discipline in much of Africa. A smack on the hand or bottom, or a ruler or stick on the hand, is commonplace and seen as necessary to teach and mold children who show misconduct. In some cases, children are severely beaten or even flogged as a disciplinary action. The BBC reports that in 2010 this prompted a legal bill in Nigeria to make corporal punishment that causes “grievous harm” against children a criminal offense. Even with such a bill, some physical disciplinary methods will still be prevalent across Africa. It will be difficult to enforce this law, except in severe cases.

Are you preparing your child to be independent? Teaching your child life skills is not only important for self-care and sufficiency— it also allows him to feel empowered, works on socialization and reasoning, and helps develop healthy self-esteem. This list of age-appropriate skills will help prepare your child for each stage of his life from preschool until the day he flies the coop.

Ages 2 and 3: Small Chores and Basic Grooming

This is the age when your child will start to learn basic life skills. By the age of three, your child should be able to

  • Help put his toys away.
  • Dress himself (with some help from you)
  • Put his clothes in the hamper when he undresses
  • Clear his plate after meals
  • Assist in setting the table
  • Brush his teeth and wash his face with assistance

Ages 4 and 5: Important Names and Numbers

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

Safety skills are high on the list, now. She should know

  • Her full name, address and a phone number to reach you
  • How to make an emergency call

Your child should also learn how to

  • Perform simple cleaning chores like dusting in easy-to-reach places and clearing the table after meals
  • Feed pets
  • Identify money denominations and understand the very basic concept of how money is used
  • Brush her teeth, comb her hair and wash her face without help
  • Help with basic laundry chores, such as putting her clothes away and bringing her dirty clothes to the laundry
  • Choose her own clothes to wear

Ages 6 and 7: Basic Cooking Techniques

Kids at this age can start to help with cooking meals, and can learn to

  • Mix, stir and cut with a dull knife
  • Make a basic meal, like a sandwich
  • Help put the groceries away
  • Wash the dishes

Your child should also learn how to

  • Use basic household cleaners safely
  • Straighten up the bathroom after using it
  • Make her bed without assistance.
  • Bathe unsupervised.

Ages 8 and 9: Pride in Personal Belongings

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

By this time, your child should take pride in her personal belongings and take care of them properly. That includes being able to

  • Fold her clothes
  • Learn simple sewing
  • Care for outdoor toys such as her bike

Your child should also learn how to

  • Take care of personal hygiene without being told to do so
  • Use a broom and dustpan properly
  • Read a recipe and prepare a simple meal
  • Help create a grocery list
  • Count and make change
  • Take out the trash

Ages 10 to 13: Gaining Independence

Ten is about the age when your child can begin to perform many skills independently. She should know how to

  • Stay home alone
  • Go to the store and make purchases by herself
  • Change her own bed sheets
  • Use the washing machine and dryer
  • Plan and prepare a meal with several ingredients
  • Use the oven to broil or bake foods

Your child should also learn how to

  • Read labels
  • Iron clothes
  • Use basic hand tools
  • Look after younger siblings or neighbors

Ages 14 to 18: More Advanced Skills

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

By 14, your child should have mastered of all of the previous skills. On top of that, she should be able to

  • Perform more sophisticated cleaning and maintenance chores, such as plunging a toilet, cleaning the stove and unclogging drains
  • Fill a car with gas, add air to and change a tire
  • Read and understand medicine labels and dosages
  • Interview for and get a job.
  • Create and maintain a calendar

Young Adults: Preparing to Live on His Own

Your child will need to know how to support herself when he goes away to college or moves out. There are still a few skills she should know before venturing out on his own, including

  • Make regular doctor and dentist appointments and other important health-related appointments.
  • Have a basic understanding of finances, and be able to manage his bank account, pay a bill and use a credit card.
  • Understand basic contracts, like an apartment or car lease.
  • Schedule oil changes and basic car maintenance.

Before heading to college, make sure your teen can master these six life skills.

We’ve broken down what your children should be able to do. Now, how do you get them there? Check out our five tips to make your child self-sufficient.

Andrea Rice is an award-winning journalist and a freelance writer, editor, and fact checker specializing in health and wellness.

As any parent with more than one child or child care provider can attest, what works in terms of a disciplinary approach for one child may not work as well with another. With differences in how kids react to discipline also comes an increased likelihood for parents to be less-than-consistent in their approach.

As a result, it’s really no surprise that more than one-third of parents don’t think their methods of discipline work well, according to a 2007 study of 2,134 parents with kids ages 2-11. Fortunately, child experts have indicated that there are some common basics to positive and effective discipline strategies for parents. Here are a few techniques to try:

Consistency Is Key

Since everyone has a different parenting/caregiver style, it’s not practical to say that all discipline should be consistent all the time. Do try, however, to instill consistent rules, approaches, and even goals and rewards each day. Kids can find change or inconsistencies confusing, and may test limits or boundaries to see how far they can go with different adults.

Consistency is crucial to predictability when it comes to parenting. When parents are consistent in their reactions and consequences, they become predictable to their children. Their child becomes able to predict how they will react in specific situations.

Seek Out the ‘Why’ of Misbehavior

When your child throws a cup and its contents spill on the carpet, a disciplinary consequence should be rendered, right? However, if you take the time to seek out the “why” to the behavior rather than just the action itself, you might be closer to figuring out your child’s problem (at least in this instance).

If you determine that they threw their cup because the straw was clogged, for example, you might assess a different outcome or have a different conversation than if they threw it because they didn’t want milk for a drink. Or, maybe they were mad at something else entirely, and this was how they handled it. By knowing the underlying cause, parents can then guide their child toward more appropriate behavior.

Avoid Power Struggles

Choose your battles very carefully—but once you’ve picked a battle then a parent/adult, in most cases, should win. Only address those issues that are truly important (safety is always a key battle) and let some of the other things go. If possible, offer choices while still setting reasonable limits.

But if an issue is important, parents should try to refrain from giving in to their child, even if it’s “just this once.” If you do this, then every time this particular issue comes up, your child will remember that you might just change your mind again and cave.

Emphasize and Praise Good Behavior

If your child’s bad behavior won’t cause any harm, such as a tantrum, whining, or another misbehavior, you can choose to ignore it. In these instances, an effective positive disciplinary approach can involve praising good behavior and rewarding it with hugs, high-fives, or special activities like a trip to the park.

While ignoring a screaming child is much easier said than done, they will eventually learn to associate good behavior with positive attention and praise, while learning that their bad behavior gains them nothing.

Keep Your Cool

Some children become intrigued seeing a rise out of an adult; blowing your top can be interesting to watch. But losing your temper can also be confusing to your child. Do your best to keep calm and in control, and if necessary, tell your child you’re taking a brief “time out” to assess the situation and decide the appropriate consequence before taking action.

Don’t give your child the opportunity to take advantage of your frazzled, mad, or emotional state. If you’ve made a mistake, learn from the experience by taking measures to stay calm, cool and collected the next time you feel anger starting to arise.

When you keep your cool and take a voluntary time out, you are modeling this positive behavior for your child. Knowing how to calm yourself down is an important skill to keep practicing and be able to teach your children.

Seek Out Discipline Supporters

Whenever someone else is watching your child, be sure to communicate your discipline style and request that the caregiver adopt a similar fashion. Likewise, if you do not believe in a certain approach (like spanking or a time-out chair), be sure to indicate this to a babysitter or early education teacher as well.

If you’re checking out a new day care or preschool, take the time to ask about their disciplinary approaches. Parents may find that if they match their approach to the methods used at a child care setting, the results become more effective. The reason may be that kids respond to discipline tactics that are used with their peers. Consistency in discipline is important!

Learn Parenting and Discipline Styles

There are different types of parenting styles and approaches to discipline. Educating yourself on the various theories will help you feel informed and more in control when choosing how to react to a situation with your child.

Whether you choose positive discipline, boundary-based discipline, gentle discipline or another type, it is important to learn what each style is and choose the one that best fits your family and your parenting style.

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

All kids fib from time to time. But when your child tells a whopper, should you punish him, making sure he knows — in no uncertain terms — that lying isn’t ever acceptable?

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

No, says psychologist Kristen Eastman, PsyD. As a parent, you’re playing the long game. You want to keep the lines of communication open.

View lies as skill-building moments

Parents should expect kids to lie at some point and try to resist the urge to simply get upset (and punish).

“It’s an opportunity to figure out why they felt lying was their only option,” Dr. Eastman explains. “At different times, you can identify what underlying skill they are lacking — whether that’s problem-solving or social skills to connect with peers.”

If you freak out, it can make your child less likely to trust you and open up about sticky situations in the future. This holds true no matter your child’s age.

Here, Dr. Eastman breaks down why kids lie and how to handle it, from toddlers to teenagers.

How to handle lying in toddlers (ages 2-3)

Lying is common in young children, who are just beginning to understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

Take a common scenario: Your daughter sneaks a chocolate chip cookie. The telltale chocolate smear is on her face. When you question her, she denies it. Why?

Children this age are too young to understand lying as a moral choice. They don’t always think before acting, so they don’t anticipate consequences. So, the lie is how they’re responding to the fact that you look mad or sound upset. They want to make everything OK again. They’re not trying to deceive.

With toddlers, respond to lies with facts. Don’t punish. In this instance, point out her dirty face and the open package on the table. When you lay out the evidence in simple but concrete terms, you can start to help your child understand right from wrong.

How to handle lying during the preschool years (ages 4-5)

Talk with a slightly older child about the importance of telling the truth.

For extra reinforcement, read an age-appropriate book about lying to your child. And make sure to set a good example by telling the truth yourself.

If you catch your preschooler in a lie, don’t make a big deal out of it — they are still exploring and testing at that age. Make use of their increased language skills to teach them about choices.

“Say that lying’s not an OK choice, but here’s how you could have handled that instead,” Dr. Eastman advises. “You still need to be very concrete at this age.”

How to handle lying during the elementary school years

By the time your child enters kindergarten, she’s a bit more savvy. She understands that lying is wrong, but she also knows that lying can help her avoid consequences and chores. She’d rather have fun than do her science project or clean her room. She’ll lie to mislead or manipulate and to avoid an uncomfortable situation. At this age, skill building — not punishment — should be the goal.

“Kids usually want to do the right thing,” Dr. Eastman says. “But when they lack skills to handle a situation, they just choose the path of least resistance.

“If your child lies about not having homework, find out why. Maybe they don’t understand or can’t keep track of their assignments.”

Pinpoint what’s behind the lie, whether it’s a lack of problem-solving skills or a feeling of not fitting in. Focus on teaching your child how to solve problems, get through uncomfortable situations and think ahead to consequences for their behavior.

“Look at the gaps in your child’s skills as an opportunity to reduce the need to lie,” Dr. Eastman says. Share experiences from your past instead of punishing and shaming.

But don’t let them get away with it, she notes. Tell them it’s not OK, or they’ll see lying as an easier way to avoid consequences or hurt feelings.

Modeling is even more important at this age. “If you lie in everyday situations — “I wish I could talk, but I have to get going. I have somewhere to be” — older school kids will start to notice that and think it’s OK.”

How to handle lying during the middle school years and beyond

During the middle school years, your child is even more likely to lie to fit in with peers, to get out of trouble or to regain control after you’ve told them no. Help him understand the impact of his choices.

“Explain to older kids and teens why lying can lead to dangerous consequences. Often, they’re not thinking ahead,” says Dr. Eastman. For instance, if your son lies about where he is, help him understand that you couldn’t get in touch with him if something went wrong. Helping him see why limits are put in place will eventually help him make better choices.

“Parents need to talk with their child, explaining their concerns (whether moral or safety issues) and perhaps finding a compromise,” Dr. Eastman says. “This isn’t giving in. This is helping ensure you’re not seen as overly strict, which could just result in more lying.”

Older kids start to understand when it’s OK to tell a ‘white lie’ to spare someone’s feelings. Dr. Eastman says it’s best to reinforce the importance of telling the truth, though there are some times when it’s better to keep your thoughts to yourself.

You can also help them understand that lying can affect their reputation. “Discuss questions like ‘How do you want others to view you? How do you want to view yourself? Do you feel proud of yourself when you lie, or rather when you’re honest and kind?’” she suggests.

Bonus tips: Share your own experiences and reward honesty

Everyone makes mistakes or mishandles a situation once or twice.

But talk to your child about how if this becomes a repeated thing, there will be consequences. And lay those out up front, so there’s no debate about it later.

Share some of your own experiences and talk about the mistakes that you have made, she adds.

And don’t forget to offer positive rewards when your child tells the truth, especially in a tough situation.

If you follow Dr. Eastman’s advice but worry that your child’s lying is becoming too automatic, ask your child’s pediatrician for help.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Are you preparing your child to be independent? Teaching your child life skills is not only important for self-care and sufficiency— it also allows him to feel empowered, works on socialization and reasoning, and helps develop healthy self-esteem. This list of age-appropriate skills will help prepare your child for each stage of his life from preschool until the day he flies the coop.

Ages 2 and 3: Small Chores and Basic Grooming

This is the age when your child will start to learn basic life skills. By the age of three, your child should be able to

  • Help put his toys away.
  • Dress himself (with some help from you)
  • Put his clothes in the hamper when he undresses
  • Clear his plate after meals
  • Assist in setting the table
  • Brush his teeth and wash his face with assistance

Ages 4 and 5: Important Names and Numbers

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

Safety skills are high on the list, now. She should know

  • Her full name, address and a phone number to reach you
  • How to make an emergency call

Your child should also learn how to

  • Perform simple cleaning chores like dusting in easy-to-reach places and clearing the table after meals
  • Feed pets
  • Identify money denominations and understand the very basic concept of how money is used
  • Brush her teeth, comb her hair and wash her face without help
  • Help with basic laundry chores, such as putting her clothes away and bringing her dirty clothes to the laundry
  • Choose her own clothes to wear

Ages 6 and 7: Basic Cooking Techniques

Kids at this age can start to help with cooking meals, and can learn to

  • Mix, stir and cut with a dull knife
  • Make a basic meal, like a sandwich
  • Help put the groceries away
  • Wash the dishes

Your child should also learn how to

  • Use basic household cleaners safely
  • Straighten up the bathroom after using it
  • Make her bed without assistance.
  • Bathe unsupervised.

Ages 8 and 9: Pride in Personal Belongings

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

By this time, your child should take pride in her personal belongings and take care of them properly. That includes being able to

  • Fold her clothes
  • Learn simple sewing
  • Care for outdoor toys such as her bike

Your child should also learn how to

  • Take care of personal hygiene without being told to do so
  • Use a broom and dustpan properly
  • Read a recipe and prepare a simple meal
  • Help create a grocery list
  • Count and make change
  • Take out the trash

Ages 10 to 13: Gaining Independence

Ten is about the age when your child can begin to perform many skills independently. She should know how to

  • Stay home alone
  • Go to the store and make purchases by herself
  • Change her own bed sheets
  • Use the washing machine and dryer
  • Plan and prepare a meal with several ingredients
  • Use the oven to broil or bake foods

Your child should also learn how to

  • Read labels
  • Iron clothes
  • Use basic hand tools
  • Look after younger siblings or neighbors

Ages 14 to 18: More Advanced Skills

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

By 14, your child should have mastered of all of the previous skills. On top of that, she should be able to

  • Perform more sophisticated cleaning and maintenance chores, such as plunging a toilet, cleaning the stove and unclogging drains
  • Fill a car with gas, add air to and change a tire
  • Read and understand medicine labels and dosages
  • Interview for and get a job.
  • Create and maintain a calendar

Young Adults: Preparing to Live on His Own

Your child will need to know how to support herself when he goes away to college or moves out. There are still a few skills she should know before venturing out on his own, including

  • Make regular doctor and dentist appointments and other important health-related appointments.
  • Have a basic understanding of finances, and be able to manage his bank account, pay a bill and use a credit card.
  • Understand basic contracts, like an apartment or car lease.
  • Schedule oil changes and basic car maintenance.

Before heading to college, make sure your teen can master these six life skills.

We’ve broken down what your children should be able to do. Now, how do you get them there? Check out our five tips to make your child self-sufficient.

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

All kids fib from time to time. But when your child tells a whopper, should you punish him, making sure he knows — in no uncertain terms — that lying isn’t ever acceptable?

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

No, says psychologist Kristen Eastman, PsyD. As a parent, you’re playing the long game. You want to keep the lines of communication open.

View lies as skill-building moments

Parents should expect kids to lie at some point and try to resist the urge to simply get upset (and punish).

“It’s an opportunity to figure out why they felt lying was their only option,” Dr. Eastman explains. “At different times, you can identify what underlying skill they are lacking — whether that’s problem-solving or social skills to connect with peers.”

If you freak out, it can make your child less likely to trust you and open up about sticky situations in the future. This holds true no matter your child’s age.

Here, Dr. Eastman breaks down why kids lie and how to handle it, from toddlers to teenagers.

How to handle lying in toddlers (ages 2-3)

Lying is common in young children, who are just beginning to understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

Take a common scenario: Your daughter sneaks a chocolate chip cookie. The telltale chocolate smear is on her face. When you question her, she denies it. Why?

Children this age are too young to understand lying as a moral choice. They don’t always think before acting, so they don’t anticipate consequences. So, the lie is how they’re responding to the fact that you look mad or sound upset. They want to make everything OK again. They’re not trying to deceive.

With toddlers, respond to lies with facts. Don’t punish. In this instance, point out her dirty face and the open package on the table. When you lay out the evidence in simple but concrete terms, you can start to help your child understand right from wrong.

How to handle lying during the preschool years (ages 4-5)

Talk with a slightly older child about the importance of telling the truth.

For extra reinforcement, read an age-appropriate book about lying to your child. And make sure to set a good example by telling the truth yourself.

If you catch your preschooler in a lie, don’t make a big deal out of it — they are still exploring and testing at that age. Make use of their increased language skills to teach them about choices.

“Say that lying’s not an OK choice, but here’s how you could have handled that instead,” Dr. Eastman advises. “You still need to be very concrete at this age.”

How to handle lying during the elementary school years

By the time your child enters kindergarten, she’s a bit more savvy. She understands that lying is wrong, but she also knows that lying can help her avoid consequences and chores. She’d rather have fun than do her science project or clean her room. She’ll lie to mislead or manipulate and to avoid an uncomfortable situation. At this age, skill building — not punishment — should be the goal.

“Kids usually want to do the right thing,” Dr. Eastman says. “But when they lack skills to handle a situation, they just choose the path of least resistance.

“If your child lies about not having homework, find out why. Maybe they don’t understand or can’t keep track of their assignments.”

Pinpoint what’s behind the lie, whether it’s a lack of problem-solving skills or a feeling of not fitting in. Focus on teaching your child how to solve problems, get through uncomfortable situations and think ahead to consequences for their behavior.

“Look at the gaps in your child’s skills as an opportunity to reduce the need to lie,” Dr. Eastman says. Share experiences from your past instead of punishing and shaming.

But don’t let them get away with it, she notes. Tell them it’s not OK, or they’ll see lying as an easier way to avoid consequences or hurt feelings.

Modeling is even more important at this age. “If you lie in everyday situations — “I wish I could talk, but I have to get going. I have somewhere to be” — older school kids will start to notice that and think it’s OK.”

How to handle lying during the middle school years and beyond

During the middle school years, your child is even more likely to lie to fit in with peers, to get out of trouble or to regain control after you’ve told them no. Help him understand the impact of his choices.

“Explain to older kids and teens why lying can lead to dangerous consequences. Often, they’re not thinking ahead,” says Dr. Eastman. For instance, if your son lies about where he is, help him understand that you couldn’t get in touch with him if something went wrong. Helping him see why limits are put in place will eventually help him make better choices.

“Parents need to talk with their child, explaining their concerns (whether moral or safety issues) and perhaps finding a compromise,” Dr. Eastman says. “This isn’t giving in. This is helping ensure you’re not seen as overly strict, which could just result in more lying.”

Older kids start to understand when it’s OK to tell a ‘white lie’ to spare someone’s feelings. Dr. Eastman says it’s best to reinforce the importance of telling the truth, though there are some times when it’s better to keep your thoughts to yourself.

You can also help them understand that lying can affect their reputation. “Discuss questions like ‘How do you want others to view you? How do you want to view yourself? Do you feel proud of yourself when you lie, or rather when you’re honest and kind?’” she suggests.

Bonus tips: Share your own experiences and reward honesty

Everyone makes mistakes or mishandles a situation once or twice.

But talk to your child about how if this becomes a repeated thing, there will be consequences. And lay those out up front, so there’s no debate about it later.

Share some of your own experiences and talk about the mistakes that you have made, she adds.

And don’t forget to offer positive rewards when your child tells the truth, especially in a tough situation.

If you follow Dr. Eastman’s advice but worry that your child’s lying is becoming too automatic, ask your child’s pediatrician for help.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Is It Time to Make a Referral?

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How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

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  • M.Ed., Educational Administration, Northeastern State University
  • B.Ed., Elementary Education, Oklahoma State University

Classroom management and student discipline make up a significant portion of an educator’s daily duties in terms of time and importance. Just as doing these effectively can boost your all-around success, doing them ineffectively can derail your whole day. Teachers who have a good handle on management and discipline find themselves spending more time teaching and less time managing than those that do not.

When improperly handled, discipline infractions distract the class, throw lessons off schedule, and negatively impact teacher-student relationships. Don’t let your classroom feel these effects. Instead, aim to be a strong teacher that resolves issues quickly and appropriately with minimal disruption. Learn how to be a strong teacher that uses discipline referrals properly below.

Managing Discipline Referrals in the Classroom

Teachers must be careful that they do not make mountains out of molehills when students are out of line. Be sure that you are managing and evaluating a situation appropriately. If a situation warrants a discipline referral, send the student to the office. Never send a student to the office simply because you “need a break” or “don’t want to deal with it”.

When to Make Referrals

As a general rule of thumb, use discipline referrals as a last resort. Students must be held accountable for their actions and there is absolutely nothing wrong with making use of a system that’s there to help you, but complete reliance on the principal for handling disciplinary issues is indicative of ineffective classroom management on your part.

Of course, this works both ways. Teachers that never send students to the office aren’t taking full advantage of resources available to them and might be spreading themselves too thin. You should never refrain from making necessary discipline referrals because you’re afraid of what your principal will think, as long as you’ve evaluated the situation and determined that a referral is the right call. Most administrators understand what teachers deal with and are happy to help with reasonable discipline referrals.

Referral Guides

Many school administrators alleviate the stress on teachers to make the right decision by creating black and white guides to referrals; this makes everyone’s lives easier by eliminating time-consuming guesswork. A guide like this should indicate what offenses should be dealt with in the classroom and what offenses warrant discipline referrals. If you are a teacher that feels like your school could benefit from this type of structured guide, mention it to your principal.

Handling Minor Disciplinary Offenses

The following offenses should generally be handled by teachers within the classroom. In most cases, retraining offending students in rules and procedures, then following through with established consequences, is sufficient to minimize reoccurrences. Because these offenses are fairly minor, a student should not be sent to the office for violating a single one.

However, recurring and/or unaddressed minor issues can become major quickly, so it’s important that you do all you can to restore order as soon as possible. As a teacher, your role is to exhaust an array of classroom management and discipline techniques—including contacting families, enforcing logical consequences, etc.—before referring a student to the office. In most cases, these management and discipline techniques are enough to get a student back on track.

Common minor offenses include:

  • Possession of gum, candy, toys, and other prohibited items
  • Passing notes
  • Failure to follow procedures
  • Cheating on non-graded assignments (once)
  • Failure to bring appropriate materials to class
  • Petty conflict between students
  • Minimally disruptive behavior
  • Insubordination
  • Tardiness to class (first two occurrences)
  • Use of electronic devices for non-educational purposes (i.e. texting, social media, etc.)

Handling Major Disciplinary Offenses

The following offenses should result in an automatic referral to the office for discipline no matter what. These are dangerous, illegal, and highly disruptive behaviors that not only prevent others from learning and feeling safe in school but can lead to the expulsion of offending students.

Common major offenses include:

  • Blatant disrespect towards the teacher
  • Bullying another student
  • Cheating on a quiz, test, or exam
  • Missing detention twice after parent contact
  • Theft
  • Leaving class without permission
  • Obscene language or gesture
  • Fighting
  • Obscene pictures or literature
  • Vandalism
  • Smoking and/or possession of smoking materials or tobacco
  • Possession, consumption, sale, or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Possession of fireworks, matches, lighter, or another caustic device
  • Verbal abuse of adults or students
  • Repeated defiance/insubordination
  • Threats by word or deed

Many students never have serious discipline problems. These lists should serve as guidelines for what to do when a policy has been violated. As always, use fair and appropriate judgment in the exercise of any discipline. The goal of your disciplinary actions should be to prevent inappropriate behavior from occurring again.

Administrators will have the flexibility to respond differently to various situations. The frequency, intensity, and duration of misconduct influence possible consequences.

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

How did this happen? Your preschooler has somehow become a full-fledged elementary school student. It’s easier in some ways — they have so much more self control. They’re more cooperative and affectionate.

But this is where things get complicated. You’re just living your life, trying to hold a busy household together and get dinner on the table, while your child is shaping into the person he or she will become.

It may seem like you just finished toilet-training, but the tween years are right around the corner. Take advantage of these sweet, reasonable, elementary years while you still have so much influence on your child to build a close relationship, and help your child develop emotional intelligence and terrific self-management habits.

Positive Parenting Gameplan: Age 5 to 9

How did your baby become a real kid, with her own life? These are the years when your child lays the foundation for school success, peer friendships, and her own character. Here’s your gameplan for staying connected and helping her blossom.

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

Peaceful Parenting Examples Age 7 – 11

There’s no such thing as parenting perfectly. We’re all doing the best we can with the resources we have in that moment. True, if we use a positive parenting approach when our children are toddlers, they’re easier when they’re older. But you can start peaceful parenting any time, and you’ll see a difference in your child’s behavior very quickly.

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

Ten Tips for Helping Your Child Adjust to School

So she’s off to school every morning now, like a big kid. But instead of the exuberance you expected, you find many days – especially Monday — starting with tears, or maybe a tummy-ache. Don’t worry, it’s not unusual for kids to need a little extra help adjusting to the start of school. What can you do?

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

Preparing Your Child for the New School Year

The last weeks of summer are already upon us, and the new school year is right around the corner. Whether you can’t wait till your kids are back in school or dread the more regimented days ahead, there’s one thing you can count on: Back to School is always a big transition for the whole family.

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten

It seems crazy that parents should even have to think about getting kids ready for kindergarten, academically speaking. Of course you’ll want to prepare your child emotionally.

Keeping Your Child Safe

It’s a big world out there. When your child was a baby or toddler, you were always there, or you left your child in the care of a trusted, nurturing adult. But as your child gets older, you’ll be holding his hand less and less. You’re bound to worry a bit about his or her safety. And when kids begin to navigate the sidewalks or even public transit themselves, it can be positively nerve-wracking. That’s the bad news. The good news is, most of the tragedies we read about are rare. The even better news for parents is, most of them can be prevented.

Bully-Proof Your Child

Bullying begins in preschool and gains momentum as kids grow. Depending on which survey you read, between 40 and 80 percent of middle schoolers admit to bullying behavior. Not only is bullying pervasive, it has become increasingly dangerous, so that children are committing suicide or being beaten to death by their bulliers. That’s the bad news. The good news is that bullying is preventable, and you can bully-proof your child — and keep him from becoming a bully.

How To Keep Your Child from Developing an Eating Disorder

What can you do to prevent your child from developing an eating disorder? Help your child develop a healthy body AND a healthy body image.

It’s Not Too Early To Talk To Your Child About Alcohol

Parents are the most important influence on whether kids drink alcohol, and the earlier you start these conversations, the better. Kids whose parents teach them the risks of using drugs and alcohol are half as likely to use them. Don’t wait until your kids are teens before you have these conversations. This is a topic you’ll want to revisit over the years as your child reaches new levels of understanding — and temptation.

Building a Great Relationship with Your Child

The only leverage we ever really have with our children is their love for us. It’s never too late to build a great relationship with your child. Want some secrets for staying close?

Staying Connected with Your Child

Much of the same advice applies that was true when she was a toddler: Reconnect every day, and don’t wait when you see there’s repair work to be done.

Positive Discipline with your 5 to 9 Year Old

Because I say so!” won’t work much longer. Are you unwittingly making your child more contrary by using power-based discipline methods? Your best strategy is a strong relationship, clear expectations, and lots of empathy.

Helping Your 5 to 9 Year Old Develop Good Judgment

Even if you could hover over your child and help her navigate every obstacle, it wouldn’t be good for her. Here’s how to help your child develop her own judgment and learn to draw on her own internal resources.

Dinner: Nurture Body & Spirit

The more frequently kids eat dinner with their families the better they do in school, the happier they say they are, and the less likely they are to get involved with drugs, alcohol, sex, or vandalism as tweens and teens. Get in the habit now and you’ll find it’s the best part of everyone’s day! Dinner is one strong glue for holding families together.

Help Your Child Develop Emotional Intelligence

Good grades are important, but emotional and social intelligence contribute more to your child’s success and happiness in life than intellectual smarts. Every day you have hundreds of chances to help your child develop emotional intelligence — in fact, every time your child expresses an emotion.

Help Your Child Develop Social Skills

Your child lives in a complicated social world, and now is when the groundwork is laid for peer relationships that support (rather than undermine) your child. Six strategies every parent can use to help your child learn to make friends and get along with peers.

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

How did this happen? Your preschooler has somehow become a full-fledged elementary school student. It’s easier in some ways — they have so much more self control. They’re more cooperative and affectionate.

But this is where things get complicated. You’re just living your life, trying to hold a busy household together and get dinner on the table, while your child is shaping into the person he or she will become.

It may seem like you just finished toilet-training, but the tween years are right around the corner. Take advantage of these sweet, reasonable, elementary years while you still have so much influence on your child to build a close relationship, and help your child develop emotional intelligence and terrific self-management habits.

Positive Parenting Gameplan: Age 5 to 9

How did your baby become a real kid, with her own life? These are the years when your child lays the foundation for school success, peer friendships, and her own character. Here’s your gameplan for staying connected and helping her blossom.

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

Peaceful Parenting Examples Age 7 – 11

There’s no such thing as parenting perfectly. We’re all doing the best we can with the resources we have in that moment. True, if we use a positive parenting approach when our children are toddlers, they’re easier when they’re older. But you can start peaceful parenting any time, and you’ll see a difference in your child’s behavior very quickly.

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

Ten Tips for Helping Your Child Adjust to School

So she’s off to school every morning now, like a big kid. But instead of the exuberance you expected, you find many days – especially Monday — starting with tears, or maybe a tummy-ache. Don’t worry, it’s not unusual for kids to need a little extra help adjusting to the start of school. What can you do?

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

Preparing Your Child for the New School Year

The last weeks of summer are already upon us, and the new school year is right around the corner. Whether you can’t wait till your kids are back in school or dread the more regimented days ahead, there’s one thing you can count on: Back to School is always a big transition for the whole family.

How to discipline a child (the complete guide for different ages)

Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten

It seems crazy that parents should even have to think about getting kids ready for kindergarten, academically speaking. Of course you’ll want to prepare your child emotionally.

Keeping Your Child Safe

It’s a big world out there. When your child was a baby or toddler, you were always there, or you left your child in the care of a trusted, nurturing adult. But as your child gets older, you’ll be holding his hand less and less. You’re bound to worry a bit about his or her safety. And when kids begin to navigate the sidewalks or even public transit themselves, it can be positively nerve-wracking. That’s the bad news. The good news is, most of the tragedies we read about are rare. The even better news for parents is, most of them can be prevented.

Bully-Proof Your Child

Bullying begins in preschool and gains momentum as kids grow. Depending on which survey you read, between 40 and 80 percent of middle schoolers admit to bullying behavior. Not only is bullying pervasive, it has become increasingly dangerous, so that children are committing suicide or being beaten to death by their bulliers. That’s the bad news. The good news is that bullying is preventable, and you can bully-proof your child — and keep him from becoming a bully.

How To Keep Your Child from Developing an Eating Disorder

What can you do to prevent your child from developing an eating disorder? Help your child develop a healthy body AND a healthy body image.

It’s Not Too Early To Talk To Your Child About Alcohol

Parents are the most important influence on whether kids drink alcohol, and the earlier you start these conversations, the better. Kids whose parents teach them the risks of using drugs and alcohol are half as likely to use them. Don’t wait until your kids are teens before you have these conversations. This is a topic you’ll want to revisit over the years as your child reaches new levels of understanding — and temptation.

Building a Great Relationship with Your Child

The only leverage we ever really have with our children is their love for us. It’s never too late to build a great relationship with your child. Want some secrets for staying close?

Staying Connected with Your Child

Much of the same advice applies that was true when she was a toddler: Reconnect every day, and don’t wait when you see there’s repair work to be done.

Positive Discipline with your 5 to 9 Year Old

Because I say so!” won’t work much longer. Are you unwittingly making your child more contrary by using power-based discipline methods? Your best strategy is a strong relationship, clear expectations, and lots of empathy.

Helping Your 5 to 9 Year Old Develop Good Judgment

Even if you could hover over your child and help her navigate every obstacle, it wouldn’t be good for her. Here’s how to help your child develop her own judgment and learn to draw on her own internal resources.

Dinner: Nurture Body & Spirit

The more frequently kids eat dinner with their families the better they do in school, the happier they say they are, and the less likely they are to get involved with drugs, alcohol, sex, or vandalism as tweens and teens. Get in the habit now and you’ll find it’s the best part of everyone’s day! Dinner is one strong glue for holding families together.

Help Your Child Develop Emotional Intelligence

Good grades are important, but emotional and social intelligence contribute more to your child’s success and happiness in life than intellectual smarts. Every day you have hundreds of chances to help your child develop emotional intelligence — in fact, every time your child expresses an emotion.

Help Your Child Develop Social Skills

Your child lives in a complicated social world, and now is when the groundwork is laid for peer relationships that support (rather than undermine) your child. Six strategies every parent can use to help your child learn to make friends and get along with peers.