How do you tell your child off?


I hate telling my children off. Really really hate it. Not just because it forces me to admit that sometimes they aren’t the little angels they try to convince me they are. Because I’m never quite sure if I’m doing it right.

Is there a right or wrong way to tell your child off? How do you know if you’ve got the tone right? I’m not talking about the times when it’s really serious and instinct just takes over and you really really need to let them know how serious something is. Like the time my 6yo decided to run into a main road after her ball. Still gives me shivers.

I’m talking about the incidents that you want them to know that they have done wrong, you are really peed off and brassed off that they have done it. I have girls that cry quite easily when they are told off. It always makes me wonder if I’ve overdone it when the tears arrive or whether that is just how they are.

I had an incident today when I really needed to show our 7yo how her behaviour must change. What she is doing isn’t terribly naughty but it isn’t doing her any favours. I had to try to tell her in front of her teacher. Oh the pressure! Do I blast her and make the teacher think I’m not to be messed with? Er no. Do I chicken out and say ill speak with her at home? Er no again, I wanted her to know both the teacher and I agree.

I have to admit I did chicken out a bit and threaten her with wait until I tell your Dad. That’s hilarious- he’s no more scary than me.

I thought I was doing fairly well and then the killer moment came. The little hand that slipped into mine and my heart melted.

So I’m none the wiser. Is shouting considered the correct way or are you losing control if you raise your voice?

If they promise never to do the act again, have you achieved what you set out do?

How do other parents do it? How do you know you are being serious enough? Where did you learn to discipline your children? They certainly never covered this in ante-natal classes!


  1. says

    Oh Helen, I know exactly what you mean. Sentinels I shout and I hear myself and cringe. Shouting was never in my parenting plan! Sometimes though you can be so exasperated that your parenting becomes less than perfect. Don’t worry – nobody’s parenting is perfect (not even the super mums in the playground) so you’re fine!

    As for speaking in front of the teacher, I had the same problem. I calmly told my son that if his teacher wasn’t happy with his behaviour then I was afraid he wouldn’t be able to go to karate that night. It worked!

  2. says

    We all shout sometimes, you ca’nt help it, but it’s definitely not the best option. I try to be calm, and the more serious the crime then the more level my voice. Follow the advice they give for pets! Speak firmly and with strength, look them in the eye and let them know you’re the boss. I can still make my 19 year old tear up, and that’s a win. Doesn’t actually have a great deal of effect any more, but at least he knows I’m serious!

  3. says

    I do raise my voice sometimes but generally only if it’s something that must be stopped right now or my boy has worn me down. I always try to get my son to make eye contact with me because, even at 3 he will look everywhere other than at me when I’m having stern words. Eye contact means he knows I’m serious!

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