Discipline without Bribing or Threatening

Bribing, coaxing and threatening are some strategies of choice for many parents and caregivers attempting to correct children’s behaviors. Much to their dismay, however, children sometimes respond to these tactics by misbehaving, ignoring or disobeying. If you’re a parent, caregiver, or professional who works with children and feel frustrated or at a loss in disciplining children, there are positive ways to encourage children to show appropriate behaviors. These strategies can be applicable to children below 5 and students in the elementary to intermediate levels:

  1. Set house rules. When schedules are explained and limits are written down, children learn that there is structure. Give time limits for play or gadget time. Warn children that time is almost up so they can proceed to the next activity.
  2. Be consistent. Rules and limits will only work when implementation is inconsistent. Adults in the household need implement these rules in the parents’ absence. It will help when parents orient the household help about what to do and model the expectations.
  3. Give options. Replace “no” with “do this instead” (e.g., “You can jump on the cushion on the floor, but instead of on the bed”). For older children, it may be possible to negotiate (e.g., “It looks like you’re not ready. Do you need 5 or 10 more minutes to finish that?”)
  4. Offer non-material rewards. Instead of bribing them with a treat, rewards can take the form of storytelling time, board game time, hide-and-seek time, massage time with mom or dad.

Positive discipline takes patience, practice and a little creative thinking!

Preparing Your Family for Disasters

Can anyone ever really be prepared for a sudden disaster? Aside from stocking up on basic needs like food, medicine, and clothing, it’s important for families to sit down and discuss what could happen in the event of a disaster. More importantly, it is good to be able to openly discuss the following with your children:

  1. How to call for help. It’s important to rehearse details such as numbers to call, routes to take, information, cards to have on hand, and where to go in the event of a disaster. Discuss with your children what may happen during a disaster and how things may become quite chaotic, how people may be hurt, and that it is important for the family to have a plan.
  2. Assign roles for each member. In the event of a disaster, each member has to be accountable for something. Make sure these are clear and give your kids age-appropriate tasks. Pair children with an older sibling or an adult.
  3. Feeling scared and crying is okay. Your children need to know that a disaster is scary and that if they feel scared and start to cry, it is okay. Although each one has a role to play, they can acknowledge frightened or confused feelings. In fact, should they feel scared or confused, it is best for them to approach an adult and ask questions. Drawing and writing may also help them deal with these experiences.
  4. If the family is separated, have a contingency plan. Figure out where to gather, who to run to, and what to do should each of you be in separate places.


Information in this website is not intended as a substitute for professional consult. Please seek consultation with a mental health clinician.