The Importance Of Following Through

Dec 9, 2015 | Parenting Blog | 0 comments

Disciplining your child can be hard at times, especially if you are caught in the moment and empty threats just come flying out of your mouth. Empty threats are one of the worst forms of discipline out there because they are fake threats to scare your child into doing something.  These threats are usually things that you have no intentions of ever following through with and only say them for the effect.  “If you don’t clean-up your toys I will throw them all away!”  “If you don’t listen this week, we are going to cancel your birthday party!”  The more you use empty threats to discipline the more you will lose control of the situation because your child will soon realize that you are not going to take anything away from them. 
From my experience working with children, the best advice I can give a parent is to take a deep breath and be in a calm state of mind before starting to discipline.  Remember that following through is what validates your request and earns your child’s respect.  If you are not willing to throw away all of your child’s toys don’t threaten them with it.  Instead you could say, “we are not going to be able to do anything fun today until your toys are put away.”  This encourages your child to look for a positive reason to clean-up their toys because they know something fun is coming their way.Another common empty threat that I often hear is the cancellation of a family trip or a party.  Are you really going to cancel your family trip or a birthday party that you have been planning for a few months and already put down a deposit for?  No!  Then don’t threaten your child with it.  Usually children act up when they are excited about an upcoming event like their birthday party or a family vacation. Acknowledge that you notice they are excited but that they still need to listen or they might get privileges taken away like:  not being able to open their birthday presents during their party or maybe sitting out on a few rides when you get to Disneyland.

Give your child realistic consequences that you are willing to follow through on, even it if means cancelling your plans or rearranging the whole day.  Remember that following through is what validates your request and earns your child’s respect. The more you use empty threats to discipline the more you will lose control of the situation.  Also learn how to share control with your child.  Children who feel like they are in control of their own actions are more incline to do what you ask them to do.  This makes children feel empowered and confident that you trust them enough to make their own decisions.
Just for fun, here are some empty threats that I overheard parents telling their children through the years when I used to work in a preschool.  These left an impression on me because they made me do a double take and secretly asked myself if they really did just say that:“Ms. Jamie knows Santa Claus so if you hit anyone at school today she will call Santa up and he won’t bring you any presents this Christmas.”

“If you don’t stop crying, you will have to stay in Ms. Jamie’s office….in the dark.”

“We are not going to Disneyland if you don’t listen to your teachers this week.”

“If you don’t leave now then I am going to leave you at school all night.”

Are there any empty threats that ever may you do a double take? Please share.

By Jamie Brown – Former Preschool Teacher, then Director, and  Parent & Consultant for


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