Parenting: What To Do When Discipline Doesn’t Work


Playing with P.R.I.D.E.


If you are a parent who has tried time-out, behaviour charts, the naughty corner, consequences and yet your child is still acting out, having frequent tantrums, being aggressive or ignoring your requests, it might be time to think about another tactic.

Who knew play could improve behaviour?

Who knew play could improve behaviour?

The research is clear that consistent consequences and limits will result in positive behaviour change in children – but – research has also shown that children are more likely to comply with requests, abide by limits and boundaries and have less tantrums when they have a trusting, loving and secure relationship with their parents.

One of the most powerful and effective ways to achieve this is by playing with your child, 5-10 minutes a day. But many parents don’t really know how to play with their kids. It can be daunting and awkward when faced with spending a focused amount of time getting into your child’s world. So here are some tips to help you connect with your child with PRIDE:

P: Praise

Give your child descriptive praise and specific praise e.g. “That’s a very colourful picture you’ve drawn, I like how you’ve used different shades of green”

R: Reflect

Reflect back what your child is saying, and expand on it, to show you are really listening and engaging e.g. Tom: “Broom broom, car is going up the ramp” Dad: “Broom, broom there goes the car up the ramp, woah onto the roof”

I: Imitate

Imitate your child’s play, copy what he or she is doing, so if she is building blocks, then you might build one alongside her, if he is making shapes with playdough, make some shapes alongside him.

D: Describe

Commentate on your child’s actions, like a sport commentator describing the action in a football match “Woah, your building up the blocks, the red one is on top of that green one!”

E: Enthusiasm

Focus on the play and become genuinely involved and you’ll find yourself becoming enthusiastic and engaged with your child.

It’s also important that during this play time, you try to avoid criticism, questioning or directing the play. This play time is designed to be 10 minutes of child directed play – let them show you their world. The only exception to this is if your child is being aggressive. If this is the case, simply let them know in a calm voice that you will need to stop the play until they can play nicely.

By keeping up daily play every day you should start to see a change in your interactions with your children and your attempts to apply time out, consequences and other discipline strategies should be more effective as well.

Scarlett Gill is a compassionate and empathic clinical psychologist who specialises in working with kids, teens, adults, parents, and families. She is dedicated to helping people overcome whatever problems they are experiencing in their lives, whether it be anxiety, stress, depression, low-self-esteem, self-harm, and behavioural problems.


Leave a Comment