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How do you discipline a ten year old?

From time to time all children act up, but now your child is ten you may need to start taking a slightly different approach to discipline - after all, the timeout approach is unlikely to work for much longer; and they're also probably getting a little beyond reward charts and the like too.

How should you handle it?

As your child matures and increasingly craves more independence and responsibility, teaching them the consequences of their actions can in itself be a very effective form of discipline. However - this may go somewhat against your natural instincts as a parent.

Up until this point, most discipline has been focused on prevention and protection. However - now rather than ‘rescuing' your child, you'll need to take a step back, and let them deal with the consequences of their own actions. For example, if they've left their homework until the last minute and now can't get it completed in time - rather than stepping in and helping them, it might be better to let them see and feel the consequences for themselves. Getting a poor mark and a talking to from the teacher may well make them plan ahead better next time.

Of course, if it doesn't have the desired effect then you will still have to step in. I'd recommend the removal of certain privileges - e.g. don't allow them to go and play with their friends until their school work is done. The removal of TV and computer game time can also work well.

As with disciplining all age groups, consistency is absolutely vital. Remember not to make empty threats, and stand firm. If you've said no to playing outside until after the homework's done - then stick to it. If you don't, you risk undermining your own authority.

Likewise, make sure you don't lose your temper and make up unrealistic threats of punishment - e.g. "You, young man, are never allowed to play on that computer game ever again!"

If you do feel like you're losing your cool, hold your tongue. Any punishment needs to be fair, appropriate and above all realistic - if it's not, you'll just lose credibility.

Finally, beware of dolling out overly lengthy punishments. There's no real motivator for your child to modify their behaviour if they feel that everything's already been taken away from them.

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