At 10 years old, your child is maturing into a pre-teen and no longer needs to rely on your judgment alone. Children who are entering the tween years can determine the difference between right and wrong for themselves. To teach your child accountability for his actions, your approach to discipline should shift from instruction to guidance, placing a greater emphasis on the expectation that he exercise self-discipline when making choices.
Loss of Privileges
Issuing a timeout is a common discipline technique for young children, but a 10-year-old may need a consequence that is more substantial. In their co-authored book "Common Sense Parenting," Ray Burke, Ph.D., and Ron Herron suggest restricting your daughter's privileges as a consequence of bad behavior. To increase the effectiveness of this technique, Burke and Herron recommend pairing the behavior to the consequence given. For example, if your daughter neglects her school work, she loses the privilege of her free time until her assignments are completed. A 10-year-old child is capable of understanding that when she makes a choice to act badly, she is choosing the sterner consequence attached to it as well.
Another discipline technique for 10-year-old children is adding chores because of inappropriate behavior. For example, if your son speaks disrespectfully to you, you assign him the chore of cleaning the dinner dishes that evening in addition to his regular housework. Burke and Herron contend that this disciplinary technique is not only useful in correcting bad behavior, but it also teaches your child responsibility. Although he is still young, your son is at an age where he should be held to a higher standard of self-control than he was as a toddler. If he fails to do so, the punishments are more severe.
Making amends for mistakes made is an important life lesson. At 10 years old, your child is old enough to make a reasonable effort toward restitution if her behavior results in damages. For example, if your daughter is careless and breaks something that belongs to someone else, part of her discipline should be that she will be responsible for replacing it. Your child will either have to perform simple chores to earn money or give up some her allowance. The principle behind the technique of restitution isn't to shame or discourage your child. Instead, you are preparing her for a world that will not shield her when she makes a mistake, but rather will insist she accept responsibility for her actions.
Although it is not a corrective technique, positive reinforcement is an effective teaching tool and preventative disciplinary approach. The Healthy Children website recommends pointing out good behavior and praising your child for it as often as possible. With your child's growing maturity, you may come to expect good behavior from him on a regular basis. While this isn't an unreasonable expectation, it becomes a problem when you begin to miss opportunities to praise him for it. At 10 years old, your child has not outgrown his need for your approval. Acknowledge him when he exhibits kindness, dependability or generosity if you want those behaviors to continue.
- "Common Sense Parenting: A Proven, Step-By-Step Guide For Raising Responsible Kids And Building Happy Families"; Ray Burke, Ph.D., and Ron Herron; 1996
- Healthy Children: Other Approaches To Discipline