How to Manage and Discipline Kids Who Ignore Consequences

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How to Manage and Discipline Kids Who Ignore Consequences

No parent looks forward to disciplining their children, no matter what their age. They may act like they don’t care or even ignore you. It’s also common for kids to change from an “I don’t care” attitude to getting upset when you tell them they’ve lost certain privileges and deny any wrongdoing. Either way, until your kids who ignore consequences accept the outcome of their behavior, it will be tense, which is not healthy for anyone.

Yes—Every child is different. However, there are several ways you can approach discipline for kids who ignore consequences.

Be Careful With Your Words

In the heat of anger, even the best parent can say things they don’t mean. Try to calm down before speaking to your child. How to Manage and Discipline Kids Who Ignore ConsequencesGive yourself a timeout, take deep breaths, and prepare what words you will use. It’s also good to use “I” statements rather than “you” statements. When you start a sentence with, “You,” it puts the other person on defense. For example, “You are in trouble young man,” can quickly become an argument. Instead, try, “I need to speak with you about your bedroom.” Overall, using “I” statements can foster better communication between you and your children.

Don’t Make Emotional Consequences

It’s easy for parents to make emotional consequences in the heat of the moment. For example, you tell your daughter she’s lost her phone for the night, and she retorts back, “Fine, I don’t care.” Don’t respond with, “Fine, if you don’t care, let’s make it two days.” These are both emotional responses. Your daughter cares. However, adding another day won’t lead to, “I’m sorry, mom, dad, you’re right.” Most times, it will have the opposite effect and further the back-and-forth, tit-for-tat argument.

Don’t Continue to Argue

Children are skilled negotiators. They will argue with you over “what they deserve” or “don’t deserve” for hours, even days if you let them. Give them time to respond. There may be times when you can listen to their argument and make changes. For example, your son failed his math test. Before jumping to, “You’ve lost  . . . Because of . . .” ask him what happened. Start with, “John, I see you didn’t pass a big algebra test yesterday. What happened?” Here you’re opening the dialogue for a discussion, rather than an argument. Also, give John time to think about his response. You may find he’s struggling with a subject or something happened to throw him off during the test. Here, you can help him solve the problem, and there are no disciplinary actions. However, If he responds that he didn’t study—Yes, there is no negotiation. Instead, there’s a consequence.

Be Consistent With Consequences

Don’t change the rules. If necessary, write a list of rules and the punishment for breaking them and put them where your child can see them. Stay consistent and follow through with all disciplinary actions. If you don’t, you’re sending the message it’s okay to break some rules. The inconsistency is not only confusing for your child, but it also undermines your authority and tells them that the rules don’t apply equally.

Make sure the rules and consequences are age appropriate and reasonable. For example, teenagers that leave food and drinks in their room may lose the privilege of having those items in their room for a week.

Help Your Child Change Their Behavior

The easiest way to avoid punishment is to stop the behavior. When you’re both calm, talk to your child about what lead to the consequences and try to help them change. You don’t want to punish them again for the same issue, and they don’t want to lose privileges. For example, if they broke something when they were mad, help them express their anger in a way that’s healthy such as talking to someone, taking deep breaths, or walking away until their calmer.

No one gets a parenting handbook that will cover every child and situation when they become parents. It’s understandable that as they grow and you grow with them, rules will be broken, punishments are going to occur, and arguments over both will ensue. But, it doesn’t have to be a never-ending cycle. Parents can find the appropriate way to discipline kids who ignore consequences and achieve a happy outcome for everyone. For more details on how to handle your preschoolers, visit our website at




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