How To Reprimand Children Without Crushing Their Confidence

Karen Phillip

Relationships Expert

Our children are not yet fully formed, intelligently function people, they are children. They have a child-like brain, child-like understanding, child-like processing. The frustration comes when parents may forget this physiological aspect of their child and expect more than they can deliver.

We often speak too globally for a child and while an adult brain may understand what ‘being good’ or ‘tidy your room’ means; children can often have a completely different understanding of that direction.


When we talk about reprimand what is it we actually mean; it is the strong expression of your disapproval. Anytime we do this to a child, we may generate in them a feeling of self-disappointment, let down and self-esteem drop. We often are upset or disappointed in a behaviour or failure to do what it is we have asked or requested of them. The first thing we must be aware of is if the child fully understood the direction or request. This is often where we fall down. While we may expect the child to know exactly what we mean, we can not be sure unless we ask them what it is they believe we want them to do. This again can be tricky if they parrot back your instructions. We need to ensure they understand by asking ‘what do you think I meant by that?’. After their response, we then ask ‘and how do you think you will do that?’

These are when the child and we can gain clarification, avoid confusion, seek explanation and move forward with the request in a clear and defined way.

If the child has not undertaken or completed the task of which you have asked, instead of immediately becoming frustrated or upset with them, ask them the reason they have not done or finished it.

It is surprising at this time some children simply forget what they were doing, are not sure on how to complete or progress with the task, get refocused on something else they felt was more important, and the list goes on. Is it a deliberate refusal or ignoring of your request; not always.

This is when we speak with them to ask them what the reason is they have not done what was asked. Their reason may not seem logical to you however to a child’s brain it may be very logical indeed. This is also a great opportunity to understand and learn how your child deciphers, understands and logicise things.

Our children need to be noticed for things they try to do as well as things they achieve. If we miss the first part, they can sometimes feel less capable or worthy. They are developing and learning; they are not supposed to get it right all the time and after all, how many adults make errors, fail to achieve their goal or do what is expected of them. A child is a development in the making, not a completed project.

For parents who are often stressed when their child does not complete required tasks (who isn’t), there are a few tips to help you obtain the results you want while understanding the child is not the behaviour, the behaviour is the behaviour. These tips also help to ensure the child remains confident in their ability to learn, make a mistake and try again:

1. Clear and concise direction on exactly what you expect
2. Ask them to respond back their understanding of what you asked
3. Determine how they intended to do this required task
4. Provide them with a timeframe within to have it done
5. Ensure your request is age appropriate, and the child can do it (if not teach them)
6. Notice the attempt, the effort, and the result, if they achieve that
7. Praise them often, even for those small things they do
8. Reward them with a smile, cuddle or time with you

If you do need to ‘reprimand’ your child do it as direction, not condemnation. Remember a child is learning and not suppose to always get it right. Sit with your child and explain your expectation and disappointment before asking them the reason it was not complete or done correctly. Listen to their response.

This is when you can give your child direction, assistance and answer any questions they may have. Most all children want to please their parent; they want their parent to be proud of them, to notice them, to like them. The difference between not doing something so you notice them is little different to them doing something, so you do notice them. If your child does their required job and all they get is a ‘fine’ they may feel dismissed or un-noticed. When they do not complete something is often when the most attention is provided, albeit bad attention.

If the frustrated parent wishes to reprimand their child doing it in this way ensures the child remains feeling safe, secure and self-confident

a)   Express disappointment that your required job was not done or their behaviour was disappointing.
b)   Ask the reason they did or did not do what you asked
c)   Enquire as to their understanding of your request
d)   Determine if there was a specific reason they chose not to do the required request
e)   Thank them for sharing their understanding and thoughts
f)   Keep voice low and quiet
g)   Explain again exactly what you need of them
h)   Ask how you may be able to assist them to achieve what it is you want from them
i)   Aid them to accomplish the task if necessary
j)   Praise them for any effort or attempt they have made, successful or not

A parent’s job is to teach their child how to grow up to live an independent adult life and to also educate them in the correct way to communicate to another person. If we yell, scream or demean our child, they will learn this. If we tolerate, control, acknowledge, praise and support, this is what they will learn.

What do you prefer for your child?


Follow Karen: Website


Like what you read? Subscribe to our free newsletter for exclusive content and special offers


Get your dose of fabulous delivered to your inbox.

Sign up for Rescu's newsletter to get updates on top stories, horoscopes, trending videos, and inspirational content.


Get fashion, beauty, finance, health and love advice from our experts.

Rescu is an online fashion, beauty and premium lifestyle site. Whether you are looking for fashion, beauty, finance, health and love advice you will find a wealth of information from our resident experts. We publish new content daily so don’t be left behind. Log on daily for the latest fashion, beauty and celebrity news as it happens. Subscribe to our newsletter and enter our contests to win fantastic freebies.