UNITED STATES—When it comes to disciplining children there are tons of theories out there. Time-outs, punishments, taking away gadgets and toys or in some cases spanking is utilized as a tactic. Let’s be clear, this is not a piece about whether to spank or not to spank, this is a piece to utilize the importance of disciplining kids to prevent bad behavior from continuing to persist. I’m a firm believer that if you reward bad behavior, it will only allow that bad behavior to continue to fester.

Am I speaking from personal experience? Likely 2000 percent, because I’ve seen my parents make countless mistakes with my younger siblings, so much to the point that much of their adult behavior is a direct result of not being disciplined as a child. Is it possible to alter that behavior when someone is in their 20s? Not likely because once a behavior is learned, it becomes VERY difficult to halt it.

I see this behavior all too common with my nieces and nephews. There has always been that belief that boys are little devils and girls are angels; I beg to differ. I think girls can be a bit more difficult than boys. My niece is like a little firecracker. At the age of 3 she already talks in massive doses, never seems to want to sleep and has a way of trying to get what she wants at any cost. She has a tendency to throw a fit in public at times if she doesn’t get what she wants.

I’ve come to realize from watching my sister discipline her, that it’s best that she doesn’t lose composure when my niece throws a fit. She’s looking for that attention, but at the same time, I’m super proud that she has learned not to cave into the demands of a 3-year-old. She is slowly beginning to learn that just because she wants something doesn’t mean she is always going to get it.

My sister has learned the caveat to getting her daughter to behave is teaching that if you indulge in bad behavior there are consequences. The same sentiment can be echoed with my nephew. Now he’s slightly older, but still at that pre-teen age. He’s a goofball, and has the impression that it’s okay to goof around in school. Not good, not good at all. In the past week, his parents got a call from his teacher laying out specific details of his disruptive behavior in class.

Was he surprised to discover that so many people found out so quickly about his bad behavior? Yes, because he began to worry about what type of trouble he might face. This is a kid where giving a spanking won’t work or taking items away doesn’t have much of an impact. However, there is something that he cares about: football. When the threat became evident to him that he might not play in an upcoming game his behavior did a complete 360 so fast you’d thought the end of the world was coming.

When it comes to discipline, it’s about thinking what action would have an impact on altering the child’s behavior to a positive degree. It sometimes requires a bit of thinking. Don’t act hastily, never discipline out of anger. It tends to happen all too often with parents because they can sometimes be livid at some of the behaviors or actions of their children.

Disciplining a child can be a nightmare for some parents because they might not have the courage to muster up doing what needs to be done. But always remember this; if you don’t curb bad behavior in the beginning, you’re allowing that behavior to continue to persist. The longer the child is allowed to get away with bad behavior, the more challenging it becomes to revert it as they get older.