The Worst Ways to Discipline a Child

Updated on December 7, 2018

Here's a good question for a lot of parents who have children, defiant or not: what are the most effective ways to discipline your children?

Some people live by "time outs" to correct their children's bad behavior. They'd just seat them on the naughty chair, stool, or step on a staircase. They'd set the timer for a few minutes, and keep them there. Most often, it takes place in a rather boring room.

Some others have a better approach to correcting their kids: spanking. They'd use their open palms, a wooden paddle, or a belt to slap the buttocks (bare or clothed) of their defiant children. Sometimes, it can take one light one, and in some other cases, it can take a few lashings.

Many experts agree that being slapped on the buttocks by hand, belt, or some piece of wood can encourage violent behavior or cause mental problems later in life. But there are much worse punishments that go beyond being hit by Mom or Dad. There are much viler punishments that can be easily reported in child abuse cases.

What parenting skills mentally scar a lot of kids? What makes them susceptible to post-traumatic stress syndrome or violent behavior?

Simply put, what are the top 3 most terrible ways to correct the behavior of developing children?

Would You LOUDLY Tell the World that You Stole Candy from the Store?

If you think not, then why should parents have their kids hold up signs that say that they have F's and D's at school?
If you think not, then why should parents have their kids hold up signs that say that they have F's and D's at school?

#3: Public Humiliation

Remember reading Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, The Scarlet Letter, in high school? Well, imagine modern-day Hester Prynnes in jeans and sneakers who hold up or wear versions of their scarlet letters on street curbs. They would be shamed by those who drive or walk by.

I'm not saying that they are holding up big A's for adultery. Parents made them hold or wear those that proclaim their offenses.

Unfortunately, that thought became manifest via those parents with those kinds of parenting styles. They would write signs that said, “I got caught smoking. Ain’t I a butt," “I did 4 questions...and said I wasn’t going to do it…GPA 1.22…honk if I need (an) education,“ or, “My future = shaky.” Then, they would drive their children to the street corner and hold up those signs.

Experts say that those forms of public humiliation are damaging to children. Psychiatrist Wendy Walsh is one of them. “Kids are shamed enough. Every parent unknowingly instills plenty of shame just by shooting a condemning glance or a critical word in the direction of a child. Punishment that involves additional public shame on top of private family shame can be dangerous, damaging and have lifelong effects," she said.

Think of holding signs that said, "I lied to Mom about my grades at school," as pillories of the day. It is sure to damage a child's self-esteem.

See What Hotsaucing Can Do if It Gets TOO FAR?

#2: Hotsaucing

Hot sauce is meant to be a seasoning or condiment of various foods. Many people spice up their Pad Thai with Sriracha sauce. Some people coat their Buffalo wings with a mixture of Tabasco and melted butter to make them delectable.

But few people have the gall to use it as a way to effectively punish their children.

Southerners have made the practice of putting drops of hot pepper-flavored liquid into their mouths or dabbing it on their tongues widespread throughout America. They claim that, the practice, called hotsaucing, is effective to curb lying, talking back, or saying bad words. Some of them are the of the Christian faith, and they believe that a spicy sauce can purge traces of Satan out of them.

But putting hot sauce on a child can have negative effects. Many sauces have a lot of capsaicin, which makes chili peppers hot. If regularly done to correct a child, he would suffer from choking due to a swollen tongue and burns in the esophagus. He would be susceptible to allergies as well. Parents can overdo it by having a child eat a plate of food with copious amounts of sauce as punishment. Also, they can do it too much by pouring it into his mouth, and hold it for a long time.

Hotsaucing + Cold Shower = FAIL

#1: Cold Showers

In the military, those who resisted military orders because of freedom of thought, conscience, or religion, known as conscientious objectors, would take a cold shower until they give in to service.

Imagine if parents did the same thing to their kids just because they got in trouble at school.

How can showers with cold water be such a bad punishment? Well, children are not developmentally used to colder temperatures in the water. Having them take those showers poses their risks for pneumonia and other ailments. They prefer nice, warm, comforting baths instead. Also, in some cases, they can be afraid to take showers later in life because their mothers made them take them for being fresh to the teacher.

How do you punish your kids?

See results

Parents who are ineffective in child discipline dream up with the most bizarre punishments that can be candidates for child abuse. Unless they find methods that can correct their kids without risking injuring, mentally scarring, or even killing them, they will continue making their lives horrible with improper child rearing.

Those are three methods of discipline that are worthy of Child Protective Services custody cases.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        Ciji Carter 

        6 weeks ago

        Wow, cold shower equals pneumonia!!!! Have you ever looked up the benefits of cold shower therapy. That’s right therapist use it often. It is great for your mind and your organs. Such ignorance is amazing. All of my 5 kids take cold showers daily and have no problem with it. They have never been sick. Please stop advising without proper research.

      • profile image

        Dena Brumley 

        10 months ago

        My mom and I share joint custody of my daughter. They currently live with my sister her husband and their four kids She is constantly putting cayenne pepper on their tongue and then laughing about it. She also freaks out and locks them outside of her house.once she kicked my 9 yr old neice out od the caron the feder road and told her she could walk home. is there anything I can do to get my daughter out of that negative environment?

      • profile image


        24 months ago

        my wife wanted to put my daughter in a cold bath last night... I stopped it, but how do you eliminate the fact that she was abused as a kid and now see abuse methods as right?

      • profile image


        2 years ago

        I made the mistake of running a bath aged 7 or 8 and not putting any hot water in it. It was a mistake and could have been resolved by putting hot water in.

        My fathers answer was to make me get undressed infront of him and make me sit in a freezing cold bath. At the age of 49 I have just spent the best part of £1200 on EMDR to defreeze and desensitise this memory. I feel much calmer but I still think he should never have been left in charge of children.

      • profile image


        3 years ago

        What if the mother tell the

        Child the cops will come, or she will have to go to hospital

      • profile image


        5 years ago

        Yes, they were used in the olden days. Are we still alive? Did it kill us? No. What did it do? It made us more respectful of our elders and taught us to behave by the rules or else. That is why the children of this generation are such disrespectful twats. You can no longer punish your child without someone calling protective services, so the kids are becoming disobedient. I think if it works without putting the childs safety or life in peril, what's the harm in a bit of hot sauce to the tongue? A couple minutes in a cold shower? Or a couple swats with the belt. As long as you aren't beating them black and blue or causing wounds that will hurt them permanently. Then why not show them discipline, I never had kids shooting up my schools or breaking into my house with weapons growing up. Because they were obedient and understood the rules of society. Its people like you who are to blame for the world being as it is now. You got punished for what you did wrong as a child and you learned. Now pass it on to your kids or wear protection and spare us from you idiotic reproductions who think they deserve everything and don't have to do anything.

      • peachpurple profile image


        5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

        i don't use harsh punishment.

        Public disgrace and using hot peppers, cold showers are used during the olden days.

      • weighloss profile image


        6 years ago

        A very interesting hub. Defineltly helps to better understand how to discipline children.. I want to read more of your hubs.

      • ChrisLingCheng profile image


        6 years ago

        My fiancé and I watched the video you shared above and we are very incensed that this mother is still taking care of her children. Thanks for writing about the three most terrible parenting styles. We now know what to avoid when we have our own children. :) Looking forward to reading more of your hubs!

      • SteveMacken profile image


        8 years ago from Galway, Ireland.

        Very interesting... I have to say, none of the methods of punishment you have listed is commonplace in Ireland. In fact, I'm quite sure that any parent caught committing such heinous acts against their children would find themselves on the wrong side of child protection laws.

        We, my wife and I, are lucky that we don't have to discipline our children very often. We have always, from day one, treated our children with respect as individuals and discussed with them each and every issue as it has occurred.

        Understanding your children and discussing with them the rights and wrongs of what they do helps them to understand themselves and the world around them, it also teaches them to become self disciplining as they analyse their own behaviour.

        And now that I've written this down, I hope it doesn't come back to haunt me later... :-)

        Voted up and useful.

      • PaperNotes profile image


        8 years ago

        It is hard to be a parent. You have to think of ways to give your child all the possible good things for him or her. Yet material things are not the only needs of a child. You also need to raise the child to become a well-disciplined and good person. The child has a mind of her own, that is what parents should always remember. Children are not like robots which can easily be programmed to do the parent's desires. Showing love and appreciation to children is more likely to produce good results instead of inflicting pains and sufferings to them.


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