Why “Telling” is Ineffective Discipline

We would all like our children to gain from our experiences and our wisdom. Therefore, it seems only natural for us to tell our children what to do and what not to do. After all, young people will learn from what we tell them, right? Wrong! In truth, telling and lecturing are poor discipline strategies.

Here are the top 5 problems with relying on telling to instill discipline:

  1. Telling is perceived as an attempt to control, and people do not want to be controlled.
  2. Telling creates defensiveness and a tendency to resist.
  3. Telling implies that something has to be changed. People don’t mind change as much as they mind being changed.
  4. Telling aims at obedience, not inspiration.
  5. Telling—like punishing and rewarding—fails the critical test: How effective is this approach when you are not around? When you have told your youngster what to do or what not to do and you are not around, how will your child behave?


Also, remember that responsibility is always taken, never told. You will accomplish what you want more effectively and with less stress by sharing and by asking reflective questions. These positive discipline approaches avoid negative side effects such as stimulating a natural desire to show independence.