Effective Discipline Techniques for 10-Year-Old Children

Most 10-year-olds need fewer consequences.
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By the time your child turns 10, she may be outgrowing some of the discipline strategies that worked well when she was younger. Time-out may be less effective and you may need to find new privileges to take away when she breaks the rules.

And, the behaviors that require discipline are likely to shift too, as your child blossoms into a tween. She may have replaced baby talk with back-talk and exchanged pint-sized temper tantrums with sulking.

Most 10-year-olds require discipline strategies that help them make better decisions in the future. And while your child might not be open to your feedback all the time, she should be open to trying to see things from your point of view.

What You Should Know About 10-Year-Olds

Most 10-year-olds are starting to develop more complex peer relationships. They often prefer to spend more times with their buddies, rather than the family. So don’t be surprised if your 10-year-old wants to spend the night at his friend’s house, rather than having pizza and watching a movie with you.

Around this age, children begin to face more academic challenges. While some of them really begin to shine academically, others may grow painfully aware that they struggle more with school than their peers.

It’s common for 10-year-olds to lack humility. Many of them are content to say, “I’m the fastest runner on the soccer team,” and, “I am the smartest kid in the whole school.”

Others, however, struggle with self-esteem. They may feel incompetent because they can’t keep up with their friends or they may be subjected to bullying at school.

How to Discipline Your 10-Year-Old

Disciplining your 10-year-old should be all about balance. It’s important to give your child enough freedom to make decisions on her own, it’s equally important to protect her from dangerous choices and unhealthy situations.

Here are some of the most effective discipline strategies for 10-year-olds:

  • Praise – Praise your 10-year-old for following the rules, making good choices, and working hard. Rather than saying, “You’re the best basketball player ever,” try saying, “You must be so proud of yourself for hustling so much during the game.”
  • Catch Your Child Being Good – Point out good behavior by giving your child positive attention. Say things like, “Nice job sitting down to do your homework the first time I told you to get to work,” or “Thank you for picking up your room today without a single reminder.”
  • Logical Consequences – When your child violates a rule, use logical consequences that teach life lessons. If he doesn’t clean his room, don’t let him have his privileges until his room is clean. Or, if you catch him performing dangerous stunts on his skateboard, take his skateboard privileges away for a certain period of time.
  • Natural Consequences – By age 10, most kids can connect the dots between their behavior and the natural consequences that result. So, stepping out of the way may be the best thing you can do. If your child refuses to wear a jacket on a chilly day, let him be cold. Or, if he forgets to pack his baseball glove, let him face the consequences from his coach.
  • Token Economy System – A token economy system may be the most effective way to encourage your 10-year-old to take on responsibility. Whether you provide tokens for doing chores or you give him tokens for doing his homework without arguing, a simple reward system can keep him motivated. You can also use a token economy system to address specific behavior problems, like defiance or dawdling.

How to Prevent Behavior Problems

Establishing a few simple guidelines can go a long way toward preventing and reducing behavior problems with your child: 

  • Structure your child's time. One of the best ways to help your child become more responsible is by giving her more guidance on how to spend her time. Establish a routine so she knows she needs to do her homework before dinner or that she needs to get her chores done before she watches TV.
  • Create a chore chart that serves as a reminder of her responsibilities. Then, rather than nag her to vacuum the living room or take out the trash, remind her to check her chore chart. Avoid power struggles by giving her more opportunities to get her work done independently.
  • Provide positive consequences that will motivate her to follow the rules. A token economy system can be a very effective way to get 10-year-olds to be more responsible. 
  • Establish clear household rules. Although your 10-year-old should be familiar with your expectations, it’s common for kids to argue, “I didn’t know that!” at this age. When you have a written list of rules, your child will be less likely to argue.
  • Make it clear that privileges must be earned. Privileges for your 10-year-old can include things like watching TV, playing on a tablet, and being allowed to go to a friend's home. Only allow your child to have those privileges when she behaves responsibly. 

    The Most Important Safety Issues You Should Address

    Most 10-year-olds want to be like the big kids. But, they aren’t quite ready to handle bigger challenges or more sophisticated problems. So it’s important to address the potential dangers your child is likely to face.

    Here are the most important safety issues you should address:

    • Monitor your child’s electronics use. Most 10-year-olds play video games, use tablets, and have access to smartphones. Don’t let your child create social media accounts that allow her to talk to strangers and allow her to view adult material or play inappropriate games. Children at this age struggle to make healthy choices when it comes to electronics so it’s important to monitor your child’s electronics use closely.
    • Meet your child’s friend’s parents. Get familiar with the families your 10-year-old will be spending time with. Contact the parents before your child goes to a friend’s house or meet the parents before your child attends a sleepover. It’s important to know what types of rules other families have and to make sure your child will be supervised.
    • Ensure your child is mature enough to stay home alone. Many parents start leaving their kids home alone around age 10. But just because your child turns 10, doesn’t mean she’s mature enough to stay home alone. Make sure your child can handle the responsibility before you grant that freedom.

      Raising a Happy, Healthy 10-Year-Old

      Hopefully, by age 10, your child requires fewer negative consequences than she did in the past. But if she’s struggling, don’t worry. She may simply need more practice managing certain behavior problems.

      If you are concerned about abnormal behavior or a possible behavior disorder, seek help from a professional. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about any concerns you have about her behavior or your discipline strategies. 

      View Article Sources
      • HealthyChildren.org: Disciplining Your Child
      • Morin A. 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do. New York, NY: William Morrow & Co; 2017.