Poor discipline techniques happens for a variety of reasons. One of the more common reasons is when a parent is triggered by a fear of what their child might “become.” So something small that happens (a stolen piece of bubble gum, a white lie, etc) gets magnified to a much higher degree due to the fear of the parent. So when the child makes the error, the corresponding consequence balloons into something that is not reasonable or effective. Large scale threats that do not correspond to the error of the child will happen from the parent due to the parents own trigger or fear. The child will naturally learn to cover up their errors, due to the significant fear of major consequences. It then becomes a vicious cycle where kids and parents do not trust each other. So how to break the cycle? For parents who tend to say things they later regret, or make threats for areas where they will not follow through, having structure and predictability around errors in judgment for your child or adolescent will help. Pre-determine what the consequence will be for moral errors, allowing the child to experience the sting of their actions, but also helping the child learn to own their failures in a way that teaches them honesty and integrity. I believe a child is more likely to own their errors if they are not overwhelmed or frightened by unrealistic consequences. Parent, stay calm when your “trigger” happens. Work through your OWN feelings and remind yourself of your role as a parent. Remember that your child is looking to you for guidance, support and emotional consistency. Try not to be harsh, overbearing or irrational. Stay calm and appropriate in your demeanor and your words. Help your kid link cause and effect so that they may learn the lesson from the transgression. I get it, this is easier said then done. But practiced over time, children are more likely to confide their own experiences with errors with you, even knowing there may be a penalty.