Famous Fathers

Discipline- How much freedom should your kids have?

Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Discipline is not the first thing to pop into your head when you hold your baby for the first time. You think “They ‘re so fragile and innocent.” You definitely don’t imagine them one day running riot in the Sainsbury’s Local, causing a nuisance, or refusing to do what you say.

The idea of having to chastise or control your child isn’t at the forefront of a parent’s mind when they have kids. Parents want to nurture their children and give them the chance to find out who they are. But eventually every parent needs to lay down the law.


Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s ability to reign in their kids has been recently called into question, with one report branding their children ‘unruly‘. Their notoriety is even causing concern amongst Jolie’s future neighbours.

The Jolie-Pitt brood don’t have the same conventional structures as other children may have. They’re at home when most kids would be at school. Their parents are recently divorced Hollywood stars with hectic work hours. And to top it off, they’re on the move, a lot.

You could understand if they were acting out. But even so, parents have to discipline their kids and teach them self-discipline.

Discipline or control?


Telling your kids what to do is part of being a parent. It’s how they learn. Sure, it’s great to give them the freedom to make their own choices and follow their own interests. But they may also need guidance and support if they make mistakes.

Structure and routine is a part of that. Children may want to stay up until 3 am, or eat ice-cream at breakfast. That doesn’t mean that they should, or that it would be good for them.

According to neuro-psychologist, Karen Spangenberg structures help children to regulate their behaviour. You don’t have to do everything for them and they can have their freedom, but your presence and support is reassuring and helps them to develop their own structures in the future.

What can you do to help?


Here are some ways you can encourage good behaviour:

  • Be a good role model to your child
  • Discuss their behaviour with them and practice empathy
  • Have clear rules and consequences that you follow through on
  • Give them responsibilities
  • Listen to them when they act out

It’s important for children to have stability, clear boundaries and a routine to follow. As much as it may seem easier to give them what they want in the moment, you are doing them no favours in the long run. Ask any classroom teacher, it isn’t a myth: children want boundaries.

You won’t be a monster for enforcing your rules. They’ll thank you for it later in life.