Discipline Phrase: “You don’t have the freedom to…”

A simple phrase you can say to your child when your child is not obeying you. This one-liner is direct and communicates your point. 

Little toddler with blue eyes standing on grass

A discipline phrase or one-liner is a great way to communicate to your child that what they are doing is not okay. It is very helpful to have short little phrases you use any time the child is out of line to be a simple, no-nonsense way of letting your child know he or she is out of line. 

You Don’t Have the Freedom To…

“You don’t have the freedom to…” is a phrase I got from On Becoming Preschoolwise page 78. I love it. It seems to be a phrase that leaves no room for rebuttal. Everything from “you don’t have the freedom to tell mommy no” to “you don’t have the freedom to XYZ without permission.”

With this phrase, my tone will change from time to time based on the seriousness of the offense. As a general rule, I try to stay pretty nonchalant in my manner of speaking. It is frank, to the point, but lacking emotion in any direction.

This leaves room for some shock/dismay/surprise/etc. when the offense is especially serious. This would be saved for moments of disrespectful speaking toward a parent. “Whoa, (look of surprise/dismay–head cocked) you do not have the freedom to speak to your mother like that.” You might notice that I take away the contraction. Instead of “don’t” it is “do not.”

This phrase lets my children know that they have overstepped their boundaries. They know their actions or speech are not acceptable. It is good because not only does it tell your child something he did was unacceptable, it tells him what it was. You aren’t simply saying “that’s not okay,” you are using a real noun or verb.

This phrase offers concrete information for your child to process, not just an ambiguous idea or best guess. “You don’t have the freedom to…” has served us well.


This phrase works very well for when your child talks back to you or disobeys you. The exact words you use are not necessarily important–consistency is always key when it comes to discipline. This phrase is helpful to help remind you about the concept of freedoms and the fact that allowing too many freedoms leads to disobedience, but you can certainly choose your own phrase if this one just isn’t your thing. 

I have a lot of one-liners listed below.

A simple one-liner to get your kids to obey Pinnable Image

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3 thoughts on “Discipline Phrase: “You don’t have the freedom to…””

  1. Oh, my! What an awesome post, Val. I haven't made it this far in the -wise series, but your posts lead me to believe that I need to continue in my -wise journey. I love this tip! Thank you for posting. =)

  2. wonderful! I totally plan on incorporating that into my daily language, not only at home, but in my classroom. Middle schoolers will respond to this nicely! Thanks!


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