Think of discipline as a way to guide and teach your child about positive ways to behave. A parenting style that works well is one that uses discipline proactively. The goal is to use techniques that encourage your child's sense of responsibility, nurture self-esteem, and strengthen your relationship with your child. This may involve setting limits, explaining why a certain behavior is wrong and what can be done instead, discussing values, and using distraction, time-out, and natural and logical consequences.
Punishment may play a small part in discipline, but it is not the same as discipline. Punishment involves giving your child an unpleasant consequence when he or she does or doesn't do something.
No one technique of discipline works for all situations. The wise parent develops a variety of skills and approaches, such as:
It is important to continually learn and practice good parenting techniques, using different discipline strategies as your child grows and develops. All discipline techniques must be age-appropriate so that the child understands the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Babies younger than age 18 months cannot understand these concepts.
Contact your child's doctor if:
You can get other parenting tips from your child's doctor, a local hospital, and national parenting groups.
Other Works Consulted
- American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Behavior. In SP Shelov, RE Hannemann, eds., Caring For Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 4th ed., chap. 18, pp. 565–586. New York: Bantam.
- Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, American Academy of Pediatrics (1998, reaffirmed 2012). Guidance for effective discipline. Pediatrics, 101(4): 723–728. [Erratum in Pediatrics, 101(2): 433.] Also available online:
- Newman BM, Newman PR (2012). Early school age (4 to 6 year). In Development Through Life: A Psychosocial Approach, 11th ed., pp. 238–286. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
- Stein MT (2011). Difficult behavior. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph’s Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 335–338. New York: McGraw-Hill.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||John Pope, MD - Pediatrics|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics|
|Last Revised||February 22, 2013|
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