Being a parent is one of the most rewarding jobs you will have in your life. It is also one of the most difficult. It is generally expected that parents automatically know how to rear their children, but that is just not true. Successful parents are made, not born.

Effective discipline techniques for successfully raising good kids can be learned, and are uncomplicated enough to be adapted to the parenting styles of different kinds of people, and to different kinds of children. The most important aspects of a parent's approach is that the parent: A) knows the difference between discipline, punishment, and abuse, and chooses discipline over the latter; and B) is consistent.

Discipline

Discipline is a positive learning experience that sets behavioral limits and guidelines to lead children to and through adulthood. The idea is to allow the child to progress from parental discipline to self-discipline. As a parent your goal is to:

  • teach the child how to achieve for himself;
  • lead the child to self-discipline so that he will behave properly without your guidance; and
  • help the child develop a sense of pride and pleasure when he does what is right.

It's your job to help your child grow so that he is just as well behaved, just as thoughtful, just as sensible when you are not there as when you are.

Discipline means "to teach," and it is quite possible to discipline children without yelling and hitting, and without punishment or abuse. Discipline helps children learn how to control their own behavior. Punishing, hitting, spanking, yelling, or shaming a child lowers his self esteem, and will likely serve to stop his or her misbehavior only when the parent is nearby.

As a parent it is to your advantage to learn how to discipline your child without punishment or force. Injuries can happen when you spank your child, because it's too easy to lose control when you are angry. Children learn from being spanked that sometimes it is OK to hurt others, and that it is OK to hit when you are angry. And as your child grows older and loses his or her fear of you, and becomes stronger physically and intellectually, physical punishment will have little effect on his actions. Your parental influence will be weak if her only motivation is to avoid punishment; if, however, her motivation from the beginning is to please you and to learn and grow, they will look to you for guidance and will want to be good kids.

Read more on parenting by age group:

Infants

Toddlers

School-age Children

Adolescents

The above information was compiled from materials produced by Prevent Child Abuse America (Child Discipline: Guidelines for Parents by Gary May) and Center for Effective Discipline (How to Raise a Well-Behaved Child).