Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Effective Parenting: Discipline
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:
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.
February 22, 2013
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.