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WebMD Expert Discussion: How Do You Discipline Your Child?

It’s one of the biggest parenting conundrums: discipline. Am I doing it right? Am I doing it enough or too much? Am I being a pushover or a drill sergeant? What techniques should I use?

WebMD’s guest parenting expert Tanya Altmann, MD, a mom herself, can sympathize. She also knows that every household has a different approach to discipline -- in terms of consequences, rules, and what’s tolerated and what’s not. In the WebMD online discussion Healthy Family Routines, Altmann outlines four principles that can work no matter what your overall approach to discipline.

Altmann calls it the PLAN strategy:

  • P is for “picking your battles.” Choose one major behavior problem -- like hitting or biting -- to work on at a time, she says. For one week, focus on thatbehavior.
  • L is for “light at the end of the tunnel.” Don’t give up midstream, Altmann urges. Keep your eyes on the prize to help you soldier on when it seems so much easier to cave to a tantruming 3-year-old.
  • A is for “all caregivers on the same page.” If Mommy enforces a rule, that rule doesn’t change once Daddy gets home. Have a meeting so all the caregivers can agree on the rules, and then write them down and post them.
  • N is for “nurture success.” Set your child up to succeed by watching for good behavior and then praising and rewarding it. Rewards don’t have to be ice cream or toys. Altmann suggests a simple sticker or star, a giant hug and kiss, or special time with Mom or Dad. Children also learn from you, she says, so model the good behavior you expect from your kids.

Above all, Altmann says, the biggest key to success with discipline is consistency. Inconsistency leaves children confused and insecure. Consistency with discipline is how children learn.

How do you approach child discipline?

Discussion led by Tanya Altmann, MD Guest Expert
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Guest Expert What is a guest expert?

Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP, is a best-selling author, a working mother, and a UCLA-trained pediatrician, practicing in Southern California.

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