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Parents, Kids, and Discipline

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Choosing Discipline Techniques continued...

What about corporal punishment and spanking?

Corporal (physical) punishment, such as spanking, isn't recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics or mental health associations. Why? Primarily because nonphysical discipline techniques work better with fewer negative consequences. According to the AAP, spanking may result in the following problems:

  • Spanking may make children more aggressive
  • Spanking can become more violent and harm a child
  • Spanking may cause children to think that it's OK to physically hurt someone you love

Tips for Maintaining Discipline

Whichever discipline techniques you choose to use, they can be more effective if you keep these ideas in mind:

Guide your discipline techniques to fit well with your child's temperament. 

The key to effective discipline is to understand who your child is, especially his temperamental style, and use your discipline to help him achieve his potential given those talents and tendencies. But your goal should not be to turn him into someone he is not (for example, to turn a boisterous intense child into a mellow laid-back one).

Communicate your discipline plan

Discipline techniques shouldn't come "out of the blue," especially if you're trying something new. To children who are old enough to understand, during a planned discussion (not in the heat of the moment) explain the technique, why you are using it, and what you hope it will accomplish. Older children may be included in choosing which rewards and consequences would be appropriate.

Be respectful of your child

If you show your child respect -- even when disciplining your child -- your child is more likely to respect you, other family members, and other people in his or her life. If you "lose it" or overreact with disrespect, apologize. Behave the way you want your child to behave. 

Be consistent

Any technique will fail if you don't follow through or enforce consequences consistently. If you say, for example, that toys will be off limits for a week, then take them away if the offending behavior continues.

Don't break your discipline rules by giving in during public exhibitions of bad behavior, such as a child throwing a tantrum while shopping. If you give in to the child's demands, the tantrums will continue. 

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