DISCIPLINE Children and Teens
Articles for Parents
All Family Resources
Alphabetical List
  1. Children and Divorce
  2. Teenagers with Eating Disorders
  3. Teens: Alcohol and Other Drugs
  4. The Depressed Child
  5. Child Abuse - The Hidden Bruises
  6. Children Who Can't Pay Attention
  7. Children Who Won't Go to School
  8. Children and Grief
  9. Child Sexual Abuse
  10. Teen Suicide
  11. The Child with Autism
  12. Children Who Steal
  13. Children and TV Violence
  14. Children and Family Moves
  15. The Adopted Child
  16. Children with Learning Disabilities
  17. Children of Alcoholics
  18. Bedwetting
  19. The Child with a Long-Term Illness
  20. Making Day Care a Good Experience
  21. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part I: How Medications Are Used
  22. Normality
  23. Mental Retardation
  24. Know When to Seek Help for Your Child
  25. Who can be contacted to seek Help for Your Child
  26. Know Your Health Insurance Benefits
  27. Stepfamily Problems
  28. Responding to Child Sexual Abuse
  29. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part II: Types of Medications
  30. Children and AIDS
  31. When Children Have Children
  32. 11 Questions to Ask Before Psychiatric Hospital Treatment of Children and Adolescents
  33. Conduct Disorders
  34. Children's Sleep Problems
  35. Tic Disorders
  36. Helping Children After a Disaster
  37. Children and Firearms
  38. Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness) in Teens
  39. Children of Parents with Mental Illness
  40. The Influence of Music and Music Videos
  41. Substance Abuse Treatment for Children and Adolescents: Questions to Ask
  42. The Continuum of Care
  43. Discipline
  44. Children and Lying
  45. Lead Exposure
  46. Home Alone Children
  47. The Anxious Child
  48. Problems with Soiling and Bowel Control
  49. Schizophrenia in Children
  50. Panic Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  51. Psychiatric Medications for Children and Adolescents Part III: Questions to Ask
  52. Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation
  53. What is Psychotherapy For Children and Adolescents?
  54. Children and Watching TV
  55. Understanding Violent Behavior in Children & Adolescents
  56. Parenting: Preparing for Adolescence
  57. Normal Adolescent Development - Middle School and Early High School Years
  58. Normal Adolescent Development - Late High School Years and Beyond
  59. Children Online
  60. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  61. Children and Sports
  62. Talking to Your Kids About Sex
  63. Gay And Lesbian Adolescents
  64. Foster Care
  65. Children's Threats: When are they serious? 
  66. Helping Teenagers with Stress
  67. Children and The News
  68. Tobacco and Kids
  69. Asperger's Disorder
  70. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  71. Multiracial Children
  72. Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  73. Self-Injury in Adolescents
  74. Advocating for Your Child
  75. Pets and Children
  76. Helping Your Teen Become a Safe Driver
  77. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
  78. When a Pet Dies
  79. Obesity in Children and Teens
  80. Bullying #80
DISCIPLINE Children and Teens

Helping a child to behave in an acceptable manner is a necessary part of raising the child well. Discipline varies at different ages. There is no one right way to raise children, but child and adolescent psychiatrists offer the following general guidelines:

Children generally want to please their parents. Wise parents can in their disciplining activities use children's desire to please.

    When parents show joy and approval for behavior that please them, this reinforces good behavior in the child. When parents show disapproval of dangerous or unpleasant behaviors at the early stages, they are more likely to be successful when the child is older.

The way the parent corrects a child or adolescent for misbehavior should make sense to the youngster, and not be too strict that the child or adolescent cannot later feel the parent's love and good intentions.

    Children and adolescents can and do anger parents, and parents need good self-control when they are angry. Although a loud "no" may get the attention of a toddler heading for a street full of traffic, it does not quiet a crying baby. For older children, there should be clear expectations, agreed upon by both parents and clearly told to the child or adolescent.

In our mixed society, where cultures and parenting styles are varied, different families expect different behaviors from their children.

    One child may be allowed to come home at any time, while another child may have a strict curfew. When parents and children disagree about rules, an honest exchange of ideas may help them learn from each other. However, parents must be responsible for setting the family's rules and values.

Keeping unwanted behavior from happening in the first place is easier than stopping it later.

    It is better to put breakable or treasured objects out of the reach of toddlers than to punish them for breaking them. Parents should encourage curiosity but should direct it into activities like playing with puzzles, learning to use paints or reading a book.

Changing a child's unwanted behaviors can help the child have the self-control needed to become responsible and considerate of others.

    Self-control does not happen automatically or suddenly. Infants and toddlers need parental guidance and support to begin the process of learning self-control. Self-control usually begins to show by age six. With parents guiding the process, self-control increases throughout the school years. Teenage experimentation and rebellion may occur, but most youngsters pass through this period and become responsible adults--especially if they had good early training.

Families pass methods of discipline and what is expected of children from generation to generation.

When discipline attempts are not successful, it is often helpful for someone outside the family to make useful suggestions on raising a child. Professionals trained in child growth and behavior can give information on the way children think and develop. They can also suggest different approaches to changing unwanted behavior. The patience of parents, and help from caring professionals, when necessary, will help smooth the way for children to learn and enjoy what society expects of them and what they can expect from themselves.


Article #43 Updated 11/95

All Family Resources wishes to thank the (AACAP) for giving us permission to use this article.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) represents over 6,900 child and adolescent psychiatrists who are physicians with at least five years of additional training beyond medical school in general (adult) and child and adolescent psychiatry.

Facts for Families is developed and distributed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). Facts sheets may be reproduced for personal or educational use without written permission, but cannot be included in material presented for sale. To order full sets of FFF, contact Public Information, 1.800.333.7636.  Free distribution of individual Facts sheets is a public service of the AACAP Special Friends of Children Fund. Please make a tax deductible contribution to the AACAP Special Friends of Children Fund and support this important public outreach. (AACAP, Special Friends of Children Fund, P.O. Box 96106, Washington, D.C. 20090).
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