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The Teen Years





Families and Discipline—
Additional Resources

The word "discipline" comes from the word "disciple" which means "a learner." Discipline really is about teaching your children, not punishing them. It's one of the most important, not to mention the hardest, jobs of a parent. Discipline is an ongoing process that begins very early and changes as the child grows and matures.

Remember, children look up to you to teach them right and wrong. Despite their protests, they do need limits. Here are some important points to keep in mind as you think about discipline:

What do you want your child to learn from a situation? Try to look at the long range goal for your child. Children under 3 years old often misbehave because they are tired, hungry or sick. Be patient. Try to figure out what's wrong. Maybe they just need a nap. Often we expect too much from little ones. A two year old may need to be reminded to be gentle with his baby sister. Children also misbehave because they may be testing you. It's a game children love to play.

Act promptly by physically removing a child from a situation if necessary. Resist talking. State the limit, but be brief. You don't need to give a reason (Example "We have to go now" versus "Are you ready to go now?")

Set clear limits and be consistent. Give the child a limited choice (Example "Would you like Cheerios or Rice Krispies?" versus "Do you want to eat now?")

Avoid empty threats and follow through with consequences. (Example: "We'll have to leave now if you can't stop screaming" versus "I'll never take you shopping again.")

Think before you act. Discipline can usually wait a few minutes while you decide what to do. Dangerous or destructive behavior must be stopped immediately, but discipline/teaching works best when everyone is calm.

Reading, Watching and Listening List

Consult your local library to find these resources:

Family Works in Action

A positive climate for self-discipline, starting at birth, includes:

Harmful, negative disciplinary methods that don't teach children include:


Showing children you love them is the first step in discipline.

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