Disciplining is one of the most difficult and important jobs facing any parent. It can be confusing too. Bombarded daily by advice from in-laws, grandparents, friends, teachers, television, newspapers, internet, and magazines, parents find whole aisles full of books on the subject at the local book store or library. Much of this advice is contradictory and bewildering. There is, however, general agreement on certain “basics” of how this crucial task should be approached. We would like to try to boil this down to its essential elements.

The guidelines here incorporate a vast volume of child psychology literature into a simple and concise approach to child discipline. It will work for most, but not all, children and families. It is, however, “easier said then done”. It is far easier for me to write this then it is to put in practice everything I have just stated with my own children. Disciplining is perhaps the most difficult task we have as parents, and no parent is perfect at it. We all have emotions, we all get mad, there are always some times when we want to control our child’s behavior even though what they are doing really does not break a rule, and it is much easier to follow these guidelines when you are in the privacy of your own home then it is in isle 3 of the Stop & Shop.

Luckily children are resilient, they can “take a joke” and most of them will grow up happy, well-adjusted, and well disciplined despite their parents occasional mistakes. Finally, all parents will face situations at times which seem complex and which defy the logic of the above approach. At these times, it is always wise to seek out advice – from family, friends, reading materials, or professionals.