National Child Abuse Prevention Month:
Utilizing Healthy Discipline to Support Your Child’s Development

By: Ashley Brugger, Tuesday’s Child Intern

Knowing how and when to discipline your child can be a difficult task. Before discipline should take place, it is important to remember to be reinforcing your child’s positive behaviors, as this teaches your child the proper way to act. It can be nearly impossible to notice every good behavior that your child exhibits. It often happens that we only notice, and respond to, their problematic behaviors. Thus, it is important to remember to give attention to your child’s positive behaviors.

When discipline is necessary, however, there are four important things to remember: to be consistent, to be immediate, to not over-react to the situation, and to not be overly verbose.

Physical discipline should be avoided at all costs. This type of discipline has been found to cause children to not only avoid their parent, but also to model the aggressive behaviors that the parent has expressed.

For younger children, two possible responses to a child’s bad behavior are differential attention and interruptions.

Differential attention involves paying attention to and praising your child when they portray positive behaviors, and taking away all attention from the child when they portray problematic behaviors. This practice ensures that only the positive behaviors a child exhibits will be reinforced.

If a child’s behavior becomes disruptive, dangerous, or harmful a child may need to have an interruption. This involves directly stopping the child from the problematic behavior in which they are engaging, while at the same time explaining the proper way to act.  Interruptions ensure that not only are dangerous behaviors stopped, but that the child also learns how they should behave in such situations.

Disciplining your child can be an extremely daunting task. If you remember to be consistent, immediate, to not over-react, and to not be overly verbose you will be well prepared to aid in your child’s development through healthy discipline practices.

Utilizing Healthy Discipline