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Growing Toward Self Discipline

Jinny Hopp, Human Development Specialist, Jasper County, University of Missouri Extension


A formula that answers all of the parenting questions about child discipline does not exist. Children are unique and so are their families. As a result, a discipline strategy that might work with one child may not work with another.

That is one reason why family specialists continually remind parents and caregivers that positive guidance and discipline are crucial to promoting a child's self-control, teaching responsibility and helping children make thoughtful choices.

The more effective caregivers are at encouraging appropriate child behavior, the less time and effort adults will spend correcting children's misbehavior. Every adult who cares for children has a responsibility to guide, correct and socialize children toward appropriate behaviors.

Many family specialists agree that using physical force, threats and put-downs can interfere with a child's healthy development. For example, there is evidence that physical punishment has negative effects on children.

Effective guidance and discipline focuses on the development of the child while preserving the child's self-esteem and dignity. Actions that insult or belittle can cause children to view their parents and others negatively, which can inhibit learning and teach the child to be unkind to others. However, actions that acknowledge the child’s efforts and progress, no matter how slow or small, are likely to encourage healthy development.

Teaching children self-discipline is a demanding task. It requires patience, thoughtful attention, cooperation and a good understanding of the child. It also requires knowledge of one's own strengths and struggles with disciplinary issues.

Parenting and childcare will always be challenging, no matter how well prepared you are. However, helping your children achieve self-discipline is worth your effort. It is a major foundation for life-long personal and social development.

For more information, see:
Guiding Children's Behavior
Is spanking ever a good idea?
What are some alternatives to spanking?
GH6119 - Positive Discipline and Child Guidance



Gershoff, E. T. (2002). Corporal punishment by parents and associated child behaviors and experiences: A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 539-579.


Last Updated 05/05/2009









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