Disciplining your child is one of the most important things you’ll do as a parent. It's also one of the hardest.
The Canadian Paediatric Society strongly discourages the use of physical punishment on children, including spanking. Physical punishment can physically and emotionally hurt your child. There are other, more effective ways to discipline children.
Positive discipline teaches and guides children and is part of a comforting family environment. It helps your child grow up to be a happy, caring person who has:
How you discipline your child will depend on her age, stage of development, personality and many other factors, but here are some basic ideas to help guide you.
How do I set the stage for good behaviour?
Good behaviour isn’t just luck—there is a lot that you can do to foster it. It may help to know what affects your child’s behaviour.
External forces are things that families have some control over:
Physical space: A calm, comfortable and organized space will foster good behaviour.
Materials: Toys that are right for your child’s age will excite and entertain him. These do not need to be commercially bought toys and can often be found all around you.
Routine: Organize your day with your child so he knows what to expect. You can include planned and unplanned activities as well as quiet time and physical activities. Try to spend part of each day playing outside.
Sleep: Naps are important for young children and should be part of your routine. As much as possible, keep bedtimes and wake times the same and make sure your child is getting enough nighttime sleep.
Food: A hungry child can be a cranky child. Keep regular mealtimes and offer healthy snacks between meals.
Peers: How your child’s friends treat him will affect his behaviour. Get to know your child’s friends. When friends come to visit, explain your house rules and expect the same respectful and cooperative behaviour from everyone.
Television and other media: Limit your child’s screen time. While high quality children’s shows may promote positive behaviour, violent shows and games may make your child feel anxious and even encourage aggressive behaviour in some children.
Internal forces are things you can’t control. Your child has her own temperament (a built-in style of behaviour) that affects how she reacts to events and people in her world. She also has a unique personality that you will come to understand over time. You can support your child by:
Respecting your child’s feelings and thoughts.
Respecting your child’s ideas and contributions.
Being honest with your child.
Listening when your child talks.
How does developmental stage affect my child’s behaviour?
Your child’s behaviour has a lot to do with his age and stage—what he can do, what he is learning, how he understands and experiences the world around him. If you know what to expect as he grows, you can discipline him in a way he can understand.
What parents can do
Under 1 year of age
Cries to make needs known.
Gets into everything.
Learns by touch, taste, smell, sight and sound.
Let your baby learn to self-soothe. Comforting your baby when he is sick, hurt or upset―rather than ignoring or brushing off the feeling―will help him learn how to do this.
Say no when your baby does something you don’t want him to, like biting you.
Don’t use techniques such as time-out or consequences.
1 to 2 years
Is starting to test limits as she explores her independence.