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New York, NY 10004

phone: 212-344-1902

fax: 212-344-1923

Discipline and Punishment:
What Parents Need To Know


To discipline is to teach our children a certain behavior that will help them get along in the world.  Through discipline, we teach safety, responsibility, family rules and personal values.

Discipline concentrates on changing behavior rather than finding fault with the child him/herself.

The ultimate goal of discipline is self-control so that the child will behave appropriately even when the caregiver is not present.


Punishment is a penalty paid for a wrong doing.  Its purpose is to decrease the likelihood that bad behavior will occur again.

Types of effective punishments are: loss of privileges, being grounded, timeout and local consequences.

PHYSICAL PUNISHMENT IS NOT EFFECTIVE at helping us teach a child self control.  Physical punishment does not teach a child what to do instead of the misbehavior.

Stress Relievers for Parents

When you feel overwhelmed with stress and need to calm down, here are some tips:

– Breathe deeply or count to ten

– Put your child in a safe area and go outside or to another room for a few minutes.

– Lie on the floor with your feet up on a chair

– Place a cool cloth on your face and think of a peaceful scene

– Stay for five minutes or until you are calm

– Take a walk

– Physical activity can help you remain calm and clear

– STOP! Try to think of what it is that is making you so angry. Is it the children or is it something else? Are you taking your frustration out on them?

– Designate a place, even a chair or a corner as a “time-out” spot for you to go when you feel you may be losing control

– Designate a safe place for your child

– When you have become cool and collected all of your thoughts, let your child know what made you so angry

– Always work off your anger before disciplining your children

Maintain a Positive Relationship With Your Children

– Reward GOOD behavior

– Ignore minor misbehavior

– Involve your children in making a few simple family rules and setting consequences for violating them

– Use alternatives to physical punishment

– Let the child know it is the behavior you dislike, not the child

– Pay attention when your child is being good. This can prevent acting out in negative ways to get attention

– Find out what is causing your child to act out. He/She may want to let you know what is bothering them and they may not know how to do so

Encourage Your Child To Turn To You For Guidance

Effective listening is more than just “not talking.” It takes practice. the following list of listening skills can be used with your children to encourage communication:

– Rephrase your children’s comments to show you understand.

– Watch your children’s face and body language as they speak.

– Give non-verbal support and encouragement.

– Use the right tone of voice for the answer you are giving.

– Use encouraging phrases to show you are interested and to keep the conversation going.

Twelve Alternatives To Lashing Out At Your Kid

– Stop in your tracks.  Step back.  Sit down.

– Take five deep breaths.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Slowly, slowly.

– Count to 10.  Better yet, to 20.  Or say the alphabet out loud.

– Phone a friend.  A relative.  Even the weather.

– Still mad?  Punch a pillow.  Or munch an apple.

– Thumb through a magazine, book, newspaper, photo album.

– Do some sit-ups.

– Pick up a pencil and write down your thoughts.

– Take a hot bath.  Or a cold shower.

– Lie down on the floor, or just put your feet up.

– Listen to the radio or your favorite music.

– For more information about raising children, call the Prevention Center/Parent Helpline at 1-800-342-PIRC (7472).

National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse – New York State
134 South Swan St., Albany, NY  12210

Telephone: 1-581-445-1273

Thanks to the Florida Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse.