1 minute read


Goals Of Discipline, Foundations For Discipline, Proactive Discipline, Discipline Responses, Conditional Sequence Of Responses

For many parents, the word discipline refers to punishment intended to decrease child misbehavior. In truth, the word is derived from disciplinare, referring to a system of teaching or instruction (Howard 1996). Although few would dispute the value of teaching children, the topic of parental discipline has long been controversial, even among experts. In the leading parenting book of the 1930s, Psychological Care of Infant and Child (1928), John B. Watson argued that mothers should avoid being nurturant with their children. Parental nurturance and common sense made a comeback with Benjamin Spock's Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (1946). Discipline advice has changed from Watson's strict discipline to the permissiveness of the 1950s and 1960s to mixed messages (Forehand and McKinney 1993).

Two complementary perspectives of childrearing and parental discipline have been offered. The first perspective considers the kinds of parental discipline associated with moral thoughts and actions in normally developing children (e.g., Grusec and Kuczysnki 1997). The second perspective has focused on helping parents reduce disruptive behavior in clinically referred children, such as noncompliance, temper tantrums, defiance, and aggression (Briesmeister and Schaefer 1998; Serketich and Dumas 1996). The two perspectives complement each other concerning the goals of discipline, foundations for discipline, and proactive strategies for preventing discipline problems.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaPregnancy & Parenthood