Parenting best practices (Part 2): Discipline

Today my friends Duane and Barb Scarborough are going to discuss effective discipline in the home.

And with no further ado… Duane and Barbara


parent disciplining childIt is vitally important for parents to be on the same page and put up a united front when it comes to discipline. The object of discipline is to help your child know what behavior is unacceptable. There is a standard of right and wrong. The Bible should be the basis for the major principles. To a certain degree what is considered acceptable behavior will vary by household depending on the standards of parents. There needs to be agreement between the parents on what those acceptable standards are for their home and how discipline will be carried out. When one parent disciplines a child the other should back them up and not contradict them. On rare occasions if the other parent has information that should change the course of discipline then the parents should discuss it and come to agreement. This can take place in the child’s hearing if it is done as an honest respectful discussion between the two without fighting and arguing. At times you may need to apologize to your child for actions you took or decisions you made because you didn’t properly understand a situation. They will respect your honestly with them and trust you more in the future to have their best interests at heart.

Discipline should be sufficient to get the child’s attention and create a change of mind, and the intention of the child about the action or attitude that brought on the discipline. The type of punishment or discipline it takes to accomplish that change of mind will be different for different children.

Don’t discipline when you are in a state of rage or desperation (out of control) or the resulting discipline may be too harsh and cause resentment and bitterness. Try to discipline before the situation escalates so far that you lose control of your emotions. When properly trained, kids know when they have been naughty and have a sense of what is fair though they may not admit it not at the time.

We tried to make sure we only disciplined acts of willful disobedience and not mistakes, accidents, ignorance, or purely because an action caused us embarrassment. After the discipline we also had our kids explain to us what they had done wrong and tell us they were sorry. That way we knew that they knew the reason for the punishment. This was followed by a hug and an “I love you” from mom or dad.

Control is essential. Parents should be in control of themselves as well as their kids. Establish your control and authority early in the child’s life. You don’t have to be harsh or cruel but firm and consistent. The objective is to have to discipline as little as possible. Kids don’t like to be nagged and won’t respond any better to it than we do. As much as possible try to let your child know what is acceptable behavior in a situation before they experience it.

Control and consistency have positive benefits:

  • They let the child know what behavior is expected and appropriate
  • The child knows what the risks are should they choose to disobey.
  • Parents are not as likely to become exasperated at child’s behavior or failure to listen and act out of anger toward the child in a way they will regret. This is important because it could have two possible affects: 1) There is a possibility of harming the child, 2) It makes the child realize they can frazzle the parents enough so they will lose control-this gives the control to the child and may encourage them to seek attention in this way.
  • The child will know what to expect and not live in fear of the unknown. How will mom and dad respond this time? This could cause the child to be stressed and guarded and not as likely to be comfortable enough to share problems, concerns, and hurts later in life.
  • They allow all parties to relax and enjoy being together.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about creating an environment of love and acceptance in your home.

(Paul talking) Hey guys, what are you thinking about this stuff? Do you have any parenting best practices to share in the area of discipline?

8 thoughts on “Parenting best practices (Part 2): Discipline

  1. The concepts discussed in this post seem solid, but I find the lack of specific details troublesome. Concepts without specific solutions can be dangerous, especially for parents who are at their wits end.

    Too much harm can be inflicted by parents who hit (spank), and yell at their children. I just did a 3-part interview with a doctor who specializes in neuroscience and the brain. Some of the discipline styles of previous generations (and unfortunately our generation) cause serious emotional problems, as well as long-term neurological problems in the brain. I’ve also written a series of blogs about hitting and yelling at kids. These are serious issues that parents need to know about.

    To me, reading just the one post, I feel there’s a vagueness that stops the information from being helpful. And the potential for harm (IE: parents who physically or emotionally abuse their kids, calling it “discipline”) is not addressed.

    That being said, I’d love to hear what the authors have to say…



  2. Joey,
    The object of our discipline was to change the child’s attitute not beat them into submission. We usually used things such as sitting in a corner or taking away an activity or priviledge. We spanked only rarely when other things didn’t work. It took one firm swat on the bottom for our oldest, but about three for our second ( she was more determined). I am not sure if I ever spanked our youngest but probably did once or twice with a one swatter. The threat was enough to convince her. I don’t recall having to spank our oldest over four times and that would have been between the ages of about 2-6. (She may remember differently.) After that age other forms seemed sufficient. I guess our girls were pretty easy. We established our authority early. Each child is different and you have to find something that gets their attention and works for each one. We did raise our voice (yell) sometimes to get their attention, but constant yelling and nagging causes kids to accomodate and not take it seriously. It usually frustrates the parent more than having the desired affect on the child. Persistent belittling yelling is very harmful to their self esteem. I really don’t consider myself an authority here. Sounds like you have done a great deal of research. Use what works best for you.

  3. nice article Paul..
    I totally agree with the way you teach discipline to your child, punishment is not because we were angry, but because we love our child.. and discipline will not work if we are not do the same way.. we try first and our child will follow..

  4. Thanks for the response, Duane.

    Yes, yelling is very harmful to children. But it goes beyond damaging self esteem. It physically alters their brain development in a negative way. It also causes emotional damage (it is emotional abuse) that goes beyond self esteem.

    As far as spanking, I don’t agree with it. It is a violent act. Period. “Establishing authority,” and having children feel “threatened” with physical attack IS NO WAY to instill a sense of safety, not to mention trust. Just because it was “the way” of past generations, does not make it right. Should you be spanked when you act in a way that is unwanted by another adult? Should God spank you when you’re bad? Did Jesus spank those who chose to oppress him?

    There are other ways to promote more positive behavior in our children.

    Prison is for authority. I don’t care how many times you beat on a guy who’s hurt or killed another. But the home is for learning, nurturing and empowering.

    If you are interested in a more in-depth exploration of this topic, please read: Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit (



  5. I think there’s a real step forward in the parent / child relationship when the parent stops seeing discipline as something that comes up when the parent is unhappy with something the child has done.

    There’s a difference between discipline and punishment.

    Discipline teaches and guides, punishment doesn’t.

    I’m with you, Joey. Spanking, slapping or beating a child serves to vent an adults anger not to teach a child what they should have done differently.

  6. I think Duane and Barb are right on the mark according to the experience I’ve had with my three kids the last 7 years.

    I believe spanking is an effective training tool if done correctly without being used as an emotional release or vengeance and in appropriate situations. I believe that parents need to be self controlled in the process. I believe it can be done while preserving the dignity and safety of the child. I believe it is time consuming to do correctly and should be avoided while emotions run high. I wish there was more instruction available to do it correctly. But that’s a post in itself.

    Aside from the spanking issue, I believe that consequences need to be given for inappropriate behavior–time outs, loss of privileges, etc. And the consequences need to suck for the kids, to be effective. Sometimes consequences suck for both kids and parents(having to leave a party or not go on a fun outing) and many time parents aren’t willing to be inconvenienced. I believe yelling shows a lack of self-control of the parent–I know, because I am a yeller who tries not to be. I have apologized to and received forgiveness from my kids many times. My kids respond better if I whisper in their ear and have their full attention rather than scream at them in the store. My kids need to know they are required to obey BEFORE I lose it the first time they are told. I believe if a child can obey on the count of 3, they can obey on the count of 1. I believe discipline takes an amazing amount of time and consistency to be effective. I believe we will all fail from time to time but we should keep trying anyway.

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