Effective discipline has three components:

  1. Providing a positive, supportive and loving relationship  

  2. Using positive reinforcement   

  3. When punishment is necessary, using time-outs and other alternatives to spanking or physical punishment.

General Parenting Tips    ABCs of Raising Safe and Healthy Kids

  • Remember to keep the rules simple

  • After you set the rules, be consistent and enforce them

  • Be a good role model because children learn by your example

  • Show that you can deal with frustration and anger without violence

  • Use time outs so a child can learn that they've misbehaved 

  • Reward good behavior instead of always punishing for bad behavior

Time-outs and other nonphysical forms of discipline are effective because children learn the consequences of breaking the rules. Address bad behavior in older children by removing valued privileges temporarily.

A warm, loving environment is the best way for parents to develop a positive relationship with and good behavior from their child.

It's normal for every child to misbehave now and then. When children test parents' limits the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents should use methods other then spanking to discipline their children.

Spanking has negative consequences and is no more effective than other forms of discipline. In fact, there's often a gray area between when spanking ends and child abuse begins.

Many parents may think they can remain calm when they spank their children. However, in a 1996 survey, 44 percent of surveyed parents said they had used corporal punishment but half of those said they were angry when they punished their children. And, approximately 85 percent said they felt moderate to high anger, remorse and agitation while punishing their children.

If the spanking is spontaneous, parents should later explain calmly why they did it, the specific behavior that provoked it, and how angry they felt. They might apologize to their child for their loss of control, because that usually helps the youngster understand and accept the spanking.


 Anything you do to support kids and parents can help reduce the stress that often leads to abuse and neglect.

Be a friend to a parent you know. Ask how their children are doing. Draw on your own experiences to provide reassurance and support. If a parent seems to be struggling, offer to baby-sit or run errands, or just lend a friendly ear. Show you understand.

Be a friend to a child you know. Remember their names. Smile when you talk with them. Ask them about their day at school. Send them a card in the mail. Show you care.

Talk to your neighbors about looking out for one another's children. Encourage a supportive spirit among parents in your apartment building or on your block. Show that you are involved.

Give your used clothing, furniture and toys for use by another family. This can help relieve the stress of financial burdens that parents sometimes take out on their kids.

Volunteer your time and money for programs in your community that support children and families, like parent support groups or day care centers.

Child abuse and neglect occur in all segments of our society, but the risk factors are greater in families where parents:

  • Seem to be having economic, housing or personal problems
  • Are isolated from their family or community
  • Have difficulty controlling anger or stress
  • Are dealing with physical or mental health issues
  • Abuse alcohol or drugs
  • Appear uninterested in the care, nourishment or safety of their children


By helping parents who might be struggling with any of these challenges, you reduce the likelihood that their children will be abused or neglected. Reach out to the children, too, and show them that you care.



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