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Publication #FAR0037

Positive Discipline 1

Suzanna Smith2

Figure 1. 
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Sometimes children challenge or test parents and other adults. Sometimes they misbehave to get something, like attention, an object, or peer approval. Children learn right from wrong and what is acceptable and what is not in their family and society through discipline and guidance they get from parents and caregivers.

Child development experts advise that positive discipline works best. Positive discipline helps children learn to control their behavior, protects their self-esteem, and keeps the parent-child relationship strong. With positive discipline, children are on their way to becoming responsible adults. These techniques avoid some of the problems that come with a common form of discipline: spanking.

No one disciplinary technique will work in all situations, so a wise parent learns several options that can be used in different situations. One important way is to show or model how you want a child to behave. Children learn more about how to act from watching adults than any other way. Of course this means that parents will need to monitor their own behavior! For example, they will need to watch their language if they don't want their child to use certain words.

Another approach is to encourage your child. Support the child's work, even if it's not perfect, and value her or his views. A third way is to give attention when children do something you like—in other words, catch your child being good!

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of UF/IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

To listen to the radio broadcast:


Child Welfare League of America Discipline Techniques



This document is FAR0037, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 162. Published February 2008. Revised May 2008. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Suzanna Smith, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences and executive producer, Family Album Radio; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.