Developed by Mary Gosche, Human Development Specialist, University of Missouri Extension

Relationship to Building Strong Families
The quality of parent-child interactions is an important aspect of family life to focus on when building strong families. One common theme of these interactions is child discipline and guidance. This teaching module provides parents with ideas on how to discipline and guide their children in ways that are positive and healthy for child development and future well-being.

Brief program description
This program presents a perspective toward child discipline and guidance that considers the unique needs of different situations and different ages of children. Four broad concepts will be presented and reviewed: the difference between discipline and punishment; stages of child development and corresponding methods of discipline and guidance; the relationship between parenting behaviors and child outcomes; and positive methods of child discipline and guidance.

Research findings
Parenting behaviors and child outcomes are related in a number of meaningful ways. Beginning with infancy, different types of parenting are related to different developmental outcomes. For example, sensitive, responsive maternal behavior toward infants is associated with healthy and secure mother-infant relationships (Isabella, Belsky, & von Eye, 1989). These same positive relations between parenting behaviors and child functioning continue into the preschool years.

A parentís happy mood, enjoyment of the child, and a relaxed home environment are predictive of a preschoolerís positive health and well-being (Stevenson-Hinde & Shouldice, 1995). Through the school-age years and into adolescence, parenting styles that consider the unique needs of the child, yet place an emphasis on personal responsibility and appropriate levels of encouraging independence, are related to optimal child outcomes (Bornstein, 1995).

Conversely, parenting behaviors that do not take into consideration the needs of the child are reflected in less positive child outcomes. For instance, children who experience insensitive, coercive, and unreasonably demanding parenting often experience lower academic achievement, poor peer relations, and poor self-esteem (Baumrind, 1994). Thus, working towards parenting, discipline and guidance styles that are positive, child-centered, and respectful of childrenís developmental needs, promotes family strengths.

In summary, research indicates that the use of authoritative or inductive methods (firm but supportive, controlling but responsive), are associated with more positive behavioral and cognitive development in the child. Authoritarian or power-assertive methods of physical punishment, deprivation of privileges, and demanding, are associated with less positive outcomes.

Goals and objectives

  • To identify and understand the difference between discipline and punishment; 
  • To recognize personal parenting styles and understand the potential outcomes of different parenting behaviors for childrenís development;
  • To learn positive discipline and guidance strategies that correspond to the unique developmental needs of different aged children;
  • To learn how positive and effective child discipline and guidance represent long term investments in building a strong family unit.

Target audience
Working families with children

If you have any questions or need information, contact:

Kathy Dothage
Building Strong Families Program Coordinator
University of Missouri Extension
1205 University Avenue, Ste. 400
Columbia, MO 65211

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Last updated: 05/16/2017
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