Effective Discipline

Effective Discipline covers all methods used to guide and teach children self-control and socially acceptable behaviour. Discipline does not inflict physical or psychological harm to a child. Discipline is a necessary part of the parent/child relationship.


  • involves the process of education, guidance and learning to help children develop self-control
  • is characterized by mutual respect and trust
  • includes a belief that the child will be willing to change because of respect or with greater understanding
  • has as its goal the development of internal controls that helps the child relate to others in a positive and responsible way
  • can be achieved without physical punishment
  • should be consistent with the age and stage of the child’s development

Good disciplinary practices include:  positive reinforcement, praise, modelling, structure and routine, setting and maintaining limits, realistic expectations, follow through, verbal and non-verbal cues, time outs, logical consequences such as “no television” and problem-solving.

Good disciplinary practices DO NOT include: corporal punishment which combines control, force and physical pain to get children to behave in acceptable ways such as punching, kicking, shaking, harsh spanking or slapping, throwing objects that can injure a child, threatening a child with physical harm, placing a child in a locked or confined space, and/or depriving a child of basic needs.

There is a significant risk of injury to the child when a parent uses corporal punishment; it can cause physical harm, permanent physical disabilities and even death. There is a risk of emotional problems developing in the future. Many treated this way grow up to become abusive to their children and their family as an adult.

SMFC is opposed to the use of corporal punishment in any form as a means of disciplining or punishing children. We promote effective parenting and child rearing practices as alternatives to corporal punishment. Use of corporal punishment may result in a referral to and investigation by SMFC.