Skip to main content

One of the most commonly asked questions of any parent is “what is the best discipline technique that works?” When most of us think about discipline, we think of things like time out, spankings, or ‘grounding,’ however, these techniques do not work and in many cases, can do the opposite of what you are aiming for.

So, what is the best form of discipline? First and foremost, let us get out of the way: discipline does not mean punishment. Discipline is how we instill knowledge into our kids, by helping them to understand the difference between what is right and what is wrong. When you hit your child, you aren’t teaching them anything. Even the American Pediatric Association has come out and stated that corporal punishment is not only ineffective, but can also be quite damaging.

Joan Durrant, Ph.D. is a parenting expert who has introduced Positive Discipline for Everyday Parenting. This framework she has built works to help parents move through more positive parenting by replacing rewards and punishment with emotional regulation, in both parent and child.

Rather than punishing a child for having difficult emotions, this form of discipline works to help both parent and child to understand their emotions and feelings, so problem-solving can be tackled as a team. To do this, parents are supposed to emotionally coach their kids, teaching them how to acknowledge their emotions, so they can understand how they are reacting to them and how they should react to them.

When speaking with Fatherly HQ, Durrant explained that an example of this is when your child is throwing a tantrum. You could ignore your child, you could spank them, or you could put them in the corner. However, none of these addresses the issue. Instead of being punished, you can help your child learn how to understand and regulate their emotions.

Instead of punishing them, Durrant suggests calming down (regulating your own emotions) and then sitting down with your child and showing them how to do the same. Make emotional discussions an open conversation in your home, and make emotional coaching the focal point of your parenting routine.

For those who are new to this approach, Durrant offers a suggestion. “If I want my child to be empathic, then I need to help them understand other people’s feelings, recognizing that it’s a gradual process. I want them to be good problem-solvers as opposed to freaking out when something goes wrong, then I need to help them learn how to do that, I have to be able to know how to do that.”