Dealing with Discipline
Parents are expected to teach discipline to their children. This does not refer to punishment for transgressions but teaching appropriate behaviors, including self-control.
Teaching and guiding children are perhaps the greatest concerns parents have in performing adequately as caregivers to growing children. Cultural ideas have evolved about what children need and how best to teach them the behaviors, values, and beliefs adults consider important for their effective future functioning. Advice on how to raise children has proliferated in modern times. Information on a variety of topics pertaining to parenting, child development, and guidance techniques is available in magazines, books, and pamphlets. Such materials tend to be used more frequently by today’s parents than they were in previous generations (Bigner & Yang, 1996; Francis-Connolly, 2003).
Uppermost in many parents’ thinking is the issue of how to provide adequate and appropriate discipline in guiding children’s growth and development (Chamberlain & Patterson, 1995). A survey of child-rearing advice in popular literature between 1950 and 1970 found discipline to be a common topic (Bigner, 1972). Articles during this period also emphasized: (1) helping children gain self-control through psychological means rather than through physical punishment, (2) using positive reinforcement to achieve desired results in children’s behavior, and (3) using a variety of strategies and methods for child training. Another survey of popular literature articles appearing between 1972 and 1990 also found that the topic of discipline and socialization of children received a sizable degree of writers’ attention (Bigner & Yang, 1996). Articles published during this period reflected the same general themes found in the earlier period surveyed, but also emphasized the emergence of many new ways of working with children that are described in this chapter. Many of the themes discussed during the past 40 years in popular magazine articles appear to be perennial issues with parents, such as how to communicate with children so that they learn how to listen and comply with parental concerns about their behavior.
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