The most important finding of this study was that harsh discipline tactics don’t lead to healthy, well-behaved children.
This was a longitudinal study (meaning that the same groups of kids were studied at several different time points) of Australian children in which 5107 infants (3-19 months) were monitored several times up until age 4-5 years and 4983 preschoolers (4-5-year-olds) were monitored up until age 8-9 years. Between enrollment in the study and the final assessment, 86% and 87% of the infants and preschoolers, respectively, remained in the study. That makes this a relatively large study with a good retention rate.
I’ve been thinking about discipline lately. I know the time is coming when we’ll have to set some boundaries for BabyC. Given how quickly these last 9 months have flown by, I know that time is coming soon – or is it here already? I want to be prepared, but just the word “discipline,” makes panic rise up in my heart.
An infant’s needs are straight-forward enough: feed, diaper, help to sleep (OK, that one is tough), rinse, repeat, over and over. Luckily, it doesn’t take much thought to meet a young infant’s needs, which is good, because we were too sleep-deprived to think much during that time. But as BabyC gets older, she is more aware of how we react to events. She notices the expressions on our faces and the emotions in our voices. She is observing, processing, and remembering the new things that she is learning every day. Her little personality is starting to shine, and it is a reflection of both the way her brain is wired and of her time spent with us, her parents. She is reaching an age at which she will need some guidance about how to behave in the world and help to understand what is appropriate and what is not, not to mention what is safe and what is not. It is up to us to provide her with that guidance, and that scares the hell out of me. Read more