Discipline Shouldn't Start Too Early

Discipline shouldn't start too early

6 July 2009

At what age should discipline begin?

There should be no physical punishment for a child younger than 15 to 18 months old, regardless of the circumstances.

An infant is incapable of comprehending his or her “offence” or associating it with the resulting consequences. Some parents do not agree and find themselves “swatting” a baby for wiggling while being diapered or for crying in the midnight hours. This is a terrible mistake.

Other parents will shake a child violently when they are frustrated or irritated by the incessant crying. Let me warn those mothers and fathers of the dangers of that punishing response.

Shaking an infant can cause serious neurological damage, which can occur as the brain is slammed against the skull. Do not risk any kind of injury with a baby!

Especially during the first year, a youngster needs to be held, loved, and calmed by a soothing human voice. He should be fed when hungry and kept clean and dry and warm. The foundation for emotional and physical health is laid during this 12-month period, which should be characterised by security, affection, and warmth.

This article was written by Focus on the Family Malaysia (www.family.org.my) and the Questions and Answers are extracted from “Complete Family and Marriage Home Reference Guide” by Dr James Dobson with permission.