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Effective Discipline

Guide for Growth 

API's Eight Principles of Parenting are recommended companion readings as the foundation and context for all of our research-based resources.


What are you learning? How can I support you in a safe and appropriate way?


Children learn by exploring their world and while they do, they have no concept of what's appropriate and what isn't. It's our job to help them learn that part and keep them safe while they do.

We most often think of this activity as "discipline," but that gives us an image from the start of the conflict. We expect to do "battle" and to need "strategies" and "tactics." But we're the great grown-ups with the small, immature children who depend on us to "socialize" them into our great world.


If our work here is to "socialize" our small children who are ignorant of the world, our job is not in opposition to them, but to find the right ways to "bring them along."


If we learn to notice our own reactions, irritations, concerns or fears related to child activities and use them as cues, we can learn to react less and guide for growth more.  When we have a different understanding of our children's learning goals and needs, we can respond in ways that support their learning.


For example, young children who love throwing objects are learning important lessons in physics cause and effect. When they throw things at others or throw breakable objects, what can we offer them to throw instead?

Providing appropriate choices isn't always our first instinct nor is it always easy or possible, but learning to think about our children as conducting trials and experiments can help us keep our child's natural learning engaged in more effective ways. 

It takes time, but gradually children learn, with our support, to adjust their behavior from unskilled to skilled, increasingly on their own. Reacting and using more punitive measures blocks their physics education and focuses them instead on learning to avoid punishment. Not the lessons we intend. 


Mistakes are a part of any learning process - for parents as well as children - so be prepared to "fail better next time." Track and celebrate progress and expect it to take time and occasionally go backwards. That's how learning happens.


Free Resources from the API Library 


Articles from API Publications