At What Age Should Discipline Begin?

Question: At what age should discipline begin?

Answer: There should be no physical punishment for a child younger than fifteen to eighteen months old, regardless of the circumstance. An infant is incapable of comprehending his or her "offense" 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 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 twelve-month period, which should be characterized by security, affection, and warmth.

The Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide

By Dr. James Dobson

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