How To Raise a Well Behaved Child

Center for Effective Discipline
February 9, 1999

Babies and Toddlers
Babies can be curious. We sometimes have to restrain them to keep them from hurting themselves. They make messes. They can make us anxious and upset. They
don't understand right and wrong and should not be spanked or shaken.

Don't be afraid of spoiling a baby
You can pick up a baby who cries without spoiling
him or her. Babies cry because it is their only way
of telling you that they are tired or hungry or
uncomfortable. Some babies cry more than
others. When a baby is colicky, there is usually
nothing seriously wrong. Colicky babies are
usually healthy babies.

Reward your baby when he or she does something you like
A smile, a hug and soft words tell your baby that you like him or her. Never tell a baby he or she is bad. If you tell the baby he or she is bad, the baby will believe you and will act bad.

Distract your baby if he or she is doing something you don't like or remove him/her from the problem situation
Sing or turn on music to get your toddler's attention when he or she is doing
something you don't like. If you can't get toddler's attention away from
the problem, gently say "no" and take him or her to another room. Remove objects
which a baby or toddler can break or which can hurt him or her.

Help your child establish good sleeping patterns
There is no need to stay in your baby's room until he or she falls asleep.

There is also no need to go to your baby at the first sounds of fussing at night. When your toddler comes into your room at night, comfort him or her.
Then immediately return the child to his or her own bed.

Need a break from taking care of baby or toddler?
Parents and caregivers need to relax and get away from the demands of a baby. Accept offers from family members and friends to take care of your baby or find a reliable sitter. Take time to relax so that you can enjoy your baby when you return.

Most Americans who spank their children do so just as they were spanked by their parents.

Why do we spank?

  • It is quick and easy.
  • It usually stops the behavior for a short time.
  • It makes us less angry and tense.

What does spanking teach children?
It may be teaching them to hit others who are weaker and smaller when they have problems. It may be teaching our children to solve problems with violence.

Do you spank when you are angry?
Injuries can happen to children when parents and caregivers spank children when they are angry.

Do children learn better behavior from spanking?
Children are only likely to stop a behavior when the spanking adult is nearby. It doesn't teach them better behavior.

Here are Some Things to Think About

Will you still be able to spank your child when he or she is a teenager?
Children eventually get too big to spank. How will you discipline your teenager if spanking is the way you usually discipline him or her now?

How does spanking make your child feel?
Spanking often makes children angry. It makes them feel they are bad ?.?.?.

Children learn what they live.
Consider explaining and reasoning to children when they misbehave. They will grow up using words to solve problems instead of hitting.

If you have tried these alternatives to spanking, and feel that you are not succeeding, try the following resources.

  • Faber, Adele and Mazlish, Elaine. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. New York: Avon, 1980.
  • Brazelton, T. Berry M.D., Touchpoints. Addison Wesley, 1992.
  • Kersey, Katharine C., Ed.D. Don't Take It Out On Your Kids! Washington, D.C.: Acropolis Books Ltd., 1990.
  • Wyckoff, Jerry and Unell, Barbara C. Discipline Without Shouting or Spanking. Deephoven, MN: Meadowbrook Books, 1984.

Many of the following agencies offer parenting programs:

  • Churches/Synoagogues
  • Community Counseling
  • YWCA Centers
  • County Offices
    Mental Health Association
    Children Services Board
    Human Services Department
    Board of Health
  • Boards of Education
  • Children's Hospital Guidance Centers
  • Ohio Coalition for Education of Handicapped Children
    (614) 431-1307
  • United Services for Effective Parenting
    (614) 868-8600
  • Community Mental Health Centers
  • Special Education Regional Resource Centers


For more information, contact:
Center for Effective Discipline
155 W. Main Street, Suite 100-B
Columbus, OH 43215

This brochure was partially funded by the Ohio Children's Trust Fund. Contents do not necessarily represent the views of the Ohio Children's Trust Fund Board or the Ohio Department of Human Services. Permission is granted to physicians for duplication of this brochure.