Recently, the American Academy of Pediatric News published an article from on how to handle a child’s bad behavior. Parents across generations have tried time-outs, reasoning, yelling and even spanking.

The AAP encourages parents to use discipline strategies, not physical or verbal punishments to stop unwanted behaviors in children and teens. Teaching children to recognize and control their behavior is an important job for their caregivers. How these adults respond to a child’s behaviors has lasting effects on their development. It shapes how the child thinks, behaves, feels and interacts with others. It also teaches the child how to behave as an adult.

Discipline teaches children what’s acceptable. When children are taught how to control their behaviors, they learn how to avoid harm. Punishment might work fast to stop bad behavior, but overtime, it’s not effective. Corporal (physical) punishment also doesn’t work. The AAP is against physical punishment in or outside of school.

Fifteen states (including Texas) still allow public schools to use paddles or other means of physical punishment of children. Every year, over 100,000 children are physically punished in school.

Most Americans don’t think schools should use corporal punishment on children. Even schools that can legally use corporal punishment do it less because they don’t find it effective. Studies show it has the opposite effect. Children who are physically or verbally punished are more likely to use negative physical and verbal behavior.

The AAP urges parents to use healthy discipline methods for children and teens.

1. Praise good behavior

2. Be a role model for good behavior

3. Set limits and expectations; teach respect for persons, property and privacy.

4. Ignore bad behavior or redirect your child away from the bad behavior.

For behavior tips by age, visit

If you suspect that your child may have a behavior problem, talk to your health care provider. Counseling or behavioral training can be a great help.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.

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