Knowing your child while he or she is growing is important as you practice parenting. Each child is his or her own little being, and each child will go through developmental stages differently. Effectively providing discipline will be easier if you keep this in mind.

For example, toddlers throw tantrums and refuse to share toys, preschoolers have a hard time sitting still, children who are eight run down the halls, and teenagers say, “You don’t know anything!” Parents can feel frustration with these behaviors that are simply normal for each stage of child development, and sometimes these feelings of frustration can result in parents punishing children for just being children. Punishing children for developmentally expected behaviors will not rush the developmental process. In fact, trying to hurry up the developmental process may slow it down.

It is also true that a child can be wired differently from his or her individual parents. The parent likes to rush, the child likes to dilly-dally; the parent likes to sit still, the child likes to fidget; the parent likes an organized bedroom, the child likes a messy one; or the parent likes peace and quiet, and the child likes loud music. Again, punishment will not change the child’s temperament.

When children get too old for timeouts, parents often resort to such strategies as grounding or taking away the telephone or computer. Usually, the result is simply feelings of resentment and stress, without any teaching of the children or helping them along the path of moral development.

The truth is, we parents may just have some differences from our children, and too often just because we are bigger, we punish children for things that bother us.

When we know our children and understand their developmental stage, we can discipline more effectively. We can sit down and figure out a workable solution for the future rather than imposing a harsh punishment after they “mess up.” Knowing our children means knowing what discipline will work for each one of them. What works for one child may be very different from what works for another.

So, what is realistic for your child at your child’s developmental stage? Discipline and teach within the context of who your child is right now.

More to consider: A common thread . . .

One common thread to remember as you think about disciplining your child is that all children are vulnerable to being frightened by discipline that is too unforgiving, unbending, disapproving, or severe.