Ages 0 to 2
Babies and toddlers are naturally curious, and the best way to discipline a young child is to eliminate temptations. A child who has been hitting, biting, or throwing food, should be told why that behaviour is unacceptable, and try to calm him for a minute or two.
Never spank, hit, or slap a child of any age. Babies and toddlers are especially unlikely to be able to make any connection between their behaviour and the physical punishment. They will only feel the pain of the spanking. Do not forget that children learn by watching you. Make sure that your behaviour is perfect as it has a strong impact on the child’s behaviour.Ages 3 to 5
As your child grows, he begins to understand the connection between actions and consequences. It is important to explain to him what you expect of him before you punish him for a certain behaviour. For instance, the first time your child uses crayons to decorate the living room wall, you should discuss why that is not allowed and what will happen if it's done again. Explain to him that he will have to help keep the walls clean. If he repeats this act again, you should remind him that crayons are for paper only and then enforce the consequences.
It is sometimes easier for parents to ignore occasionally bad behaviour. It is important for you as parents to decide together what the rules are and then be consistent in upholding them. At the same time you become clear on what behaviours will be punished and do not forget to reward good behaviours. Discipline is not just about punishment. Parents need to remember to recognize and reward good behaviour as well.Ages 6 to 8
Timeouts and consequences are effective discipline strategies with this age group. Consistency is important at this stage. The child should be made to believe that you mean what you say. You should try and follow through with what you say. Be careful not to make unrealistic threats of punishment in anger, since not following through could weaken all your threats. Severe punishments may take away your power as a parent. The child may not feel motivated to change his behaviour.Ages 9 to 12
The child in this age group, just as with all ages, can be disciplined with natural consequences. As he matures and requests more independence and responsibility, teaching him to deal with the consequences of his behavior is an effective and appropriate method of discipline. For example, if your child has not done his homework before bedtime and goes to school without it the next day he faces the consequences. He will realize automatically what behaving improperly can mean, and will probably not make those mistakes again. However, if your child does not seem to be learning from natural consequences, you should set up your own consequences to help him modify his behaviour more effectively.Ages 13 and above
By now your child knows what is expected of him and knows that you mean what you say about the consequences of bad behaviour. Don't let down your guard now, as discipline is just as important for teens as it is for younger children. Make sure to set up rules regarding homework, visits by friends, and discuss them beforehand with your teenager so that there will be no misunderstandings. He will probably complain from time to time, even as you grant him greater freedom and responsibility.
When your child does break a rule, taking away privileges may seem to be the best plan of action. It is also important to give a teenager some control over his life. It will help him to respect the decisions you make for him.