A longitudinal study of parental discipline of young children

South Med J. 2007 May;100(5):472-7. doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e318038fb1c.


Objective: To determine how discipline practices changed over time for young children.

Methods: A cohort of parents with young children were interviewed in clinic about a broad array of disciplinary practices at two points in time.

Results: A total of 182 parents were interviewed at Time 1, and 94 were interviewed at Time 1 and 2. Mean age of the child was 16.2 months at Time 1 and 35.8 months at Time 2. Monitoring, verbal communication, and distracting were the most common types of discipline when the children were one year old. Corporal punishment (P < 0.05), verbal communication (P < 0.001), timeout (< 0.0001), removing privileges (< 0.0001), negative demeanor (< 0.0001), and sternness (< 0.0001) increased significantly from Time 1 to Time 2. Distracting (< 0.001) decreased significantly and positive demeanor also decreased.

Conclusions: Most discipline practices increased in frequency over the 20 months of this study. The increase in parental negative demeanor seems particularly important and worthy of further study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anger
  • Child Rearing*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Verbal Behavior