American Psychological Association

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Positive Discipline by Age

Attention! The discipline methods you use with your children should be according to their ages and stages of development

Children from birth to 3 years old

  • Always supervise your children
  • Stop difficult behavior with a clear and firm voice.
  • Distract your children with other things.

Children from 3 to 8 years old

  • Explain repeatedly your rules and the expected behaviors.
  • Give one command at a time; use clear voice and keep it short.
  • Ignore behaviors that are not dangerous.
  • Distract children with something different.
  • Use “when” and “then” not as a threat.
  • Use time-out to calm children down: Use 1 minute for each year of age.
  • Ignore the children in time-out.
  • Use natural and logical consequences to teach about consequences of behaviors. Use them immediately after the misbehavior.


1. A child breaks a toy and doesn’t get another one.

2. A child colors the wall and has to clean it up.

  • Take away some privileges according to the children’s ages.
    For example:

    Age 3: Fights repeatedly in the sandbox. Stops going to the playground.
    Age 4: Drops sister’s doll in the toilet. Can’t play with sister’s toys.
    Age 5: Sits on older brother. No stories at bedtime.
    Age 6: Rips up a sibling’s puzzle. Stays indoors while sibling plays outside.
    Age 7: Talks back to parents. Doesn’t watch favorite TV show.