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American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states:

Disciplining your child is not easy, but it is part of good parenting. The AAP recommends a 3-step approach for effective discipline:

  1. Create a positive, supporting, and loving relationship with your child. This will help your child want to show good behavior, not out of fear, but to gain your love.
  2. Use positive reinforcement to increase the behavior you want from your child. Catch them being good and praise them.
  3. If you feel discipline is needed, do not spank or use other physical punishments. Try a time out for young children. For older children try taking away favorite privileges such as sports activities or playing with friends for a fair time.

Talk with your child’s provider if you have questions about discipline.

Good touch

We hear a lot about bad touching. Newspapers are filled with stories of sexual abuse. Many parents, especially dads, worry about touching their children for fear it will be misunderstood.

All of us need to be touched. Physical affection helps us feel loved. Hugging and kissing children, in non-sexual ways, is important to their development.

  • Hug your children often. They like to feel close.
  • Let them climb up on your lap. Hold them affectionately.
  • Give them praise by a pat on the back, rubbing their head, or giving them a high five.
  • Play with your child(ren). Loving play can be playing horse, bouncing them on your lap gently, rocking them in your arms, or carrying them on your shoulders.
  • Show affection to your partner in front of your child by holding hands or giving a gentle kiss or a warm hug. They learn how to show affection by seeing it.
  • Remind your children to never keep secrets about touches. Tell them to tell you right away if somebody wants them to keep a touch secret.


Spanking and other forms of corporal punishment are not good parenting techniques. From these, your child learns:

  • To fear
  • To feel angry and powerless
  • That it is okay to hit when you are very angry and stronger than the other person.
  • To make things right with violence

For a short time spanking may stop the bad behavior at that moment. This does not last. Often, children will do the same behavior again because they did not learn what they did wrong.

You want:

  • The behavior change to be permanent even when you are not around
  • Your child to respect and love you
  • Your child to use words, not fists, when they are mad or upset

Spanking teaches the opposite.

Set a good example. When your child misbehaves:

  • Calm them down by staying calm.
  • Give a time out for young children: 1 minute per year of age.
  • Take privileges away for a fair time for older children.
  • Talk to your child calmly about why they were punished.
  • When the punishment is over, invite your child to the family activity. Act as if nothing happened.
  • Catch your child behaving well. Give them positive attention. If you constantly punish them, they will keep doing the bad behavior to get attention.
  • Spanking is not an effective form of discipline. The line between physical abuse and spanking is very fine. Spanking is harmful to children. It may also lead to more aggressive and defiant behaviors from your child.
  • Call Center Telephone: 1-800-777-8442 or 1-319-384-8442
  • Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if your child is in immediate danger.
  • Report suspected abuse/neglect to the Iowa Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-362-2178.

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