Discipline in the Preschool Years

By Stephanie Sweat

“Too many parents in this country are unwilling to discipline their children.  They demand too little in the way of good conduct and don’t hold kids accountable for bad behavior.  They’ve been convinced by mental health professionals and early childhood development experts that children need to feel good about themselves above all.  Building self-esteem has taken the place of forming good character.

Some moms and dads have come to believe that it is their duty to erase frustration, disappointment, and boredom from their children’s lives, and help them be happy at all times.  Others feel guilty because neither parent is around for most of the day.  They don’t want to spoil what little time they have together by punishing when kids misbehave.  They fear that discipline may be misunderstood as withholding affection.  Embarrassed about their own authority, they act like they are not sure how to accept the responsibility of being an adult in charge of a child – as if they’re more comfortable being a pal than a parent.

We should not be surprised if these parents’ children grow into students who don’t want assignments that call for hard work, who have to be entertained as they are educated, and who complain when they are asked to meet high standards.

If you do not discipline your child in the early years, you are inculcating some awful habits attitudes, and expectations that are likely to carry into the school years and beyond.  You are denying your child a critical part of a good education.  If you want him to turn into a good student and a morally strong person, you cannot be reluctant to correct bad conduct.  A child’s self-esteem is far more resilient than many parents think and many experts imply.  In the long run, a child’s self-respect will be greater if he has developed a solid sense of self-control.”


Taken from, The Educated Child,, by William J. Bennett, former Secretary of Education.