Discipline Techniques

The Doctors dish on how to effectively discipline your child.

Spanking Controversy
A new study found that spanking may have detrimental effects on both behavioral and mental development in children. According to the research, children between the ages 2 and 4 who were spanked had a five-point lower IQ score than those who weren't. The study focused mostly on children who were spanked as 1 year olds.

"I think that's way too young," Dr. Sears says. "They don't even know the difference from right from wrong at that age, let alone why they're getting hit.

"I think [overreacting] is a big problem with parents," Dr. Sears continues. "They get angry when their kids are acting up, and they just go off and hit them. And that's not discipline; that's frustration."

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend spanking as discipline, but rather non-physical forms of punishment.

Model, TV personality and Co-CEO of ModernMom.com, Brooke Burke, says, "We have to learn other disciplinary tactics. [Kids] need discipline. The more disciplinary tactics we give them, the more we teach them, the more structure [children have], the better they are going to behave. But we have to learn that as parents, as well.

Spanking is a controversial style of punishment. But is verbal abuse actually worse for a child?

Temper Tantrums

Uncontrollable screaming and crying. Throwing food around. Tossing objects to the floor. Almost every family struggles with temper tantrums, but not every tantrum is a cause for concern. The traits in toddlers that usually cause an outburst, such as sensitivity, determination and persistence are useful to the child. “These are going to help [a toddler] develop into a very successful adult,” pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says. “We don’t want to crush these characteristics. We just want to try to channel them.

“This kind of behavior is actually a sign of intelligence,” he adds.

Dr. Sears has some tips to help you control your child’s next outburst.

Identify the Trigger

Whether you at the supermarket or on the phone, tantrums can come at the worst times. Keep a tantrum diary, noting what incites your child. Is he or she bored, tired or hungry? Watch for the pre-tantrum signs and intervene before the outburst begins.

Don’t Take it Personally

You are not responsible for the onset of a tantrum or for stopping them. Whether or not an outburst occurs, it is not a reflection on your parenting ability. They are common when a baby begins striving for independence and are a normal sign of development. Tantrums are often due to frustration because children have difficulty communicating or completing a task.

Stay Cool

While outbursts in public areas may be embarrassing, avoid lashing out. Stay in control, calmly take your child to a private place and let him or her blow off steam and settle down. “Choose your battles,” Dr. Sears says. “I got really good at knowing I’m not going to be able to win this battle. If you don’t even fight it, you can’t lose. That’s the most important thing: you can’t give in. Once you start fighting a battle, you can’t give in because they will win every time.

“Once a tantrum gets going, you’ve got to stay calm and relaxed,” he continues. “Don’t throw your own adult tantrum by yelling back, screaming at them as you’re running out of the restaurant.”

Plan Ahead

Make sure your child is rested and fed before going out with them. Involve your child in your chores, such as letting them help you shop for groceries from the seat of the shopping cart. The morning is usually the best time for toddler behavior, because they are more likely to be tired or hungry later in the day.

The Adventures of Dr. Sears PediatricianDr. Jim Sears hits the streets in the second installment of The Doctors' interactivemovie, The Adventures of Dr. Sears, where he faces real-life health challenges, and the audience decides his next move! Check out the original The Adventures of Dr. Sears.

Dr. Sears takes his 6-year-old nephew, Bobby, out for a hot dog, but things quickly head south when Bobby throws a temper tantrum as they wait in a crowded line. Moms and dads, what is the best plan of action?

Audience Choice: Leave — Dr. Sears removes Bobby from the situation.
Web-Exclusive Alternate Ending
Ignore—They stay in line, and Dr. Sears ignores Bobby while he continues to stomp his feet.Web-Exclusive Alternate Ending: Discipline on the spot — See what happens when Dr. Sears scolds Bobby in front of the entire line.