Montana State University

MSU specialist offers advice on discipline

January 28, 2005 -- from MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
BOZEMAN-- Montana State University Extension has released two new fact sheets that will be of particular interest to parents and other caregivers of young children.

"Discipline: A Parent's Guide for Infants and Toddlers" and "Discipline: A Parent's Guide for Preschoolers," by Sandy Bailey, are the first installments in a series of Extension Montguides covering discipline tips for all stages of child development.

Each fact sheet offers concise, practical advice for anyone wondering, for example, if picking up a crying baby too often will spoil the child, or how to balance a preschooler's need for independence and reassurance.

Bailey stresses that discipline is a form of teaching, rather than punishment. Responding to a fussy baby helps the infant learn she can trust adults to care for her needs. Rather than scolding the toddler who spilled his milk trying to pour, teaching him how to help clean up the mess allows him to add a new skill and gain confidence.

The guide for infants and toddlers also provides safety tips for the stage when your baby is on the move. It discusses the benefits of a consistent routine in a child's day and offers other general advice on navigating the early years.

In the guide for preschoolers, Bailey suggests taking a step back to understand misbehavior. Children do not act up just to make parents' lives miserable, she says. There is a reason. Consider whether the child is tired, hungry, scared or hurt and then examine your own situation. Awareness of what else is going on with both you and your child can be a big help in solving a behavior problem.

The fact sheet also talks about positive communication, the value of simplifying a child's choices and using time-outs.

Free copies of these MontGuides and others are available on the web and at county and tribal MSU Extension offices statewide. To download a free copy of "Discipline: A Parent's Guide for Infants and Toddlers" (publication no. MT200412 HR) or "Discipline: A Parent's Guide for Preschoolers" (publication no. MT200413 HR) go to

Contact: Sandy Bailey at (406) 994-6745, or