Childrearing

Yet Another Reason To Stay On Top Of Disciplining Our Kids

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shutterstock_148526975__1376142142_142.196.167.223A new study links early discipline to reduced teen drug and alcohol use. Now we have even more reasons to stick to those time-outs.

It was so much easier when my child was an infant. I didn’t realize it at the time – what with the sleepless nights and general new-mom paranoia – but before my child could demand things and go his own way, parenting was pretty much a cinch. Now, not so much. Disciplining young children is not easy, but it is very, very necessary.

In addition to making sure you don’t unleash an unruly jerk into the world, early discipline may make for healthier decisions all around. A study in the British Journal of Psychiatry of 172 boys who showed disruptive behavior in kindergarten concluded that children who are disciplined early are less likely to use drugs and alcohol as teenagers.

A group of 46 boys took part in a two-year intervention program to help teach self-control and reduce impulsive behavior. Their parents were taught to recognize problem behaviors and “set clear goals and reinforce appropriate behaviors.” A second group of 84 boys were observed intensively at home and school, and were visited in their homes by researchers. A third group of 42 boys received no intervention and acted as the control group.

All 172 boys in the study were followed until age 17 “in order to assess their use of alcohol and drugs.” The boys in the two-year program whose parents were taught to recognize and correct bad behavior “had lower levels of drug and alcohol use from their early teens until they completed high school than the boys in the other two groups,” according to the study .

“Our study shows that a two-year intervention aimed at key risk factors in disruptive kindergarten boys from low socioeconomic environments can effectively reduce substance use behaviors in adolescence — not only in early adolescence but up to the end of high school, eight years post-intervention,” study author Natalie Castellanos-Ryan, of the University of Montreal, said in a university news release.

Yet another study that proves that children respond well to discipline. It’s really hard to stick to it sometimes – no one likes to see their kids miserable. But studies like these remind us how important it is to be the parent – to set boundaries and correct behaviors early.

(photo: bbevren/ Shutterstock)