For the present and future happiness of the child, and certainly for the well-being of those about him, the child must learn some obedience. The majority of parents know this, but from time to time may be discouraged and doubtful about their program of discipline. The pediatrician can do a great deal to help. In usual pediatric practice he can do, and does, much to preserve and create optimal conditions for discipline. With parents who are doubtful and unsure, he can counsel, guide and support them in establishing and carrying out a consistent program. When difficulties arise, he often can detect the cause and either correct it, or refer the family for more intensive treatment. Since discipline is primarily a family duty and privilege, he should not dictate policy or program, but he can help the parents see the need for obedience and how to achieve it.
Learning obedience does not mean that subjugation to an authority is a final end in itself. On the contrary, it is a means to an end. Good discipline, by helping the child to learn obedience, protects the child from dangers within and without, relieves him of the burden of making decisions for which he is not ready, and allows him to develop independence of thought and action within a secure framework. Good discipline does not have as its primary purpose the comfort of adults, although this is a secondary gain. It does not intend to make conformity a way of lifeand "adjustment" mandatory.
- Copyright © 1960 by the American Academy of Pediatrics