Adolescent Behavior and Childhood Indiscipline

Subject: Psychology
Pages: 40
Words: 10070
Reading time:
43 min
Study level: Undergraduate


Lack of discipline among children often results in adolescent delinquency. The research was aimed at discussing the issues revolving around disciplining and making recommendations on how to deal with them. By achieving this objective, disciplining methods used can be more effective hereby translating in fewer cases of adolescent delinquency. The research done was qualitative in nature. Children, parents, teachers, and governments were the core target groups. Three research questions were formulated. To begin with, the study sought to establish the impact of lenient parenting on the behaviour of children. The importance of discipline on a child’s growth process was also assessed. The researcher also sought to assess the different methods used for instilling discipline among children. A literature review study design was used. A total of 75 resources were selected for the research. Leniency among parents was found to be one of the main reasons for indiscipline among children. Discipline was also found to be instrumental in the growth of children. The reason behind this is that it helps persons develop self management skills that would guide their conduct even in the future. Different methods of instilling discipline were identified. However, physical processes were discouraged since they were viewed to encourage the use of violence as a means of resolving disputes. The study would be of great importance to teachers and parents as they embark on disciplining children. The government can also use the study for reference during policy formulation.


Background Information

The word discipline is derived from the Latin term disciplinare. It means ‘to teach’ (Bhattacherjee 2012). To fully understand the concept, a multi-factorial approach to discipline should be taken. Punishment should be used alongside models and rewards to change the behaviour of persons being punished. An attempt to amend the attitude of a person is also important. The expectations should be reasonable and should match the age of the child (Curwin & Mendler 2008). Rewards and punishments enhance the process of disciplining a child. However, consistent limits must be set to safeguard the welfare of the children. Many acceptable alternatives should also be tried. The punishment must match the degree of indiscipline noted (Curwin & Mendler 2008).

It is important for the caregiver to enhance the effectiveness of discipline. To this end, discipline should always be seen to put the welfare of the children first. In this case, a child must be made to understand the need for adhering to the set expectations. According to Joosen et al. (2012), such a child tends to be self-driven. The set standards must also be seen to protect the children from any form of harm (Locke & Prinz 2002). In this case, the children are taught what is safe and that which is not. In the process, they will also avoid activities that would potentially cause harm to their person. Such activities include rebellion at school and home, truancy, as well as promiscuous sexual behaviour (Foster, Jones & The Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group 2006).

Children from authoritative backgrounds tend to be resilient in life. As such, they are in a better position to adapt to stress and other adversities associated with adulthood. They are less likely to resort to violence during such situations (Li et al. 2013). They also tend to be self-motivated. Parents of such children should take credit for their psychological progress. They respect the law and also understand the reason it was established in the first place (Rinaldi & Howe 2012).

Problem Statement

It is possible to establish whether or not an adolescent was disciplined during their childhood based on how they are currently behaving or conducting themselves (Rinaldi & Howe 2012). However, it is important to take into consideration the issue of children with special needs. They often have problems with, among others, anger management. In this case, their behaviour is as a result of their mental and physical anomalies. As such, offering assistance will be more efficient than disciplining them.

Over the years, adolescents have continued to exhibit numerous cases of indiscipline. Issues revolving around sexual perversion, rebellion, and violence have been the most common among this group around the globe (Vaillancourt et al. 2007). The severity of the situation differs from one region to another. For example, in 2007, the American National Centre for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report portraying the situation on the ground. The report indicated that at least 7 percent of teachers in the country had received threats of injury from students in the course of their work. Cases of extreme violence at schools were also reported to be on the rise.

Scholars have proposed various theories touching on children’s development to understand the effects of these factors on the behaviour of individuals. They include Freud’s psychosexual, Piaget’s cognitive development, and Erikson’s psychosocial stage theories. Erikson’s psychosocial stage theory states that a person’s personality develops right from their childhood. They learn through hearing and observing the behaviour of other persons around them. In light of this, poor parenting can lead to violence as children learn how to perpetuate this vice by observing adults (Brown & Munn 2008). It is important to note that parents are the first adults that a child is exposed to in their life. Witnessing violent acts at home can result in indiscipline during adolescence (Taillieu & Brownridge 2013).

Besides poor parenting, individual features among adolescents also come into play. Intelligent quotient (IQ) plays a significant role in determining how one behaves. To this end, it is noted that children with low IQ will tend to be naughtier compared to those with a higher quotient (Millichamp, Martin & Langley 2006). As such, those with low IQ will require to be disciplined right from a tender age. Parents should be in a position to identify such children in advance to mould them from an early age (Li et al. 2013; Pereira et al. 2015). Piaget’s cognitive development stage theory is used to indicate how actions can prompt thoughts. Parents can instil discipline in their children through innate and simulated rewards and punishment. The parenting model will help speed up the learning process. Teachers can also adopt the model successfully in a school environment.

Environmental predisposition can also influence the behaviour of a child. A calm environment will teach them to be composed and humble, while a violent one will encourage them to be vicious (Munro, Niekerk & Seedat 2006). Good parenting should ensure that the children are protected from an environment likely to negatively affect their morals. For example, sexual perversion among adolescents can be attributed to, among others, poor parenting. Most importantly, one should understand that it is normal for children to have sexual desires. According to Freud’s psychosexual stage theory, the manner in which parents deal with their children’s sexual desire has a significant bearing on their personality development. Freud further states that all children tend to be born with selfish urges. As they grow, they realise that not all their whims can become a reality. As such, they learn to appreciate what is realistic and that which is not. With the assistance of their parents, they develop moral values, which help them control these urges. Children have, however, been found to learn sexual violence through observation (Potts 2006).

According to the cultivation theorists, audio- visual media tends to construct reality in the minds of its audience. In most cases, television channels depict sex as an acceptable practice in the society. Young viewers will tend to develop a desire to be identified with the characters portrayed in the media (Millichamp, Martin & Langley 2006). In the USA and other developed nations, a recent study found that 46 percent of high-school-going adolescents have had sexual intercourse at least once in their lifetime (Li et al. 2013).

Research Justification

Parents have the primary role of instilling discipline in their children. However, studies conducted in this field show that there is scarce data showing how lack of control at an early stage could result in adolescent delinquency (Caldarella, Page & Gunter 2012). In the current study, the researcher used data obtained from secondary sources to bridge the existing gap in information touching on the likely impacts of indiscipline during childhood on behaviour at adolescence.

Objectives of the Study

The following are the goals of the research:

  1. Analysing the impacts of lenient parenting on children’s behaviour (Steinberg, Blatt-Eisengart & Cauffman 2006).
  2. The researcher will investigate why discipline is imperative to a child’s growing process.
  3. Assessing the various methods used to instil discipline in children.

Literature Review

Theoretical Perspectives

There are a number of theoretical frameworks that have been used in the past in relation to the issue of childhood indiscipline and how it affects adolescent behaviour. They include Freud’s psychosexual, Piaget’s cognitive development, and Erikson’s psychosocial stage theories. According to the psychosocial theory, one’s personality tends to grow right from childhood (Steinberg, Blatt-Eisengart & Cauffman 2006). As such, it covers developmental, anthropological, and social perspectives of the discipline. In terms of development, the manner in which one is brought up affects their conduct in the future. With regards to matters to do with anthropology, the theory states one’s environment has a major impact on their future behaviour. As such, children should be protected from acts that may corrupt their minds, such as violence at home. Psychosocial theory is also used to view a child’s discipline from a social perspective. The reason behind this is that the way one relates with others depends on their personality. According to the framework, it is important for a kid’s behaviour to be moulded through the use of effective disciplining techniques.

According to Piaget’s cognitive development stage theory, actions promote thought. The framework introduces a social and developmental perspective to the issue of disciplining children and its effect on their behaviour as adults. Children who receive adequate discipline during their childhood will develop the capability to differentiate between what is right and wrong (Steinberg & Monahan 2007). They are also able to develop social skills, which help them while relating with others. Freud’s psychosexual stage theory states that persons are born with selfish desires, such as sexual urges. The theory introduces a developmental and legal perspective to the issue of disciplining children. Through discipline, the selfish desires can be suppressed as one develops. Ineffective disciplining techniques may result in juvenile delinquency and such crimes as rape.

Leniency among Parents and Children Discipline

The level of discipline exhibited by children is always dependent on the efforts made by their parents to instil the same. As already indicated, parents are some of the first adults that a child is exposed to in their life. As such, children always tend to imitate the behaviour of these individuals right from a tender age (Li et al. 2013). The parents are also the adults within the immediate environment of the child. Their proximity puts them in a better position to monitor the discipline of the child. It is important to note that children will always learn from their environment. In most cases, their conduct will match and reflect what they have heard, seen, or experienced (Millichamp, Martin & Langley 2006). Consequently, a parent is in a position to influence the environment within which their child is growing up. For example, they determine where the child is born, raised, and schools. Such decisions should be made by the parents in the best interests of the child despite their preferences. In this case, leniency is viewed as compromising on the future of the child (Steinberg, Blatt-Eisengart & Cauffman 2006). Other decisions often made by parents on behalf of their kids may be in the form of the choice of friends. Today, children want to be associated with fame. The situation is most evident in learning institutions where such incidents as bullying are treated as acts of heroism among fellow schoolmates. Parents should be in a position to keep their children away from such negative influences. They can achieve this by carefully monitoring their children’s company.

Most countries are moving away from the traditional corporal punishment. It is most evident in America and Europe (Saunders 2013). Over the years, it had been identified as one of the most effective ways of instilling discipline in children. Right from a tender age, students could receive the punishment when they were seen to have acted contrary to the set rules and regulations. It was aimed at instilling pain that would discourage a repeat of the action in question (Wang & Xing 2014). Its abolishment has been an unprecedented move towards leniency when it comes to the disciplining of children at their childhood (Wang & Xing 2014; Mackenbach et al. 2014). Prior to the move, parents had the right to choose whatever means was at their disposal to instil discipline among their children. Back in the 1970s, even American parents had come to recognise spanking as an effective tool of punishing wrongdoing. Spanking was either done by an empty hard or by use of an object (Caldarella, Page & Gunter 2012). Everyday household objects were often used. Parents were required to be however careful when making the choice of object to be used. Despite the effectiveness of corporal punishment, instances of abusive spanking of children were often reported (Derringer et al. 2010). In severe cases, it would result in the serious injury, maiming, or even death of the child.

There are numerous challenges associated with corporal punishment. However, its withdrawal led to a significant increase in leniency levels in the late 1970s (Sandstrom 2007). The situation has continued to worsen every passing day. A total of 24 countries across the globe had abolished corporal punishment of children by 2009. Despite the changes, parents in North America, Australia, and Britain had continued to use the mode of punishment. However, this came to an end in 2012 (Saunders 2013). Authoritative parents will tend to instil discipline among their children (Nelson & Coyne 2009). There are various limitations on the level of punishment that is considered acceptable. However, parents are still capable of passing the right skills and knowledge to their kids to enable them distinguish between what is morally acceptable and that which is not (Paulussen-Hoogeboom et al. 2007). On the other hand, parents who are often too generous to their children tend to be more lenient (Davidov, Grusec & Wolfe 2012). They are also less responsive to cases of indiscipline exhibited by their kids. Such kids never get the opportunity to learn societal standards (McCluskey 2014). As a result, their children have higher chances of exhibiting adolescent delinquency compared to those with authoritative caregivers.

Importance of Discipline to Children’s Growing Process

Discipline is an important tool in a child’s development. It plays an essential role in promoting self-management (Arseneault et al. 2005). The reason behind this is that it provides persons with the skills and knowledge to distinguish between right and wrong from a tender age. For this reason, discipline should not be viewed as punishing children (Passini, Pihet & Favez 2014). Instead, it should be welcomed by all members of the society as a tool to improve conduct as well as to promote self-management.

Self-management means the acquisition of the necessary skills to aid one be self-reliant and responsible. The skills are required to promote responsible behaviour. A child who is punished by their parents for stealing will be less likely to repeat the act in future. The same case applies when it comes to the utilisation of the resources at the child’s disposal. A child who is disciplined for wastage of resources, such as food and pocket money, will develop a conservation culture. Parents who are excessively generous to their children and pay little attention to their resource usage will make them develop a wasteful culture (Bostrom 2003). Other skills that a well-disciplined child acquires as they develop include time management and personal grooming (Winkielman, Berridge & Wilbarger 2005). Children will learn how to use their time responsibly from a tender age. A person who learns the value in their childhood will adhere better to timelines in high school, college, as well as in their future workplace (Davis-Kean et al. 2008).

Children have been seen to imitate the behaviour of persons in their immediate environment. In most cases, they learn from parents and teachers. They can also mimic the conduct of their elder siblings (Li et al. 2013). The media has also become an important learning tool for children. Both audio and visual media can influence the behaviour of children. Children living with parents, siblings, or other caregivers who score highly in self-management are also likely to be more responsible in future compared to their peers who have no access to such opportunities (Steinberg & Monahan 2007). The same applies to the child’s favourite television personalities. A child will be more likely to imitate the values exhibited by these persons. For this reason, parents and caregivers should pay more attention to the content that a child is exposed to from the media. The use of rewards and punishment will help in reinforcing socially acceptable conduct (Pfeifer et al. 2011). Giving a reward to a kid after acting in a particular manner will reinforce positive behaviour. Punishment, on the other hand, will discourage a child from repeating an action in future. As such, they will associate acts with rewards and punishment. With time, the child gains the skills and knowledge to distinguish between what is deemed acceptable and unacceptable by the society around them.

Through discipline, children are also taught the value of peaceful coexistence (Jansen, Chioncel & Dekker 2006). It is important to appreciate the fact that we are living in a social world today. Social skills are therefore vital to one’s survival. Disciplining children enable them to acquire skills, such as courtesy, love and respect for others. Such skills are essential throughout the life of an individual. As such, they will be in a position to relate well with fellow students and even teachers (Segalowitz et al. 2012). In future, such an individual is expected to have a successful career following their ability to relate well with workmates, employer, and clients. When instilled at an early age, discipline will also help a child to develop respect for property. A parent or caregiver can be in a position to develop such values through promoting hard work. A person who is made to work to receive certain rewards at an early age will tend to be ambitious (Derringer et al. 2010). They will be able to appreciate the effort others have put in to reach where they are. The child will also be anxious to accumulate wealth. At the same time, destructive behaviour at adolescence will be avoided.

Discipline has also been seen to promote academic excellence (Qualls 2014). A child’s learning starts at home where parents teach them basic social expectations. Besides home, children spend most of their time in learning institutions. Here, they acquire knowledge and skills aimed at helping them live productive lives in future. A disciplined child will be able to grasp the information conveyed by the teacher. Self-management skills aid such a child to manage school time in a proper manner. Through discipline, one also learns the value of personal sacrifice. For example, authoritative parents will be keen to ensure that school work has been completed successfully (Li et al. 2013). Failure to do so is often met with punishment. As a result, a child will learn to sacrifice play and leisure to study. As part of disciplining a child, good performance should be rewarded to promote it (Doremus-Fitzwater, Varlinskaya & Spear 2010).

Methods of Instilling Discipline in Children

Many methods can be used for the purpose of disciplining children. They can be classified broadly into non-physical, non-punitive and parental nurturance methods (Crawford, Schrock & Woodruff-Borden 2011). Physical punishment is no longer popular among parents following its abolishment in most nations across the globe. Whatever the method adopted, it is important to note that a child’s behaviour is best rectified at an early age. The effectiveness of the methods should also be evaluated for individual children to determine its success in promoting the reception and adoption of the necessary skills and knowledge (Millichamp, Martin & Langley 2006). Effective disciplining of children should not instil shame in the child or parent. It should also not cause guilt on the parent. Instead, effective control and regulation of child behaviour is aimed at bringing parents and their children closer together. It should also encourage trust between the two parties. Prevention strategies are also the best. Parents should seek to prevent detrimental conduct by their kids rather than waiting to rectify it.

The nature of the parent plays a significant role in determining the method of disciplining that is adopted. Parents can be authoritative, authoritarian, or permissive (Steinberg, Blatt-Eisengart & Cauffman 2006). Authoritative parents and caregivers tend to set clear expectations to be met. They also tend to have definite consequences to befall the children who do not adhere to them. At the same time, they show a great deal of affection for their children. Their mode of disciplining children is flexible (Lorber & Egeland 2009). They are willing to find a common ground with them on matters concerning expectations and consequences. The model is viewed as the most successful. Authoritarian parents also tend to have clear expectations and consequences set out for their children. However, they show a little affection to their children. They are also not willing to reach a compromise with their children. As such, they are viewed to take full charge of all matters of discipline. However, researchers have found the mode of parenting to be ineffective since children are not allowed to express their views (Godina 2012). The cause of the undesirable behaviour can therefore not be established. On the other hand, permissive parents tend to show lots of affection to kids. They are also very lenient when it comes to a child’s discipline. However, the method is the least successful since the bad conduct is not corrected.

In addition, the method of disciplining used depends on the age of the child. There exist different age brackets before children reach adolescence. They include infants, early toddlers, late toddlers, Preschoolers-age, as well as school age (Miner & Clarke-Stewart 2008). Infants are the youngest. They are those children who are less than one-year-old. Vital lessons to an individual around this age revolve around issues of feeding, sleeping, playing, as well as interacting with others. Most of the disciplining done at the age is to enhance predictability and security. However, it is important that parents and caregivers do not over stimulate their children (Valles & Knutson 2008). Persons at this age need to be allowed to develop some degree of tolerance to frustrating situations. The value of self-soothing is also best taught at this age. Early toddlers, on the other hand, are those individuals between the age of one and two years. At this stage, individuals will tend to exercise their physical control over the environment around them. They also tend to use their will as opposed to that of others (Kawabata et al. 2011). At this age, tolerance by parents is encouraged. However, disciplinary interventions are also needed to prevent the children from developing destructive behaviour. Discipline will also reduce a child’s level of aggression, as well as enhance safety. Close supervision is also required at this phase to ensure that negative behaviour does not recur. The supervision also removes potentially harmful objects. Persons at this age also tend to be afraid of abandonment. As such, time-outs are discouraged as a disciplining method. Parents must also understand that the child has not fully developed verbal skills. As such, verbal prohibitions are not effective (Valles & Knutson 2008).

Late toddlers are the next age bracket. It consists of persons aged between two and three years. At the stage, individuals continue to assert their will. They also struggle to gain mastery of aspects of the environment around them (Somerville, Hare & Casey 2011). At this age, there is also an increasing urge to acquire independence from parents. Frustrations and inabilities will often lead temper outbursts among these individuals. In such instances, it is important for parents and caregivers to show empathy (Pereira et al. 2009). They should also carefully monitor the activities of their children and help them set realistic limits and routines. At this time, the parent is already aware of the kid’s capabilities and reaction to disappointment. As a result, they should avoid situations where frustrations will overwhelm the child. At this age, the child is also gaining verbal skills. As such, it is easy for the caregiver to guide them through activities successfully. From this stage, the child enters the preschooler age. It is also commonly referred to as the kindergarten-age. It consists of persons between three and five years (Baumrind, Larzelere & Owens 2010). At this age, an individual has already developed the capability to deal with reality. They are also capable of tending to their immediate needs. An individual at this stage often seeks the approval of parents. However, they have not gained mastery of many rules. As such, they lack the capability of making sound decisions without assistance (Braza et al. 2015). They tend to apply the actions and rules of adults in their immediate environment. Verbal rules and prohibition are effective in guiding conduct. However, supervision is still needed to ensure safety and adherence to guidelines. Time-outs can be an effective disciplining method at this age. A child can also be subjected to redirections and simple consequences for misbehaviour. Approval and giving praise are the major motivators to a child’s proper conduct at this age. Lectures and harsh words are not successful.

School age is the next stage. It is the longest of all. It spans between six and twelve years. It is also the most sensitive since it leads up to adolescence (Brumariu & Kerns 2010). Here, the child becomes increasing independent. As such, conflicts are expected between the kid and parents. The school environment tends to influence the behaviour of these individuals. They often tend to begin acting anonymously. The school environment presents them with an opportunity to be able to choose their friends and activities to take part in. Prior to the school age, the children were only aware of the authority that came from their parents. However, they get to learn about other sources of power in the society (Jewell et al. 2008). Parents are required to continue exercising their control and regulation. They should set clear and consistent rules to guide the child. However, it is important to allow them to be anonymous for them to be able to develop their personality. The use of praise and approval continues. However, it should not be used excessively. Increased use of the two has been found to result in immaturity in the developing individual. Favourable motivators are also encouraged to enhance behaviour. For example, rewards are often used to promote good performance at school. Discipline at this stage can be enhanced through delays and withdrawal of a child’s privileges, such as toys (Calkins et al. 2007). Time-outs can also be effective at this stage. Children past this age proceed to adolescence. Methods of disciplining students were discussed below.

Non-Physical Methods of Instilling Discipline

Traditionally, children were spanked for going against the set rules and regulations. However, corporal punishment has over the years become less popular among parents. It is evident that the method was effective in getting the attention of the children (Erath, El-Sheikh & Cummings 2009). In fact, most modern parents underwent spanking at some point during their upbringing. It is useful in promoting compliance. However, it was seen to have far-reaching adverse effects on children. The physical methods of disciplining kids include, among others, pinches, kicks, and slaps. However, the interventions were likely to create the perception that being violent is an effective means of dominating others (Garcia & Gracia 2009). As such, they tend to develop aggressive tendencies. It was also found that spanking destroys the bond between parents and their children (Simons & Conger 2007). As such, fear is often instilled in these children. Consequently, levels of trust go down. To control the negative effects associated with spanking, nonphysical methods of disciplining children were introduced. They include organising time outs, scolding, as well as grounding. The methods have been viewed to be more successful, especially for young and school going children. Like the case of spanking, non-physical methods of disciplining children also use rewards and punishment to influence the behaviour of children.

Non-Punitive Methods of Instilling Discipline

Unlike physical and non-physical means of disciplining kids, non-punitive methods are viewed to be more lenient. They are considered to be more respectful and compassionate. They are also associated with acts of kindness. The main idea behind this method of instilling discipline is to offer assistance to children to enable them find the right way. Most parents and caregivers who use the method tend to believe that children misbehave since they are not in a position to understand and interpret rules in a proper manner (Millichamp, Martin & Langley 2006).

Parental Nurturance Method of Instilling Discipline

Parental nurturance is a method used for enhancing positive behaviour in children by providing a healthy environment to support their emotional, psychological, and social growth (Locke & Prinz 2002). Effective disciplining should start from home. The reason behind this is that this is the first environment the child is exposed to. At the same time, parents are the first adults known to the child. As such, they will tend to imitate what they see and hear at home (Falk, Way & Jasinska 2012). Good parenting will also involve showing affection to the kids. As such, a child will be able to learn how to value others. Affection from caregivers also tends to shape a child’s personality. As such, parental nurturance can be said to be all about being the living example. It insists on the parent being the role model for their children. However, the method can be used alongside others.

Methodology and Ethical Consideration

Research Design

The research adopted a literature review study design to determine the impacts of failure to discipline children at an early age on their conduct at adolescence. To achieve this objective, the researcher obtained secondary data from a variety of existing literature to draw conclusions on the matter. The use of already existing literature enabled the researcher to gain an in-depth understanding of the issues revolving around disciplining. Besides, the use of this information helped the researcher to learn about the current trends on the issue (Kothari 2008).

The research was based on the assumption that discipline is a dynamic phenomenon. It changes over time and through space. The researcher used data from a wide span of time to analyse the various developments in this field over the years. For this reason, the study was able to capture the changes that have taken place in the field of child behaviour and parental discipline. The use of existing literature also enabled the researcher to address the matter of failure to control children at an early and its impact on behaviour during adolescence in a neutral manner. The author used secondary sources of data addressing the matter from different angles to achieve this goal. The research mainly sought to explore the phenomenon as it manifested itself in the United States of America (USA). The choice of location was informed by the presence of a vast pool of related secondary data resources about the country (Bhattacherjee 2012).

The target population was the adolescent population in the country, parents, and teachers. In this case, the adolescent population was considered to be composed of school going teenagers aged between 13 and 19 years. In the case of teachers, those concerned with guidance and counselling programs in the schools were the ones targeted for the research.

Sources of Data

Both books and journal articles were used as sources of data for the research. Four major databases were used to obtain these materials.

Databases used

The following were the databases used to access information:

  1. University e-service library
  2. JSTOR
  3. ProQuest, and
  4. Google scholar.

Search terms and keywords used

Various search terms and keywords were used to retrieve the materials needed for the research from the selected databases. They included the following:

  1. Discipline,
  2. Childhood discipline,
  3. Parenting,
  4. Adolescence,
  5. Adolescence discipline,
  6. Childhood and adolescence discipline, and
  7. Adolescence delinquency.

The keywords and search terms were used in various combinations depending on the information the researcher wanted to access.

Exclusion and inclusion criteria

Articles from academic and psychological journals were the most preferred for the research. A large number of articles and books were initially accessed. However, the researcher needed the most relevant resources for the study. To this end, inclusion and exclusion criteria were developed (Barreiro & Albandoz 2001). The tests were aimed at examining the extent to which the source would be of benefit to the completion of the research.

Inclusion criteria

With regards to inclusion criteria, all the resources to be used were required to be relevant to the research topic and objectives. In this case, it was important for the title of the books or the journal article to correspond to the issue in question. Secondary data sources to be used in the research were also required to be from scholars, agencies, or other related bodies with vast knowledge in psychology and related disciplines. Articles and books with more than one author were also preferred. The researcher determined that having more than one author would allow for less bias on any particular issue. In the case of journal articles, those with a large number of volumes released were also preferred. The age of the resources was also taken into consideration. Sources used were those published between 2000 and 2015. The time duration allowed the researcher to be able to analyse the current trends and the changes that have occurred over the years in the field (Robson 2007). The secondary sources published within the USA were also preferred. A total of 81 sources of secondary data were identified using the inclusion criteria.

Exclusion criteria

With regards to the exclusion criteria, the secondary sources of data were checked for relevance. The resources whose title was not seen to relate to the issue of discipline were avoided. The authenticity of the authors was also checked to ensure the integrity of the research. Books and journals written by authors with no background in psychology were rejected. For the case of articles, the authenticity of the journals was also checked. The articles not published in academic and psychological journals were left out. Articles published in fairly new journals were also avoided. The ones that had only released one volume were left out. The secondary sources that had been published earlier than 2000 were avoided. They were considered to be outdated and information obtained from them would not be accurate (Robson 2007). They were also thought to contain old ideas that would not be applicable in today’s society. Articles and books not written in the English language were also excluded. The reason behind this was that it would be a challenge for the researcher to collect any data from such a source for the lack of comprehension. At the end, a total of 75 books and articles were left out.

Methods of Data Collection

After obtaining the secondary sources required for the research, the next step was to gather data. The researcher went through the 81 secondary sources seeking to gain more insight on the issue. The title, objectives of the study, and research question were of great assistance in helping the researcher identify what information was useful in the study and that which was not (Robson 2007). The sources were analysed against the research objectives and questions. As such, the researcher sought to answer various queries. Of key importance was the impact of lack of childhood discipline on adolescent behaviour. The researcher had first to deal with other less complex questions to respond to this issue. They included the impact of leniency among parents on the behaviour of a child. It was also important for the researcher to respond to the question of why discipline was imperative in the growth and development of a child. The researcher was then required to provide a number of practical methods that parents could use to instil discipline in children.

Data Analysis

It is important to note that the data obtained from the research design used for this study was qualitative in nature. Data obtained from the secondary sources was found to be highly segmented. As such, data analysis involved coding. Each of the issues being researched on, in this case, the research questions, was assigned a specific code (Robson 2007). As the researcher went through the materials available, segments of information that proved vital in answering the questions were obtained and assigned to the codes. Having read extensively what the selected secondary data sources had to say about the issues, the researcher drew conclusions on each of them by carefully organising the segments.

Ethical Considerations

Secondary data sources were used as the primary source of information for the current study. The researcher acknowledged the original authors of the studies to enhance the moral nature of the current research. The acknowledgement was done through the use of citations. As such, the research was in no way viewed to have considered the thoughts of other authors as their own. In effect, plagiarism was avoided. The thoughts of other authors were also paraphrased. Plagiarism was treated by the researcher as a theft of intellectual property (Robson 2007). As such, it was avoided throughout the paper. Databases from which the sources were obtained were also recognised in the research. Information that was gathered in the course of the study was only meant for this research work. Written permission would be required to divert from this. The researcher also acknowledged all parties that were of assistance in promoting the successful completion of the paper.

The rights of the participants in the study were also respected. No one was named in the study without their approval. Since the research addressed issues revolving around children, their rights were respected. The examples used in the study were hypothetical. No child was named or associated with any particular conduct highlighted. The language used throughout the article was also ethical. There were no hurtful words used. The researcher also desisted from offering misleading information (Robson 2007). The conclusions made in the study were reached after extensive reading of the available secondary sources. To this end, no information was assumed or made up by the researcher. The conclusions were the thoughts of the researcher after reviewing the available literature.

Findings and Discussions


The search terms used to look for sources helped the researcher to obtain a total of 81 sources all which could be useful for the research. They were derived from the four databases used. The table below shows the number of resources accessed from each database:

Table 1: Databases and resources accessed

Name of Database Number of resources obtained from the database
University e-service Library 28
ProQuest 18
Google Scholar 12
Total 81

After the exclusion criteria had been applied, the researcher was left with 75 resources. They were used to provide literature to complete the study. With the change, the distribution of resources among the databases was also bound to change. The table below shows the number of resources that were obtained from each database upon the application of the exclusion criteria:

Table 2: Final tally of resources per database

Name of Database Number of resources obtained from the database
University e-service Library 27
ProQuest 15
Google Scholar 10
Total 75

Both books and journals were used to complete the study. In total, five books and 70 journal articles were used. The resources tended to pay attention to particular themes. Some of the key ideas identified were parenting, child discipline, self-management, adolescence behaviour, and qualitative research. The table below shows the number of resources that were obtained for each theme:

Table 3: Thematic analysis and resources obtained

Theme Number of resources
Parenting 23
Child Discipline 22
Self Management 7
Adolescent Behavior 20
Qualitative research 3

The Impact of Lenient Parenting on Children Behaviour

A total of 23 resources touching on parenting were used in the study. Among them, 18 resources supported the fact that nature of parenting played a major role in determining the conduct of children at their adolescent stage. Another 2 resources stated that the environment was to a large extent to blame for poor conduct among adolescents. The remaining three resources blamed both poor patenting and environment for increasing adolescent delinquency.

The chart below shows the different reasons that the resources attributed to be the cause of Adolescent delinquency and their proportions.

Reasons for Adolescent delinquency
Chart 1: Reasons for Adolescent delinquency

In the study, a number of reasons were identified to have resulted in leniency among parents. In most instances, leniency was associated with cases of abuse of the children and neglect. It was considered to be one of the greatest public health issues facing the population (Bostrom 2003).

The table below portrays child abuse and neglect as one of the greatest public health issues in today’s society.

Table 4: Public Health Issues affecting the Population in Order of Priority

Public Health Issues % Most Important % Informed
Child abuse and neglect 50 87
Drug and alcohol abuse 20 92
Chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer 18 90
Sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDs 12 84

The table below shows the various reasons that parental leniency was attributed to and their percentages.

Table 5: Reasons for Parental Leniency

Reason For Leniency Percentage
Increased alcohol and drug abuse by parents 69
Lack of parenting experience or skills 67
Abusive parents were abused as children 64
Presence of non-family members in the home 48
Kids are harder to control these days 39
Lack of spiritual guidance/God/religion 2

Importance of Discipline to a Child’s Growing Process

A total of 22 resources touching on the disciplining of a child were used. The main concern was how the effectiveness of the different disciplining methods can be promoted. Across all the resources, the age of the child was a major concern. Of the 22 resources used, 14 stated that disciplining was most effective at a tender age. The remaining 8 resources stated discipline should be instilled at all stages. The chart below attempts to show the most effective stage for disciplining children.

Effective Disciplining
Chart 2: Effective Disciplining
Behavioural pattern of low IQ children
Chart 1: Behavioural pattern of low IQ children

However, continued assistance from parents, teachers, and caregivers can change the conduct of the children.

In matters of parenting, leniency was found to be the major contributor of poor conduct among children. It is also the cause of poor performance in school according to Montessori (2008).

Poor performance resulting from indiscipline
Chart 2: Poor performance resulting from indiscipline

Methods of Instilling Discipline

Numerous methods of instilling discipline were found to be in use in today’s society. However, none involved physical punishment. The reason behind this is that this approach is seen to result in a cycle of violence. The findings are in line with those made in the research by SpeizerI et al. (2008) as shown below:

Table 6: The violence cycle resulting from physical punishment

The violence cycle resulting from physical punishment

A change in the temperament of children following corporal punishment is also blamed on the violence cycle.

Change in temperament of children
Graph 1: Change in temperament of children

The researcher also found that disciplining is a process. It involves a series of activities and teachings given to the children over a long time.

The table below shows activities that parents engage their children in on a daily and weekly basis in an attempt to instil discipline in them.

Table 7: Disciplining Activities

Parenting activities Frequency (%)
Daily Weekly
Show love and affection for your child 97 2
Teach your child basic values such as equality, honesty, and responsibility 88 10
Help your child feel he or she is good at doing something 87 11
Help your child enjoy learning new things or work hard at school 81 15
Teach your child social skills such as how to understand the feelings of others 74 19
Teach your child to get along with people of different races and backgrounds 72 16
Get to know child ’s friends 64 27
Ensure your child participates in arts, sports, recreation, or educational programs or activities outside of school 53 34
Encourage your child to help other people, including volunteering in his or her school, congregation, clubs, or community 46 33
Encourage other adults you respect to spend positive time with your child 41 32
Ensure your child is active in a church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious organization 32 44


The Impact of Lenient Parenting on Children Behaviour

From the results obtained, it is clear that most resources viewed parenting as largely to blame for the conduct of adolescents. They attributed this to the fact that an individual’s personality tends to be developed right from a tender age. It is the responsibility of the parents to ensure that one is well behaved as they develop. A disciplined individual will be able to make the right choices even when not under the supervision of parents (Steinberg 2008). The literature reviewed also showed that the environment was largely to blame for an individual’s behaviour. They stated that children tend to learn from a variety of sources, such as, the media and other members of the society. Despite efforts by parents to discipline their children, no success will be achieved, as long as, they are exposed to negative influences in their environment. Other resources stated that both poor parenting and the environment were to blame for poor conduct among adolescents. According to these resources, although children can learn negative conduct from the environment around them, it is the responsibility of their parents to keep them away from these influences right from a tender age (Albert, Chein & Steinberg 2013). The main reason given was that children lack the capability to differentiate right from wrong. As such, they will learn from what they see and hear.

The research also found that the leniency of parents has a negative effect on a child’s discipline. Children were also found to learn from what they hear or observe in their immediate environment (Stevens 2009). Parents were found to have better proximity with their children. As such, they were considered to be in the best position to influence a child’s environment. Discipline was also identified an important tool in promoting proper growth and development of a child (Luna, Padmanabhan & O’Hearn 2010). It was seen to encourage self-management. Self-management was associated with responsibility. Children who were disciplined adhered to the set expectations even without the supervision of parents. Through training and control, children learnt how to co-exist with others in a peaceful manner. At the same time, they respected property. Well-mannered children were also found to perform better in school compared to those who were not.

The results also show that there is a correlation between parental leniency and child abuse and neglect. The reason behind this is that leniency is often associated with failure to pay attention to events taking place around a child’s life. As a result, such parents often tend to neglect such children who are not capable of taking care of their own needs. Lack of parental touch will result indiscipline since the child does not have an authority figure. Neglected children are velnerable to abuse. The reason behind this is that they lack parental protection. Such children are likely to abuse others later in life (Bostrom 2003).

From the results, it is clear that alcohol and drug abuse among parents is one of the main causes of parental leniency. Parents noted to be faced with such problems should be given the necessary support in order to enable them take better care for their children. In order to deal with lack of parenting experience and skills, perhaps seminars and other training platforms would help deal with this problem (Bostrom 2003). Parents who were abused as children should also undergo cancelling to avoid a repeat of the same. The situation is more critical in instances where the parents were neglected. They also tend to pay minimal attention to the welfare of their children. Interventions would help end the cycle.

Presence of non-family members at home was also found to be one of the main reasons for parental leniency. Parents are known to shy away from disciplining their children simply because they are afraid of how others will perceive them. To help address this issue, people should receive counselling in order to improve their perception on discipline. It should no longer be viewed as a source of suffering to children but rather a means to mould them into better citizens (Bostrom 2003). There has also been an emerging attitude among parents that children are harder to control these days. Such attitudes are merely excuses to escape one’s responsibility to discipline their children. Parents can be trained on how to instil discipline right from a tender age to avoid the emergence of serious issues in the future. The findings also showed that there is a great relationship that exists between parenting and religion. Religious parents tend to be better parents. They seek to align the conduct of their children with the requirements of their faith.

Importance of Discipline to a Child’s Growing Process

Most of the resources were in support of disciplining child at a tender age. The main reason given is that it was easier to prevent a child from developing negative behaviour as opposed to rectifying conduct (Joosen et al. 2012). Rectification of negative conduct is often a tough process. In some cases, external intervention is required. At an early age, children accept change more easily. Their parents are the only source of authority they know and recognize in this stage. They are also less likely to resist punitive measures taken against them. Other resources stated that disciplining should be done at all stages of a child’s development. They considered discipline as a continuous process. Some of these resources equated disciplining to learning. If the children are not constantly reminded of what is expected of them, they tend to forget. In other cases, they may become lax in maintaining the set standards. Children also tend to be exposed to different materials and characters from time to time (Martinez & Garcia 2008). As such, the parents must be able to address these issues as they arise.

From the research, it was evident that the disciplining children at a young age determine their behaviour at adolescence. Early interventions resulted in positive outcomes in the future (Steinberg 2008). On the other hand, failure to instil values and morals on a child at a tender age resulted in the bad conduct at a later age. In most cases, it led to adolescent delinquency (Umeh 2009). It was much harder to rectify the behaviour of children once they attained the age of adolescence (Schmithorst & Yuan 2010). A number of factors could affect the conduct of a child. They included the predisposing environment, mode of parenting, as well as individual features of the adolescent. With regards to the environment, it was deemed important for children to be brought up in calm backgrounds. Parents should also be keen to set a good example. It was also found that parenting influenced a child’s future. Parents should not leave bad conduct by the child unpunished. In relation to individual features of an adolescent, it was found that a child’s IQ level can affect their behaviour. Those with low IQ were found to be more likely to be naughty compared to those with higher levels (Albert, Chein & Steinberg 2013).

Parents and caregivers tend to be the first adults in a child’s life. At the same time, they are the first authority known to the child. Failure to discipline them will lead to unruly behaviour in the future (Latzman & Latzman 2015). The reason for this is that they were not allowed to face the consequences of their actions from a tender age. The research also found that discipline was an important tool in promoting growth among children. Most importantly, it helped them acquire the self-management skills. Through discipline, a child also learns values, such as relating well to others and respect for others and their property. The skills are of value in future throughout their life. Lack of it is most evident at adolescence where one tends to be self-destructive and irresponsible. Poor performance at school can also signify bad conduct (Galand, Lecocq & Philippot 2007).

Methods of Disciplining Children

There are various disciplinary methods used in today’s society. They are categorised into non-physical, non-punitive, and parental nurturance. Physical methods are no longer used following their abolishment in many countries. Parents desist from using the method despite its efficiency when used well to avoid legal suits. The choice of the disciplinary method will depend on the age of the child and the nature of the wrongful act committed. Authoritative parents are found to be successful compared to those who are authoritarian and permissive. The reason is that they show affection to the children to support their emotional growth (Adams & Bukowski 2007).

Main categories of disciplining methods that were identified were non-physical, non-punitive, and parental nurturance (Galvan 2010). Non-physical means involved the use of techniques, such as scolding, time-outs, and grounding. Non-punitive methods, on the other hand, were found to use measures, such as democracy, natural consequence, internal discipline, rewards, as well as praise (Somerville 2013). Parental nurturance, unlike other methods, only involved the provision of a positive and encouraging environment for kids. The choice of the disciplinary method tended to differ depending on the nature of the parent. Three types of parents were identified. The three were authoritative, authoritarian, or permissive parents. Authoritative parents were considered to be the most successful in disciplining their children. Such caregivers were also doing well. However, the type of parenting was found to weaken the bond that existed between parents and their children. Permissive parents were found to be least effective in instilling discipline. They were excessively generous to their children (O’Brien et al. 2011). The research also found that the method of controlling adopted depended on the age of the child. Critical stages identified included infants, early toddlers, late toddlers, Preschoolers-age, as well as school age. Each group was found to have particular needs. It was found that these needs had to be tended to for the child to successfully transit to the next stage.

Disciplining a child was found to be most effective when done at an early age. The reason behind this was that, at the time, the human brain is still developing and so is the child (Joosen et al. 2012). An individual whose behaviour is rectified at a tender age was therefore in a position to distinguish between right and wrong early in life. Failure to instil discipline, on the other hand, leads to undesirable conduct (Wang et al. 2013). The reason behind this is that such an individual does not have knowledge of what is socially and morally acceptable. However, the research showed that other factors besides poor parenting can have an effect on an adolescent’s behaviour. The factors tended to revolve around the issues of parental factors, predisposing environment, as well as individual youth features (Martinez & Garcia 2008). Some parents can tend to have a negative influence on their children. Violence at home was most likely translated to aggressive behaviour. A child can also be exposed to unfavourable environment away from home. It is often through media. They imitate what they see and hear. Key television personalities and opinion leaders tend to be their role models in today’s digital age (Muschert 2007). As such, parents and caregivers should be keen to monitor their children’s interaction with the media. An important individual factor found to influence behaviour was IQ. Persons with low IQ tended to take more time to gain a mastery of the existing expectations and consequences. As such, they tended to misbehave more compared to those with a higher IQ. The findings are consistent with those made by Montessori (2008).

According to the findings, disciplining is a continuous process that should be undertaken throughout an individual’s childhood. Parents help their children learn what is expected of them by the society. They can achieve this by developing a series of routine activities to undertake. For example, parents who show affection to their children are likely to mould them to better citizens. The reason behind this is that they will grow learning how to care for others (Bostrom 2003). Parents who are cruel to their children on the other hand are likely to make them more resentful towards others.

Limitations of the Study

Various limitations affected the study. The research depended solely on the work of others. As such, the researcher’s conclusions were influenced by other people. Besides, there were some disagreements among the secondary sources of data used. The researcher found it hard to determine whose opinion to uphold. The most logical explanation for the issues in question was adopted. Quantitative data was also not used to support the researcher’s arguments.


The nature of a child’s upbringing affects their conduct in future (Winkielman et al. 2007). Lack of discipline at a tender age manifests itself the most during adolescence. Persons who are not well disciplined right from a tender age will tend to be delinquents during their adolescent stage. Children tend to learn through listening and observation. For this reason, children are more likely to learn from their immediate environment. Traditionally, the child’s environment consisted of parents, peers, and siblings (Osler 2006). However, technology has bridged the geographical barriers between individuals. Television has also made it possible for people to exchange culture and values. As a result, caregivers are required to provide close supervision to children to avoid corruption of their morals. Rebellion, poor self-management, sexual permissiveness, and violence are the major forms through which indiscipline in children are manifested (Dunne, Humphreys & Leach 2006). It is possible to rectify such conduct at an early age. Failure to do so will compound the situation. More effort will be required to change behaviour.

Lenient parenting is one of the main reasons of indiscipline. The reason behind this is that children are not assisted in distinguishing between right and wrong. As such, leniency among parents should be discouraged. To achieve this, parental training can be undertaken. Such forums can be used to help change the population’s attitude towards discipline. At the same time, discipline was found to be important in a child’s growing process. It helps one gain self-management skills. A child can be in a position to behave well even when not under the supervision of an adult. Different methods of instilling discipline can be used. However, their effectiveness tends to be affected by several factors, which include a child’s IQ, their age, and the nature of the wrongful act committed (Osler & Starkey 2005). Children with low IQ tend to have more recurring cases of indiscipline. The reason behind this is that they lack the mastery of the rules put in place by the adults around them. Age should also be considered while disciplining. The magnitude of the punishment meted on the child must also be consistent with the wrongful act committed.

Disciplining is best done at a younger age as a result of various reasons. To begin with, people tend to be closer to their parents at an early age. As they grow, they become anonymous and want to be independent (Burnett et al. 2011). As a result, disciplining at later stages of life will be less successful. In addition, it will likely lead to poor relations between the child and their caregivers. At a tender age, one is also only aware of parental authority. With time, they are exposed to other sources of power. As such, it will be hard for a parent to rectify behaviour then.


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