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Parenting with Purpose: Understanding Child Development and Discipline

May 01, 2024

Raising kids is a wild ride full of ups and downs, and so many chances to learn and grow. It's our job as parents to help our children navigate life's twists and turns, molding them into the best versions of themselves. But with all the chaos of everyday life, it's easy to forget the significance of being mindful and deliberate in our parenting approach.

Parents can help their kids grow up happy and healthy by learning about how children develop and why it's important to teach them how to behave. This knowledge will help you support your children's growth, strength, and emotional health.

Our guide can help you do parenting with purpose. Keep reading to learn the information, resources, and effective techniques needed to navigate the ups and downs of raising strong and empathetic individuals.

3 main stages of child development

Child development is an incredible adventure filled with important milestones and phases. It's essential for you as a parent to grasp these stages to provide the best care and guidance for your child. 

So, now we’re going to explore the fundamental aspects of child development, starting from infancy all the way to middle childhood:

Infancy (0-2 years)

Your babies go through amazing changes during the infancy stage, experiencing rapid growth and development in their bodies and minds. It's a time of incredible transformation for your little ones:

  • Physical development: Babies usually gain weight quickly, improve their motor skills, and explore their senses. From grabbing things to walking for the first time, each milestone reached during infancy shows how their physical abilities are expanding.

  • Cognitive development: Infants' cognitive development includes the development of mental abilities like attention, memory, and problem-solving. As they grow, they start to identify familiar faces, mimic sounds, and investigate their environment with a sense of curiosity.

  • Social and emotional development: During the early stages of life, infancy sets the groundwork for socio-emotional growth. Infants establish connections with their primary caregivers and develop the ability to manage their emotions. The relationship between parent and child is essential in molding the infant's feeling of safety and confidence in the environment.

Early childhood (2-6 years)

During early childhood, children experience quick language learning, social skill building, and emotional development. This stage is all about exploring and discovering the world: 

  • Language development: Children experience the highest level of language acquisition during their early childhood years, as they quickly grow their vocabulary and language skills. They start to communicate verbally, participate in discussions, and understand more advanced language patterns.

  • Social skills development: During the early years, children reach important social milestones such as mastering the art of sharing, taking turns, and working together with others. They start to show empathy and grasp social rules and standards, which sets the foundation for forming positive relationships with both peers and adults.

  • Emotional regulation: As kids grow, they become better at understanding and dealing with their emotions. They figure out how to handle things like being upset, let down, or super excited. This helps them become stronger and more emotionally balanced.

Middle childhood (6-12 years)

During middle childhood, kids start to explore new things, grow mentally, and learn more about themselves. They become more self-reliant and start to shape their own personalities:

  • Cognitive milestones: Children in middle childhood keep developing their cognitive abilities, honing their problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and academic competencies. They become more independent in learning and decision-making, setting the stage for academic achievement.

  • Peer relationships: Friendships are essential during middle childhood, helping kids understand social dynamics, develop key skills like teamwork and problem-solving, and feel like they belong and are capable in social situations.

  • Identity formation: In middle childhood, children begin to discover who they are by trying out things they enjoy, what they think is important, and what they believe in. Their sense of self and who they are starts to form from how they interact with others, make connections, and see the world around them.

The role of parental discipline in child development

Discipline is very important in helping a kid grow up. It affects how they act, think, and how happy they are. Discipline means when parents teach kids how to behave and be responsible. It's like a building block for kids to grow up and become mature.

Definition and purpose of discipline

Discipline is not only about giving punishments. It's also about guiding kids in the right direction and helping them become better. It gives them rules and boundaries, which makes it simpler for them to know what's good and what's bad.

When parents make rules that are easy to understand and have consequences, they help kids figure out how to make smart choices and grow into responsible people.

Different approaches to discipline

There are various ways to handle discipline, like the authoritarian method that uses strict rules and punishment to make children listen. While this can make them follow the rules right away, it might also stop them from thinking for themselves and growing their critical thinking skills.

The permissive method leans towards being more forgiving, emphasizing affection and approval rather than rules and limits. Even though this method helps you and your child grow closer, it might confuse the child and make it hard for them to understand the rules.

The authoritative method finds a sweet spot between being firm and warm, blending clear expectations with empathy and understanding. This method promotes open communication and mutual respect, creating a nurturing atmosphere where kids can freely explore and learn from their errors.

5 strategies for effective discipline in your household

Parenting requires discipline, but it doesn't have to mean punishment. Good discipline means teaching your child right from wrong while keeping a loving and supportive bond. Here are some tips we use at home that could help you too: 

1. Establish clear expectations with your child

You should have clear rules and boundaries when it comes to discipline. Kids need to know what they're supposed to do and what they shouldn't do. You can talk to your child about the rules in your house and what you want them to do in a way that they can understand.

The rules we have at home are about being polite, helping out with chores, and not spending too much time on screens. When we explain what we expect, it helps our kids learn about boundaries and the consequences of their actions.

2. Be consistent with your discipline

It's essential to always be consistent when it comes to discipline. Our goal is to make sure we follow the rules and give out fair consequences in a way that we can predict. This applies to everything from bedtime routines to when we have conflicts with our siblings. This helps set clear expectations and avoids any confusion or resentment from our child.

3. Practice positive reinforcement

You should always address misbehavior, but you should also ensure to highlight and support positive behavior. We commend our child when they show good qualities or make wise decisions. We use positive reinforcement through verbal praise, support, or rewards like more playtime or special treats. 

4. Setting appropriate consequences 

Consequences happen when we do something, and they help us learn. We always make sure the consequences we give are fair, right for the kid's age, and connected to what they did wrong.

For example, if your little one refuses to tidy up their toys, you might enforce a consequence of losing screen time until they finish the task. By connecting consequences to their actions, you assist your child in comprehending the impact of their choices and foster a sense of responsibility.

5. Encourage open communication

Good discipline is more than making sure rules are followed. It's about promoting open communication and empathy. 

You can support your child in sharing their thoughts, emotions, and worries without worrying about being criticized. With active listening and understanding, you get a better understanding of our child's point of view and can deal with any underlying problems more efficiently. 

Open communication helps strengthen your connection with your child and establishes a nurturing atmosphere for development and education. This means they can share their mental health challenges as they grow into teens.


Parenting intentionally involves having a real understanding of child development and using appropriate discipline methods. 

Remember that it's important to always be consistent, patient, and understanding when it comes to helping your child grow and develop in a good way. Let's remind ourselves to keep learning and changing as parents, as we go through the adventure of raising kids with love and purpose. 

Contact us today to learn more about child development and discipline, and discover helpful resources for keeping your and your child’s mental health in check. You can also browse our OPA resources.