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The Impact of Discipline on the Adolescent Behaviour Proposal



According to Millichamp, Martin, and Langley (2006), there has been an increase in adolescence delinquent behaviour in the recent past across the world. The increased cases of adolescent violence, permissive sexual behaviour, truancy, and rebellion at school and at home are manifestations of childhood indiscipline. Discipline is a learned behaviour (Latzman & Latzman 2015; Derringer et al. 2010).

Braza et al. (2015, p. 848) address the subject of resilience in kids from authoritative backgrounds. Parents of such kids seem to influence positively their kids’ psychological progress. Parents play an important role in instilling discipline in their children. Their place in moulding children discipline makes it subjective to societal values, beliefs, customs, and education systems. They become self-disciplined. Therefore, it is possible to tell whether an adolescent was disciplined during his or her childhood based on the way he or she behaves. The manifestation of cases of adolescent indiscipline, for example through sexual perversion, violence, and rebellion, are evident in the international front. For example, in 2009, 55,000 adolescent students were suspended from Australian secondary schools following physical delinquency.

In Belgium, most of the teachers who quit from the teaching profession cite student violence as that major cause of their actions. In 2007, the National Centre for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics of the United States of America indicated that 7% of the teachers in the US encountered threats of injury from students. These cases of adolescent violence and rebellion are attributed to poor parenting, environmental predisposition, and individual adolescent features. Adolescents can learn violence from observing adults who act violently. This claim implies that a child can learn to be aggressive from observing parents kick, pinch, punch, or behave ferociously to one another or to strangers (Taillieu & Brownridge 2013). Children with low Intelligent Quotients (IQ) are likely to be naughty than their high-IQ counterparts (Millichamp, Martin & Langley 2006). As such, low-IQ children require disciplining from a tender age before they reach adolescence (Li et al. 2013; Pereira et al. 2015).

These children are also likely to be antisocial, a factor that predisposes them to be brutal during their adolescence. This situation calls for early rectification of the behaviour through simulated and innate rewards and punishment from parents and teachers. As a form of skill, discipline should also be instilled during childhood, especially to male kids who show symptoms of attention difficulties, low motor skills, and difficulties in reading since such boys are likely to be unrefined during their adolescence. Parents and teachers can rectify this early manifestation. Exposure of children to a violent environment also teaches them to be vicious (Munro, van Niekerk, & Seedat 2006).

The increased cases of sexual perversion in adolescence have also been attributed to indiscipline during childhood. Violent sexual behaviour can be learned through observation. The average teenager spends more time watching television than in the classroom. Borrowing from the social learning theory, children can learn about sexuality from others following what is depicted in the media platforms. Human sexuality is governed primarily by social conditioning, than endocrinal stimulation. The cultivation theorists hold that television constructs realities in the minds of viewers. Therefore, the depiction of sex as an acceptable behaviour may easily plant an influential portrait in the mind of the children who prefer identifying with such characters (Millichamp, Martin & Langley 2006). In the United States and other advanced countries, various researches indicate that 46% of high-school teenagers have had sexual intercourse (Li et al. 2013).

This observation is not different in the sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Australia. Parents, teachers, and religious leaders have continuously blamed the increased delinquent sexual behaviour among adolescents on watching television and observing older people performing similar acts. This proposal confirms that although parents have the primary responsibility of correcting sexual behaviour in children at an early age, little information is available on the relationship between indiscipline in childhood and indiscipline during adolescence. Using the social learning theory, this research will explore secondary resources in an effort to bridge the current information gap on the impact of lack of children discipline during the early days on their behaviour during adolescent.

Problem Statement

Cases of indiscipline among adolescents have continued to prevail in the modern-day world. Adolescent indiscipline has been manifested in the form of violence, sexual perversion, and rebellion (Li et al. 2013). Such delinquent behaviours among adolescents are common in the US, Australia, Asia, and the sub-Saharan Africa. The increase in adolescent delinquent behaviour has been attributed to lack and/or poor disciplining during the childhood years. Naughtiness is learned from other people or from media platforms. Kids learn to be cruel, defiant, and sexually lenient from parents, peers, teachers, and other members of the society (Albert, Chein, & Steinberg 2013).

During their early days, they look within their environment in search for the acceptable or unacceptable behaviour. Since discipline dictates what is right and wrong, the proposal suggests that parents have the capacity to shape children’s manners by imparting in them the knowledge of what is right or wrong during their formative years.

Research Objectives

This research aims at realising the following objectives:

  1. To find out the impact of lenient parents on their children’s behaviour
  2. To investigate why discipline is imperative to a child’s growing process
  3. To find out the methods that are used to instil discipline in children

Research Questions

Based on the above objectives, this research answers the following questions:

  1. What is the impact of lenient parents on their children’s behaviour?
  2. Why is discipline central to a child growing process?
  3. Which methods can be used to instil discipline in children?

Literature Review

Leniency of Parents and Children Discipline

The discipline of children is highly dependent on their parents’ efforts. Since parents are the first people to interact with their children, kids always imitate their actions and behaviour (Li et al. 2013). Parents are also in the immediate environment of the children. This proximity makes them (parents) stand an excellent chance of monitoring the discipline of their children. Children’s conduct matches with what they see in their surroundings. Kids will either adopt a certain manner of behaving through observation or experience (Millichamp, Martin & Langley 2006).

Therefore, parents can guide their children in acquiring skills that are necessary for them to discern what is right or wrong. Leniency on the part of parents may result in a poor inculcation of discipline. Children need to be given right skills and knowledge to distinguish what is morally acceptable from what is off beam as far as societal standards are concerned (McCluskey 2014).

With the increased abolishment of corporal punishment in most countries, especially in America and Europe, there has been an unprecedented move towards leniency in disciplining children (Wang & Xing 2014; Mackenbach et al. 2014). Over the ages, parents have had all the rights to choose whether to beat their children for indiscipline. For instance, during the 1970s, spanking of children by their parents was a common practice in instilling discipline. Parents would discipline children through beating them using an empty hand or an object (Caldarella, Page & Gunter 2012).

However, cases of serious and abusive spanking of children were also common, sometimes resulting in injuries, maiming, and death. However, the level of leniency in disciplining children increased steadily in the late 1970s. This situation has continued to rise up to date. For instance, by 2009, corporal punishment of kids had been abolished in 24 countries in the world. Although, corporal punishment of children continued in North America, Australia, and Britain, the trends changed course from 2012. Abolishment of corporal punishment has continued to spread to other continents. Today, most of the nations in Africa and Asia have also enacted laws to abolish physical retribution of children (Saunders 2013).

Levels of leniency depend on the parenting style that parents adopt in disciplining their children. For example, parents can be authoritative, totalitarian, generous, and unresponsive (Davidov, Grusec & Wolfe 2012). This trend has resulted in an increase in indiscipline among adolescents.

Importance of Discipline to Children’s Growing Process

Discipline enables children to acquire the necessary skills essential for self-management. Disciplining involves a process of teaching children the necessary skills for them to distinguish right from wrong. Self-management involves the acquisition of skills necessary in personal grooming, time management, and ability to monitor and to be responsible for personal behaviour. Children imitate the habits and behaviour of their parents and those in their immediate environment including teachers (Li et al. 2013).

Children also learn behaviour from the media within their environment for instance by watching people behave in a particular way on TV, movies, or listen to them on the radio, especially when such behaviour is performed by popular characters or opinion leaders that children admire. Behaviour is learned. Since discipline is a way of acting, it is also acquired through learning. Children that live with parents or relatives that score high in self-management are also likely to be better self-managers in their future. Parents can also use rewards and punishment to reinforce self-management as a discipline (Millichamp, Martin & Langley 2006). Children learn to behave in a particular way while expecting a reward or punishment.

Discipline also teaches children the importance of peaceful co-existence. It enables them to learn the important social skills that enable them to live in a social world. Such skills as respect for others, courtesy, and love are part of discipline. Obedience also teaches children the importance of respecting other people’s property and working hard to acquire personal assets. It ensures that they coexist peacefully with others at home, in school, and/or even when they grow to the adolescence stage. Discipline is a major driver of academic excellence (Qualls 2014). Children spend most of their time in schools acquiring academic skills. Discipline involves teaching skills and behaviour (Li et al. 2013).

Regimented kids can manage themselves and their academic work successfully. Time management, self-management, sacrifice, and persistence are skills that fall under the subject of discipline. These skills are also important for academic success. Well-organised students can coexist with other learners, share information, discuss, and teach other kids acceptable morals. Such children interact well with teachers, parents, and their colleagues. Good relationship and respect for parents and teachers also reduce the chances of punishment to children. Hence, they can have adequate time for study.

Methods of instilling Discipline in Children

Parents use various methods to discipline their children. When children are repeatedly exposed to parents and neighbours whose behaviours do not match the societal expectation such as alcoholics and/or people who engage in sexual abuse, domestic violence, and physical bodily harm, they also behave in the same way during their adolescent years (Passini, Pihet, & Favez 2014). They involve themselves in unruly cases of rape, school strikes, arsons, and assaults of their peers, parents, and teachers. This behaviour can be rectified through disciplining in the formative years when children begin to learn the acceptable behaviour.

The method of discipline that parents use determines the reception and adoption of skills by children (Millichamp, Martin & Langley 2006). The disciplining methods are both non-physical and non-punitive. Non-physical discipline measures that parents apply during childhood include time outs, grounding, and scolding. On the other hand, non-punitive discipline by parents to their children takes the form of praise and rewards, natural consequences, internal discipline, and democracy.


Research Design

The study will adopt a literature review study design to investigate the impact of lack of discipline during childhood on their behaviour during adolescent. The design involves collecting secondary data from the existing literature on the same subject and drawing conclusions to see how the findings apply to the specific subject of adolescent discipline (Kothari 2008, p. 33).

Reviewing the existing literature will be suitable for answering questions about the status of a phenomenon. Since discipline in adolescents is a behaviour that keeps on changing, this design will be suitable for understanding it in the State of Delaware through a cross-sectional study. The rationale behind the choice of the design is that it enables the researcher to view a wide range of materials that address the same subject from different angles (Kothari 2008, p. 33). The design also investigates a particular phenomenon in depth with the view of understanding it broadly. Secondary data is used in the explorative studies that allow researchers to visit various databases, summarise their findings, and interpret information to derive the relevant inferences.

Sources of Data

This study will be conducted in the State of Delaware in the US. The choice of location will be based on how conveniently accessible the secondary sources of data are to the researcher. Bhattacherjee (2012) upholds this plan when he says that the ideal setting for any study should be easily accessible to the researcher. Another basis for the choice of location is that secondary sources show that no similar study has been carried out in this region. The target population is 13-19-year-old school-going adolescents in the State of Delaware, guidance and counselling teachers, and parents. Secondary sources books and academic and psychology journals with information on these groups within this area will be reviewed.

Methods of Data Collection

Sampling is a technique that researchers use to gather information. It involves selecting representative individuals or objects from a population or a group for study. As Barreiro, Lagares, and Albandoz (n.d, p. 3) recommend, the selected group must contain elements that represent the characteristics that are found in the entire group. Hence, for the particular study that involves the use of secondary sources, various keywords will be used to get the relevant sources. The databases that the study will use include Ebscohost, Jstor, and Proquest. The researcher will use keywords such as discipline, childhood discipline, child behaviour, parenting, adolescent behaviour, and childhood and adolescent discipline. Using the many results that will appear, the researcher will narrow down to sources that were published between 2006 and 2015.

The goal will be to get the most recent sources that contain updated information concerning the subject under study. Thereafter, the researcher will narrow down to articles that have been written in English and/or whose content seems relevant to the study. Later, after reviewing the data, the research will draw conclusions concerning the impact of lack of kids’ discipline during childhood on their behaviour during adolescent.

Ethical Considerations

Ethical principles are the moral considerations that guide the procedure of carrying out research. In the course of this research, the acknowledgement will be given to all sources that the paper will use. Plagiarism is a vice that will not be tolerated since it translates to intellectual theft. Information that will be gathered from various secondary sources will only be used exclusively for the purposes of this study. Divulgence of such sources will only be done with a written permission. Ethical guidelines on children rights will also be put into consideration since the research addresses juveniles (young children). For example, cases of delinquent sexual or violent behaviour to be analysed will not be extended to incorporate names from children whose behaviour the researcher presumes to be matching his or her findings.


Lack of children discipline during early days influences their behaviour during adolescence. The state of discipline of a particular adolescent is highly dependent on his or her childhood upbringing. Since discipline denotes the skills and knowledge that an individual has as a guide towards distinguish between what is right or wrong, it has to be acquired. Children acquire discipline through observation of their immediate environment, including their parents, peers, and the media. The major manifestation of indiscipline in children happens through violence, sexual permissiveness, rebellion, and poor self-management.

The reviewed literature also indicates that discipline is also acquired through acting. Parents have the primary responsibility of instilling, motivating, and building discipline in their children. The study also indicates that teachers and peers also play a major role in establishing childhood discipline. Indiscipline cases can be rectified at an early age when the child is still learning to distinguish the right and wrong behaviour. Parents use various approaches to teaching discipline to their children. The literature review also indicates that if parents are too lenient on children, their (children) discipline is likely to be compromised. A lenient parent may have low or no control of a child’s discipline, especially with the increased enactment of laws on corporal punishment. However, leniency may also work in cases where parents adopt non-punitive approaches.

The review also indicates that discipline is important to a child’s growth process. This observation has been attributed to the fact that during childhood, kids seek answers to the question of what is right and wrong and quickly acquire the necessary skills for their lives. If indiscipline behaviour is not corrected during childhood, it is likely to entrench itself in the child’s adolescence and adulthood. During childhood, kids have higher trust in their parents since they are their first mentors who are within their immediate environment. Therefore, it is easier to mould kids’ behaviour during this age than in adolescence. Various methods of teaching discipline to children have also been demonstrated in the literature review. Such methods include non-physical and non-punitive measures. Non-physical discipline measures that parents apply during childhood include time outs, grounding, and scolding.

On the other hand, the above literature review indicates that non-punitive discipline by parents to their children take the form of praise and rewards, natural consequences, internal discipline, and democracy. Therefore, further research on this issue will seek to explore the impact of lack of discipline during childhood on the adolescent behaviour. The research proposes an interpretive research paradigm in carrying out a document study through the review of secondary data.


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