African American mothers' self-described discipline strategies with young children

Elizabeth A. Lecuyer, Julie J. Christensen, Margaret H. Kearney, Harriet J. Kitzman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Aims and Objectives: African American families have been described as using higher levels of non-abusive physical discipline with their children than European American families. Few if any studies have documented AA families'use of disciplinary strategies in their own words, however, or their reasons for their use. Methods: In this qualitative study, 51 African American mothers from a 1992 Memphis sample described their disciplinary strategies with their 12 to 19 month old children. Results: Seventy-seven percent of mothers described using verbal teaching along with non-abusive physical discipline, such as tapping their children'’s hands. Mothers also expressed concern about being too strict, described awareness of their children'’s developmental limits, and used non-physical disciplinary methods, consistent with positive accepting parent-child relationships. Conclusions: These findings are important because the low-income girls who experienced such parenting in the 1990s are now young mothers themselves. Current practice guidelines encourage new mothers to think about how they themselves were parented; the knowledge from this study may assist practitioners to engage present-day African American mothers in supportive discussions about physical and non-physical discipline methods with young children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-162
Number of pages19
JournalComprehensive Child and Adolescent Nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • African American
  • Children
  • Discipline
  • Early childhood
  • Parent
  • Parenting
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics


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