The New Dare to Discipline

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Much-needed answers to your toughest parenting questions.
Why are boundaries so important? Do children really want limits set on their behavior? My spouse doesn’t seem to care about discipline. Why am I stuck being the “bad guy” all the time? Is it okay to spank my child? If I do, will he think I don’t love him? Will it lead him to hit others and become a violent person?
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Much-needed answers to your toughest parenting questions.
Why are boundaries so important? Do children really want limits set on their behavior? My spouse doesn’t seem to care about discipline. Why am I stuck being the “bad guy” all the time? Is it okay to spank my child? If I do, will he think I don’t love him? Will it lead him to hit others and become a violent person?
Join the millions of caring parents who have found answers in the wisdom of parenting authority and family counselor Dr. James Dobson. The New Dare to Discipline is a revised and updated edition of the classic bestseller, designed to help you lead your children through the tough job of growing up. This practical, reassuring guide will teach you how to meet your children’s needs of love, trust, affection—and discipline. Tyndale House Publishers
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780842305068
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/1996
  • Series: Christian Growth Self Help Series
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 198,617
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

First Chapter

The Challenge

This is a book about children and those who love them. The first edition was written in the early 1970s when I was a professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine. Our own children were still pre-schoolers, which made it risky to offer advice about parenting techniques. That’s like a coach bragging in the first quarter about how he expects to win the game. Nevertheless, I had seen enough academically and professionally to have developed some firm convictions about how children should be raised and what they needed from their parents.

More than twenty years and 2 million copies of Dare to Discipline have come and gone since I first sat down to write. That passage of time has broadened my horizon and, hopefully, sharpened my vision. I’ve worked with thousands of families and I’ve considered the child-rearing views of many authorities and colleagues. My kids have paddled through adolescence and have established homes of their own. Thus, it is a special privilege for me to roll back the clock now and revisit the themes with which I first grappled so many years ago.

One might expect my views of child development and parenting to have evolved significantly within the intervening years. Such is not the case. Admittedly, the social backdrop for the original Dare to Discipline has changed dramatically, which is why this book needed to be revised and expanded. The student revolution that raged through the late sixties and early seventies has subsided. Woodstock and the Viet Nam War are distant memories, and university campuses are again quieter and less rebellious. But children haven’t changed, nor will they ever. I’m even more convinced now that the principles of good parenting are eternal, having originated with the Creator of families. The inspired concepts in Scripture have been handed down generation after generation and are just as valid for the twenty-first century as they were for our ancestors. Unfortunately, many of today’s parents have never heard those time-honored ideas and have no clue about what they’re trying to accomplish at home.

I’ll never forget a mother in that predicament who asked for my help in handling her defiant three-year-old daughter, Sandy. She realized that her tiny little girl had hopelessly beaten her in a contest of wills, and the child had become a tyrant and a dictator. On the afternoon prior to our conversation, an incident occurred which was typical of Sandy’s way of doing business. The mother (I’ll call her Mrs. Nichols) put the youngster down for a nap, but knew it was unlikely she would stay in bed. Sandy was not accustomed to doing anything she didn’t fancy, and naptime was not on her list of fun things to do in the afternoon.

On this occasion, however, the child was more interested in antagonizing her mom than in merely having her own way. Sandy began to scream. She yelled loudly enough to upset the whole neighborhood, fraying Mrs. Nichols’ jangled nerves. Then she tearfully demanded various things, including a glass of water.

At first Mrs. Nichols refused to comply with the orders, but she surrendered when Sandy’s screaming again reached a peak of intensity. As the glass of water was delivered, the mischievous child pushed it aside, refusing to drink because her mother had not brought it soon enough. Mrs. Nichols stood offering the water for a few minutes, then said she would take it back to the kitchen if Sandy did not drink by the time she counted to five.

Sandy set her jaw and waited through the count: "three . . . four . . . five!" As Mrs. Nichols grasped the glass and walked toward the kitchen, the child screamed for the water. Sandy dangled her harassed mom back and forth like a yo-yo until she tired of the sport.

Mrs. Nichols and her little daughter are among the many casualties of an unworkable, illogical philosophy of child management which has long dominated the literature on this subject. This mother had read that a child will eventually respond to reason and forbearance, ruling out the need for firm leadership. She had been told to encourage the child’s rebellion because it offered a valuable release of hostility. She attempted to implement the recommendations of the experts who suggested that she verbalize the child’s feelings in a moment of conflict: "You want the water but you’re angry because I brought it too late" . . . "You don’t want me to take the water back to the kitchen" . . . "You don’t like me because I make you take naps." She had also been taught that conflicts between parent and child were to be perceived as misunderstandings or differences in viewpoint.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Nichols and her advisors were wrong! She and her child were involved in no simple difference of opinion: she was being challenged, mocked, and defied by her daughter. No heart-to-heart talk would resolve this nose-to-nose confrontation, because the real issue was totally unrelated to water or the nap or other aspects of the particular circumstances. The actual meaning behind this conflict and a hundred others was simply this: Sandy was brazenly rejecting the authority of her mother. The way Mrs. Nichols handled these confrontations would determine the nature of their future relationship, especially during the adolescent years.

Much has been written about the dangers of harsh, oppressive, unloving discipline; these warnings are valid and should be heeded. However, the consequences of oppressive discipline have been cited as justification for the abdication of leadership. That is foolish. There are times when a strong-willed child will clench his little fists and dare his parents to accept his challenges. He is not motivated by frustration or inner hostility, as it is often supposed. He merely wants to know where the boundaries lie and who’s available to enforce them.

Many well-meaning specialists have waved the banner of tolerance, but offered no solution for defiance. They have stressed the importance of parental understanding of the child, and I concur. But we need to teach children that they have a few things to learn about their parents, too!

Mrs. Nichols and all her contemporaries need to know how to set limits, and what to do when defiant behavior occurs. This disciplinary activity must take place within the framework of love and affection, which is often difficult for parents who view these roles as contradictory. Dare to Discipline is addressed, in part, to this vital aspect of raising healthy, respectful, happy children.

The term "discipline" is not limited to the context of confrontation, and neither is this book. Children also need to be taught self-discipline and responsible behavior. They need assistance in learning how to handle the challenges and obligations of living. They must learn the art of self-control. They should be equipped with the personal strength needed to meet the demands imposed on them by their school, peer group, and later adult responsibilities.

There are those who believe these characteristics cannot be taught—that the best we can do is send children down the path of least resistance, sweeping aside the hurdles during their formative years. The advocates of this laissez-faire philosophy would recommend that youngsters be allowed to fail in school if they choose . . . or maintain their bedrooms like proverbial pigpens . . . or let their puppies go hungry.

I reject this notion and have accumulated considerable evidence to refute it. Children thrive best in an atmosphere of genuine love, undergirded by reasonable, consistent discipline. In a day of widespread drug usage, immorality, sexually transmitted diseases, vandalism, and violence, we must not depend on hope and luck to fashion the critical attitudes we value in our children. Permissiveness has not simply failed as an approach to child rearing. It’s been a disaster for those who have tried it.

When properly applied, loving discipline works! It stimulates tender affection, made possible by mutual respect between a parent and a child. It bridges the gap which otherwise separates family members who should love and trust each other. It allows the God of our ancestors to be introduced to our beloved children. It permits teachers to do the kind of job in classrooms for which they are commissioned. It encourages a child to respect other people and live as a responsible, constructive citizen.

As might be expected, there is a price tag on these benefits: they require courage, consistency, conviction, diligence, and enthusiastic effort. In short, one must dare to discipline in an environment of unmitigated love. We’ll discuss the methods by which that can be accomplished in subsequent chapters.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 44 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2008

    One of the Best

    Great book!!!! Lots of practical information...I didn't know about it until I saw ugly things written about it on a website and it intrigued me. Loved the book!! Thanks B & N for selling it!!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2008


    Some the of these people have absolutely no concept of what this book is about. This book is NOT about child abuse, name calling, or degrading a child. In fact Dobson spends almost as much time on positive alternatives to spanking as he does on spanking. He gives many great tips on discipline, including advice on teaching. He does not advocate any forms of physical discipline other than spanking on the buttox and lightly squeezing the muscle between the neck and shoulders, neither of which cause any permanent physical damage to the child. For those of you who believe that Jesus would not discipline, grab your Bible and look up Matthew 21:12. It was love, but it definitely wasn't peaceful, mushy love. It was a love that said 'I love you guys, but what you're doing is wrong.' And it definitely was physical. Don't try to explain away the verse 'he that spareth his rod hateth his son', because in the same book, it says 'Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.' (Prov. 23:13-14, ESV) The culture is different today from what is was in the Old Testament, but people have always been the same. People have needed and always will need love, but they also have needed and always will need discipline. See Hebrews 12:5-9, 11 This is great book and I recommend it to anyone. And by the way, read the entire book before you review it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2009

    Dobson's "Dare To Discipline" solid

    I read this book many years ago when i was confused how to properly discipline my children. Every book i read contradicted the next book i read. I finally came to the conclusion that none of these authors had the foggiest idea how to raise children. Then came "Dare To Discipline." This book (and all his books) was like a breath of fresh air.The books are refreshing, and at times humorous. It is biblically based and solid in it's teachings. My children have grown to be very responsible adults. They each contribute to society, they have self respect, and they respect others. I attribute much of that to the guidance we recieved through Dr. Dobsons books. I would recommend his books to any parent, especially those who are frustrated, confused, and are just plain fed up with teachings that don't work. Thank You.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2003

    I always refer to this book

    I reread this book at least once a year to 'refresh' me. This book very helpful. Dr. Dobson is realistic with his advice. I recommend this book to anyone with children.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2010

    The New Dare To Discipline

    This informational book takes a Christian-based approach on how to balance control while loving your child so you can achieve a happy home and an emotionally-healthy family. If your child has serious behavior problems then this book will help you take a step back to look at the situation from a different point of view and extinguish the defiant behaviors. It will help you understand why everything is going wrong so you can change your actions and reactions to the situation, by taking control and letting him know who is in charge. The changes will not happen overnight, but being persistent and consistent will pay off. The book is a great reference on how to successfully guide your children from preschool to high school and addresses any problems you might face like having an underachiever, slow learner, or late bloomer. As Dobson says, "you have to treat him with respect and dignity to expect the same from him." To sum it up, love and discipline go hand in hand; your child has to know he is loved and that he deserved the discipline that was given to him.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2007

    A reviewer

    I was talking with other mums and dads while watching our children play football. The subject of discipline came up when talking about childrens behaviour and how we deal with it. The nervousness was palpable Punishing their children is taboo and they even feel guilty if they have to. But one thing is they all admit something is wrong withregards to what is acceptable and what is not. I think Dr Dobson has finally put what we all really think out there but he is seen by many as one who said the F- word out loud in church. Is he right or wrong? Not sure, but it is a good start. The scripture verse 'Spare the rod' is often used and but it has been misunderstood by many. When it is mentioned we often visualise a stick, a belt , cane or whatever to beat a child with. That is not the case. A 'rod' in the Bible is a symbol of authority. It is usually carried by a king or queen or chief of a tribe. Here in England the Queen and even the House of Commons have a sceptre or rod. It symbolises power, authority and rule. The carrier holds the power which is recognised by all. All who are subjects of that person or institution mentioned above do recognise and subject themselves to it for the good of all. We all do it in some form or another in whatever country we live in (as long as the rule of law is righteous and fair). Those who rebel against it for selfish reasons are challenging the position of the holder and the rule of law and authority which goes with it(which leads to civil disobedience). These actions are dealt with accordingly and far more harshly than we as parents ever would. So, when the Bible says 'spare the rod and spoil the child' it really means that if you do not teach the child to respect, honour and recognise the authority in the home, the rule of law, social expectations etc then the child will grow up in a manner that refuses to accept any authority from anybody, any government, any law etc and effectivly the 'child is spoiled'. Which parent who loves their child wants them to grow up to be a churlish 'yob'. None of us do. So, it is not about using a rod to thrash a child into submission. How we teach our children is up to us and we are responsible for our childrens actions. Some parents just thrash them (which I think is despicable), some don't do it at all and some use it only when it is absolutely necessary, however much they hate to do it. Let us not be quick to judge others. If I truly believe that my child deserves a hiding then I must do it for them because I love them.If I let them grow up believing that it is ok to defy all authority because they want to get their own selfish way without any recourse for their actions, somebody else will punish them later in life when they try the same trick on them and that will break my heart. So, is Dr Dobson right or not? Maybe he has just written what we all think but are to afraid to talk about out loud. His book is not the bible of child-rearing but if it helps in some way to help my child grow up to be a great person who is happy, productive and brings a lot of good into the world, then it is ok for me.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2000

    Great Resource

    This book addresses many of the concerns of parents today. It talks about common sence and your child, disciplines in learning, barriers to learning etc...This is a great resource for parents of children of any age.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 21, 2012

    Life is better with happy children

    I found this book when my children were young. I followed the Doctor's advice, although sometimes it was hard, and ended up with 3 very good children. When my wife and I decided to raise our children according to the advice in the book, we had to spank our children frequently the first 2 weeks. We always explained why we were spanking them, never used our hands and never more than 3 swats on the behind. Especially when they are still in diapers, a swat on the behind doesn't hurt, but makes lots of noise. After the first couple of weeks, we had to spank the children less and less. After about a month, they were seldom spanked at all. The most important thing was to be consistent in their training and disciple.

    Now I am buying this book again for my granddaughter. Her daughter is now about 20 months and soon to enter the 'terrible twos'. This should help her in training our first great grand child.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2009

    The New Dare To Discipline Your Child

    I read the original book back in the mid 1980's when my middle child was out of control. Today, he is a very polite, respectful hard working young man. He has a nice family and he knows that sometimes when defiance is an issue, a little force goes along way. I carried the discipline over for my youngest child and he never gave me the trouble that the middle one started too. I intend to give this book to my daughter who has a four year old who is totally out of control. I know he is out of control because he has never been told "no", but, they need to get control of him now before he starts school next month. I know it will take them time, but his screaming and crying everytime he has to do something he doesn't want too is awful. Inclluding staying with the family during an outing, sitting down to eat a meal in a restaraunt or going to church or using the potty! He needs to get under control NOW! I am sending my daughter this book as soon as I can.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2008

    School administrator of 25 years

    As a grade school administrator of the past 25 years, I have seen consistently positive results---happy, well adjusted children---for those who adhere to the Biblical principals Dr. Dobson teaches in this book. First Rate!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2008

    This book is written by a real piece of work

    'The New dare to discipline' seems to be written by a man who has a few screws loose. The fact that hitting of BABIES is condoned in this book should be a person's first clue that the author is a real piece of work. Babies do not need to be hit, especially with an object that can cause serious injury. Anyone with children would be very wise to take this book with a grain of salt.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2008

    This Book Has Great Ideas For Discipline

    I found this book to be very helpful when my children were young. It has good ideas about how to handle situations in public and at home. It helps the child-parent relationship.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2008

    Get back to basics

    BH This book saved my son, 20 years ago. Today he is a well-rounded respected firefighter in the US Air Force. Had it not been for this book, my son would have ended up as a criminal. I now recommend this book to all mothers with children. Those bashing Dr. Dobson, should never have children themselves, as clearly they are the reason we have so many problems with our youth.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2008

    Great Book

    This book has wonderful, biblical teaching that will help any parent to properly train their little ones. How many times has a parent failed to get a child's respect because they have listened to the world above God's Word? We love our children, and that is why we train them this way, not with our knowledge but with HIS--our Creator. 'He disciplines those He considers sons.' And we should imitate Him.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2007

    Discipline means to train or instruct

    Our children are gifts from God. We are responsible for teaching them. The advice that Dobson gives is in line with the Bible. The Commandment 'Obey your Father and Mother' is stressed as the main objective to teach your children. Dobson says if they don't learn respect for you, they won't respect authority figures in adulthood. In his book, New Dare to Discipline, Dobson has his principles and priorities straight. His teaching is with much love and care for children and their future.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2007

    A reviewer

    I read this wonderful book 31 years ago when my first born was 6 mo old and I have applied all Dr. Dobson had to share to both my children. I raised well behaved, wonderful children who were incredible even through their teenage years because of the advice given in this book, I am now purchasing this book for both of my children to raise their children by. Thank you Dr. Dobson

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2007


    If you want to learn how to abuse your children and feel good about it, read it. Horrible, horrible book.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2007


    I borrowed this book from a neighbor (thankfully I didn't waste my money on it). This is the most horrific book I have ever read regarding the discipline of children. I can't believe the Dr. advises to begin spanking as children as young as 15 months. It is incredible that he also condones spanking a child who doesn't stop crying soon enough after being 'disciplined'. I am horrified that some parents actually buy into this method of child rearing. This Dr. cleary is not an advocate for children and does not have their best interest in mind, his only focus is on the comfort of the parent (if a child is crying, hit him or her because they are annoying you).

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2007

    Child abuse

    Discipline is loving guidance, not corporal punishment, where the child in a demeaning way wrongly learns that violence is acceptable and a communicative form in society. Besides, look up the word discipline and you find no definition about spanking. Children are children: They need a safe place to explore their boundaries where parents act as wise parents. Why spank a child when they do not even know what is right from wrong? It is our job to guide and teach them, not punish them. Christians should know better that 'spare the rod, spoil the child' from Proverbs in Old Testament is not current any longer. Remember- With Jesus comes a better way, a new law: The New Testament. Jesus does not spank the children. Jesus says 'Let the children come to me'. Better books on child discipline: ¿The Happiest Toddler on the Block¿ by Dr. Harvey Karp ¿The Discipline Book¿ by William and Martha Sears ¿Caring for your baby and young child¿ by AAP (The American Academy of Pediatrics) ¿The Irreducible Needs of Children¿ by T. Berry Brazelton, MD, and Stanley I. Greenspan, MD. ¿When your child drives you crazy¿ by Eda LeShan ¿Loving your child is not enough¿ by Nancy Samalin 'The Case Against Spanking: How to Discipline Your Child Without Hitting' By: Irwin A. Hyman John Wiley & Sons / 1997 / Paperback

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2007

    New Dare to Discipline

    This book really helped me to understand my son's real needs and to identify signs of defiance. To discipline with love works ! He just understood that his parents are in charge and that he has to obbey because we know better . As usual Dr Dobson didn't dissapoint me . I have recommended this book to some friends and they've all thanked me for it .

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