Child Discipline Campaign Overview and Evaluation



Campaign Resources


In 2014, background research was completed to guide the Best Start campaign on child discipline, including:

  • Interviews with 18 experts in the field of child discipline (Canada and United States).
  • An environmental scan and review of evaluation data of other campaigns on the topic of child discipline.
  • A literature review of best practices regarding child discipline to help define effective strategies.
  • A parent survey to assess parents’ attitudes, behaviours and needs regarding child discipline.
  • A needs assessment of service providers who work in maternal child health.

An advisory committee of key stakeholders and experts in child development was formed to guide the campaign.

Campaign Goal

To reduce the prevalence of physical and emotional punishment of children from birth to age 6.

Campaign Objectives for Parents

  • To increase parents’ understanding of what constitutes physical and emotional punishment.
  • To increase parents’ understanding of the harmful impact of physical and emotional punishment on children.
  • To increase parental awareness of developmentally appropriate behaviour of children from birth to age 6.
  • To increase parental awareness of developmentally appropriate strategies to guide their child’s behaviour from birth to age 6.
  • To increase parents’ intent to use developmentally appropriate discipline strategies to guide their child’s behaviour.

Campaign Objective for Service Providers

To increase service provider access to, and use of, evidence-based resources for parents, in French and English, to support developmentally appropriate child discipline strategies.


  • Mothers, fathers and other primary caregivers of children from birth to age 6.
  • Service providers who work with parents and other primary caregivers of children from birth to age 6.

Key Messages

  • Physical and emotional punishment of children is not acceptable or effective.
  • Children need warmth, understanding and support from birth on.


Children see. Children learn.   /   Les enfants voient. Les enfants apprennent.
This slogan emphasizes the importance for parents to role model healthy relationships with their child.


Main Strategies (all French and English)

Many resources were used in this campaign. For information on ordering or downloading campaign materials, go to Campaign Resources.

  • The website  with 8 videos in French and English. Four of these videos provide examples of parents using positive discipline methods to deal with everyday situations with their child. These videos include interviews with experts and cover the following age groups: 1 year old, 2 year old, 3 year old, 4 & 5 year old. The other four videos document interviews with the parents of the children, who discuss their parenting challenges and provide tips to viewers. Links to additional resources and programs for parents are provided.
  • A ready-to-use workshop (duration 1-2 hours), derived from the videos above, for use in parenting services. Copies were distributed to Ontario Early Years Centres, public health units and other parenting programs.  
  • Television and radio public service announcements with a message stating that physical and corporal punishment is unacceptable, and directing viewers to the above website for alternatives. These public service announcements can also be disseminated through social media.
  • A growth chart with positive discipline messages, for use by parents. Copies were distributed to parents by childcare providers and health care providers, Family Health Teams in public health, Ontario Early Years Centers, and other parenting programs.
  • A series of parent tips that can be used in social media or newsletters, directing parents to the website. Letter-sized posters containing these parent tips were distributed to public health, childcare centres, healthcare providers, Ontario Early Years Centres and other parenting programs.
  • Complementary tools provided to service providers to promote the website (display for events, articles, graphics).
  • Training sessions offered to service providers to help them convey the messages to parents.

Creative Guidelines

  • Materials developed are strengths-based, emphasizing what parents are doing well, and acknowledging the challenges of parenting.
  • Fathers, mothers and other primary caregivers are depicted in videos and other components.
  • Additional efforts were deployed to reach fathers: over-representation of fathers in videos, field-testing with fathers, public service announcements using male role models, etc.
  • The materials represent different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.
  • The French and the English video clips are authentic (not dubbed or subtitled).
  • The literacy level of all components is suitable to reach the general population.
  • Since time-outs are frequently used by parents, the videos show ways to do time-outs in a positive manner (i.e., involve a conversation, a “time-in”).
  • All materials are compliant with the Baby-Friendly Initiative (no bottles or soothers shown).
  • All baby and child equipment shown is compliant with Health Canada safety guidelines.


  • During the first nine months, nearly 28,000 individuals visited the English website and 7,000 people visited the French website. A majority of these individuals (68%) were male.
  • During the same period, the English public service video message was seen on the internet nearly 18,000 times and the French message nearly 70,000 times. A lot of sharing also took place through social media. These messages have also been televised regularly across Ontario.
  • Through the online assessment, 91% of participants indicated that this website was useful or very useful for parents.

Development Team

This campaign was developed with input from the following professionals.

Saleha Bismilla


Healthy Babies Healthy Children Manager

Toronto Public Health

Carl Brisson



Institut Valor

Gaëtane Drolet


Community Health Worker

Centre de santé communautaire du Grand Sudbury

Dr. Joan Durrant

Professor, Department of Family Social Sciences

University of Manitoba

Sandy Inkster

Early Literacy Specialist for Muskoka,


Dr. Chaya Kulkarni

Director, Infant Mental Health Promotion,

Hospital for Sick Children

Dr. Heidi Sin

Public Health Nurse

York Region Public Health

Brian Russell


Provincial Coordinator

Dad Central Ontario

Kimberly Vandermeer


Early Years Development Worker

Somerset West Community Health Centre

The Best Start Resource Centre also thanks the many parents and service providers across Ontario who provided input on the website, or participated in the development of the videos.         


For additional information on this campaign, please contact:

Louise Choquette, Bilingual Health Promotion Consultant
Best Start Resource Centre
1-800-397-9567, ext. 2276

Wendy McAllister, Manager
Best Start Resource Centre
1-800-397-9567, ext. 2279