Diana Lang

Induction can be used to help youth develop empathy,[1]  guide their behaviors, take ownership of their actions, learn acceptable behaviors, and understand how their actions may impact themselves (self-centered induction) and others (other-oriented induction).[2]

How to use this method:

a young girl riding a bike with her head turned looking behind her
Figure 1. Riding a bicycle in the road can be dangerous, but explaining that to a child requires patience and understanding. (Photo Source: Pixabay, Pixabay License)

When you have a child’s full attention:

  • Explain how one’s actions can affect themselves and others (positively and negatively).
  • Use a child’s actions as an example to discuss and recommend expectations for acceptable behavior.
  • Model desired behaviors for a child to imitate.
  • Use others’ actions as examples to discuss and assess how behaviors can impact others’ feelings.
  • Encourage, discuss, and reward desired behaviors.
  • Explain and discourage undesirable actions.
  • Be consistent and proactive by communicating expectations, discussing outcomes, and identifying feelings related to behaviors on an ongoing basis.

Children reared in an environment that uses this approach tend to have higher moral reasoning, internalized standards for behaviors, prosocial skills, and resistance to external influences when compared to their peers who have not been exposed to this technique[3].


  • If a child is taking a sibling’s toys, a caregiver can explain, “When you take your brother’s toys, it causes him to feel sad and that you do not like him.  How might you feel if your friend took your bike out of our yard without asking you?”

Key Takeaway

  • Induction is used to help children understand how their behaviors affect themselves and others, take ownership of their actions, and guide them to engage in acceptable behaviors.

  1. Krevans, J., & Gibbs, J. (1996). Parents' Use of Inductive Discipline: Relations to Children's Empathy and Prosocial Behavior. Child Development, 67(6), 3263-3277. doi:10.2307/1131778.
  2. Heath, P. (2013). Parent-child relations: Context, research, and application (3rd Ed.). Pearson.
  3. Bannon R.S. (2011). Inductive Parenting. In: Goldstein S., Naglieri J. A. (eds). Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development. Springer, Boston, MA.


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