5 Viable Alternatives To Spanking Your Child
Spanking, as a form of discipline, is one of the most controversial. While study after study shows that corporal punishment does have a negative, long-term and lasting impact, many parents opt to hit their children to elicit good behaviour, for the short-term at least. A study recently published in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect indicates that spanking does not improve a child’s behaviour. On the contrary, it changes how a child feels and thinks, making her more aggressive. Even when you are faced with a difficult child, there are some alternatives to spanking:
1. Enforce Logical Consequences
It is best to set specific consequences for specific behaviour either before the act or immediately after the act, instead of hitting a child following certain behaviour. For example, 4-year-old Tommy throws around a ball in the house with the potential of breaking something. Instead of beating him up, hold his hand, look him straight in the eyes and tell him that if he throws the ball around in the house, you will take away the ball for the day. Tommy is likely to understand the dire consequences of his behaviour and you as the parent, will have stopped yourself from violently punishing the child’s behaviour.
2. Just Say No, Firmly
If your child is doing something unacceptable, firmly tell him to stop it. This is especially true for toddlers and school-goers who usually need to hear a strong, firm, serious voice before they can understand that you disapprove of their behaviour. It is important that you say “no” as soon as you spot your child misbehaving. Do not wait until the situation is aggravated and you are at your wits end to admonish your child. For example, Charlie is jumping on the couch with his dirty boots. Do not expect him to stop doing it unless you immediately tell him to get out of the couch, to remove his dirty boots and not to jump on the couch with dirty shoes.
Catch yourself in the act and breathe. This is a hard one especially when you are angered by your child’s behaviour. Yet, an effective approach to dealing with misbehaviour is to walk away from it first and then return when you are calm. Calm parenting allows you to deal with situations in a more logical manner. You are also less likely to feel guilty about your actions later.
4. Offer a Rewarding Choice
Parents often resort to spanking because of non-compliance from a child. So, a good way to stop yourself from hitting your child is to elicit compliance. If you have asked your child more than 10 times to put away her toys in vain, perhaps you could say, “Johnny, put away your toys then we can go for a walk or we can watch cartoons.” With an incentive or choices are in sight, Johnny is likelier to comply and you are less likely to blow up on him.
5. Choose Your Battles
To avoid spanking, you might have to revise your expectations and give up being a perfectionist. Children will mostly likely do more than ten annoying things throughout the day. Are you going to punish all these “wrong doings?” Parents who expect 100% good behaviour from their children throughout the day and react angrily to little misbehaviours are more likely to have high stress levels, lack anger management skills and are apt to hit their kids. To keep your stress levels low, choose to discipline the “biggies”- those really bad behaviours that need to be addressed immediately. But be aware that discipline doesn’t entail hitting- withdrawing privileges, enforcing logical consequences, timeouts are great alternatives.