In the ever-evolving world of parenting, the topic of discipline is one that never seems to lose its relevance. One particular aspect that has been under the microscope is spanking. While many of us, as parents, may have grown up with spanking as a common form of discipline and turned out just fine, recent studies suggest that there may be long-term consequences to this approach. In fact, a study published in Pediatrics found that children who are spanked tend to exhibit more aggressive behavior later in life. This has led many parents and experts alike to explore spanking alternatives.
Personally, I believe that every child is unique and what works for one may not work for another. However, it’s crucial that we, as parents, have a variety of tools in our discipline toolbox. This way, we can respond effectively and compassionately to our children’s misbehavior, teaching them valuable life lessons without resorting to physical punishment. In this article, we’ll delve into some effective spanking alternatives that not only promote better behavior but also foster a loving and respectful parent-child relationship.
A recent study was published in the by the National Pediatric Association showed that children who are spanked when they are 3 (or older) are more likely to be more aggressive in kindergarten and throughout life than those children who are not spanked. While many of us that are currently parents grew up getting spanked and turned out okay, a poll done on how parents feel about spanking showed that more ten 80% feel it is appropriate, the National Pediatric Association disagrees.
Personally, I think that there is a time for a child to be spanked, though it is only ever a last resort and it is in response to a child putting themselves or someone else in harm’s way. I also believe that there are better options and many spanking alternatives that we as parents have to not only discipline our children but teach them as to why what they did was wrong.
Spanking Alternatives Parenting Tip One: Remain Calm
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If you are angry it is going to be difficult for you to remain calm to explain to your child what it is they did wrong and why they are in trouble. Believe it or not, children don’t always know or understand why they are in trouble. So you need to be calm enough to explain it to them. Remaining calm and collective is an important skill in learning how to discipline a child without yelling or hitting.
Tip Two: Make Sure You Have “Me Time”
As silly as this sound, parents who don’t have the opportunity to take time for themselves tend to be quick to react to a tense situation by spanking your child. I know as a mother of 3 (ages 15 to 16 months, wife, and home based business owner) that life can sometimes get in the way of us taking time for ourselves. You don’t need a day… or even hours… one hour or 15 minutes where all you do are focus on you. Listen to music… drink a cup of coffee really slowly… take a hot shower. It will help you put things in perspective.
Tip Three: Kind… but Firm
Parents also tend to spank when their child hasn’t listened to them after repeatedly telling their child not to do a particular thing. Next time you are in this situation consider getting down to your child’s eye level, put your hand gently on his or her shoulder and tell him or her what it is you want them to do in a kind but firm tone. Look, sometimes it isn’t that they aren’t listening to you, they don’t know what else to do. Dr. Michele Borba recommends teaching your child an alternative to the behavior you want them to stop.
Tip Four: Offer Choices
As I said in the above tip, sometimes it is really a matter of not knowing what else to do that lands a child in trouble and on the verge of getting a spanking. So offer them options, for example, if you are at the dinner table and your child is playing with their food you can say, “Would you like to stop playing with your food and eat dinner or would you prefer to go to bed hungry?” Empower your child to make the decision… and then explore the consequences of their choice.
Tip Five: Make Sure the Consequences are Logical
One of the most effective spanking alternatives is to make sure consequences are logical. This is important if you really want to change a particular behavior and teach your child responsibility. Let’s say that your child breaks the car light on the neighbor’s car while playing baseball in the cul-de-sac… you spank him/her… exactly what is your child learning from that? I know, you are thinking that he will learn not to do it again. Yes he probably will, but he will also learn that if he doesn’t want to get hit when he makes a mistake, he needs to hide that mistake. Instead say to your child, “I see that you broke the tail light on the neighbor’s car… what are you doing to do to repair it?”
Tip Six: Make Agreements with Your Child
If you and your child have an agreement and your child breaks that agreement, give them the chance to get back in your good graces with a “make-up” instead of punishing them.
Tip Seven: Step Away from the Conflict
It is normal for a child to sass back to a certain extent. There are times though when that sass can cause you to react with a slap. Instead of engaging in the behavior by arguing with your child, turn and look at your son or daughter and say, “I will be in the next room when you are ready to talk to me respectfully… until then you can stay in your room.”
Parenting is one of the biggest challenges you will ever face, but you need to know that it is also one of the most rewarding. All parents try to do their best raising their children and sometimes we need a little help looking for better options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is spanking an effective method of discipline for children?
According to a study published in Pediatrics, children who are spanked tend to be more aggressive in kindergarten and throughout life. While some parents may believe in spanking as a last resort, there are other methods of discipline that can be more effective and less harmful.
What are some alternatives to spanking when disciplining a child?
There are several alternatives to spanking. These include remaining calm and explaining to your child why their behavior is wrong, ensuring you have “me time” to avoid reacting out of stress, being kind but firm with your child, offering choices to empower your child, ensuring the consequences of their actions are logical, making agreements with your child, and stepping away from the conflict when necessary.
How can parents remain calm when disciplining their children?
It’s important for parents to take time for themselves, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day. This can help put things in perspective and allow parents to react calmly and effectively in tense situations.
How can parents teach their children to understand the consequences of their actions?
Parents can offer choices to their children and allow them to experience the consequences of their decisions. For example, if a child is playing with their food at dinner, a parent can ask if they would prefer to stop playing and eat, or go to bed hungry. This empowers the child to make the decision and understand the consequences.
What is the importance of making agreements with your child?
Making agreements with your child can help establish trust and understanding. If an agreement is broken, instead of punishing them, give them a chance to make up for it. This can help foster a sense of responsibility and accountability in your child.
In the journey of parenting, we are constantly learning and adapting. The discussion around spanking and its alternatives is a testament to this evolution. As we’ve explored, there are numerous spanking alternatives that can be effective in teaching our children about consequences and responsibility. From remaining calm and explaining the situation, to offering choices and stepping away from conflict, these methods can help us guide our children towards understanding and growth.
Remember, as parents, our goal is not just to discipline, but to teach. It’s about helping our children understand why a behavior is wrong and guiding them towards making better choices. It’s about fostering a relationship built on respect and understanding. So, the next time you find yourself in a challenging situation, I encourage you to consider these spanking alternatives.
Parenting is a journey filled with challenges and rewards, and while it’s not always easy, it’s definitely worth it. Keep exploring, keep learning, and remember, you’re doing a great job.
Be sure to check out: 7 Strategies for Effective Time Outs
Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse with over 12 years medical experience. As a mother of two incredible children with one on the way, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting and the joys and changes that take place during pregnancy. Together we can laugh and cry and rejoice in the fact that we are moms!
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