Every parent needs some alternatives to spanking to discipline your child. In 47 countries around the world, it is illegal for a parent, teacher, or anyone else to spank a child, and 124 countries prohibit corporal punishment in schools. Yet in all of North America, physical punishment by a parent, as long as it is not severe, is still seen by many as necessary discipline, and condoned, or sadly, even encouraged.
For the past several years, many psychiatrists, sociological researchers, and parents have recommended that we seriously consider banning the physical punishment of children.
An ABC poll found that:
Sixty-five percent of Americans approve of spanking children, a rate that has been steady since 1990. Among parents with minor children at home, 50 percent report that they sometimes spank their child, while 45 percent do not.
According to a study published in the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics, there are serious consequences to applying physical punishment to kids.
Harsh physical punishment is associated with increased odds of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse/dependence, and several personality disorders in 2% to 7% of those observed.
Parents who use physical punishment are directly teaching their children that physical force is an acceptable way to get what you want. If we want less violent adults we have to bring them up believing that physical force is not acceptable.
So, what do you do instead? Here are some great alternatives to spanking to discipline your child.
1. Get Calm
Take a few deep breaths or have a glass of tea.
2. Take Time for Yourself
Parents are more prone to use spanking when they haven’t had any time to themselves and they feel depleted and hurried.
3. Be Kind but Firm
Make eye contact, touch him gently and tell him, in a kind but firm voice what it is you want him to do. For example, “I want you to play quietly."
4. Give Choices
Giving your child a choice is an effective alternative to spanking.
5. Use Logical Consequences
Consequences that are logically related to the behavior help teach children responsibility. Compare that situation to a child who breaks a neighbor’s window and his parent says, “I see you’ve broken the window, what will you do to repair it,” using a kind but firm tone of voice. The child decides to mow the neighbor’s lawn and wash his car several times to repay the cost of breaking the window. What does the child learn in this situation? That mistakes are an inevitable part of life and it isn’t so important that he made the mistake but that he takes responsibility to repair the mistake. The focus is taken off the mistake and put on taking responsibility for repairing it. The child feels no anger or revenge toward his parent.
6. Do Make-Ups
When children break agreements, parents tend to want to punish them. An alternative is to have your child do a make-up. A make-up is something that people do to put themselves back into the good graces of the person they broke the agreement with.
7. Withdraw from Conflict
Calmly say, “I’ll be in the next room when you want to talk more respectfully.
8. Use Kind but Firm Action
Instead of smacking an infant’s hand or bottom when she touches something she isn’t supposed to, kindly but firmly pick her up and take her to the next room. Offer her a toy or another item to distract her and say, “You can try again later.”
Spanking and abuse could almost go hand in hand, considering that a parent who uses spanking as a form of discipline will more than likely (not always) continue to use it and may eventually not be able to control themselves.
Gentle instruction, supported by a strong foundation of love and respect, is the only truly effective way to bring about commendable behavior based on strong inner values, instead of superficially "good" behavior based only on fear.