If spanking is counterproductive, what works better? Try a combination of prevention, positive reinforcement, and non-physical discipline.
- You can create a home where it's easier for a child to be well behaved and productive, and where you are less tempted to resort to spanking. Be clear that you are the parent who ultimately sets the limits and enforces the rules. But explain and negotiate, as well.
- Teach your children how to talk about their feelings, rather than act them out in misbehavior.
- Try to anticipate stressful situations and develop ways of handling them before your child's behavior gets out of control.
- Monitor your own levels of anger and be aware of what may trigger angry responses.
- Be patient. Remind yourself that young children need lots of repetition before they can understand and remember what they are supposed to do.
- Express affection regularly.
- Try to be consistent in your parenting.Children learn more about good behavior from being told what they're doing well, rather than what they're doing wrong. Take time to praise and encourage your child, when she's doing a good job and behaving well.Non-physical discipline
- Explanations and reasoning are always the first line of approach, but they need to be appropriate for the age of the child.
- Distraction is helpful with young children. Bad behavior may quickly end if the child can find a better alternative.
- Verbal reprimands and reminders work best when they focus on the problem behavior. Emphasize what's wrong with the action. Don't say "You're such a bad kid!"
- Time outs provide a space for breaking out of a cycle, calming down, and trying again.
- Grounding and loss of privileges should be a final recourse. If explanations and reminders aren't working in a particular situation, a child needs to experience logical consequences for misbehavior.
We need to stop spanking. We can raise healthier, better-behaved children through non-physical means of discipline. And it may take us a major step forward into a less violent world.
From FamilyEducation.com, September 27, 1999.