A study published in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics discovered a link between adult-onset mental health disorders — including substance abuse and anxiety — and childhood physical punishment — including spanking — thereby begging the question: How should parents discipline their kids? Here are 11 more options:
1. Prevention. Too often, parents focus on finding the perfect consequence for unacceptable behavior after it happens, hoping to prevent it in the future. Or, they threaten their child with the consequence that will occur if the child does not comply.
Much of the time, children are defiant because they naturally resist parental demands. Phrasing a demand in this way can avoid many power struggles: “After you brush your teeth, we can read the story you got from the library today.” “When your homework is done, the computer will be open.” “As soon as you’re dressed, pancakes will be served.” —Nancy Bruski
2. Options. Offer a clear choice of two acceptable behaviors. For example: “You can put away the blocks or the books. You choose or I choose;” “You can do your homework before snack or after snack. You choose or I choose;” “You can talk in a respectful voice or you can go to another room. You choose or I choose.”
Children who delay decision-making need the additional phrase, “You choose or I choose.” Others can make a choice easily when presented with clear options. By offering two acceptable choices, the child feels more in control, yet the options are actually being set by the parent. —Nancy Bruski
3. Warnings. In situations in which a child continues to exhibit a particular unacceptable behavior, and it is clear to him/her that the behavior is unacceptable because the parent has talked about it many times previously, making that a “no warning behavior” is useful.
The parent tells the child he/she knows the child can avoid that behavior, and at the same time he/she explains to the child what will happen if the behavior occurs. The parent then intervenes without warning or reminders if it happens again. For example, name-calling with siblings: “I’m so sorry you chose to call your sister a name again. You need to be in your room now. I’m sure you’ll remember to find better words next time.” —Nancy Bruski
4. Self-awareness. The key is to teach our kids to understand how their actions lead to certain results. You can do this easily through communication with your child at any age by asking how he/she feel about themselves when they do things that are either positive or negative.
By continually asking your child to reflect on how his/her actions make them feel, your child will become more self-aware of how his/her choices create certain feelings about themselves and the outcomes he/she created. —Julie Kleinhans
5. Empathy. Teach empathy. When my friend’s five-year-old son threw sand into his sister’s eyes last week, the immediate response was a spank on the butt.
Spanking erodes self-worth, leading the child to think that he is “bad” which then brings up feelings of anger and resentment of himself and others. This ultimately leads to behaviors in the future that reflect the self-image he now holds of himself. 5 Effective Alternatives To Spanking Your Kids
When we teach our kids empathy, they will see how their actions impact others, causing them to reflect on their own actions rather than placing their attention on anger and the self-loathing they feel due to the spanking. —Julie Kleinhans
6. Escalation. Don’t escalate the energy. When a child does something unwanted and a parent reacts by escalating the negative energy of the situation (yelling, spanking, etc.), an emotional trigger and anchor is being programmed into the child’s neurological system. This means that the child becomes ‘wired’ to overreact to situations, therefore taking away the fundamental tool of being able to pause and reflect on their actions. Anxious Parenting: Are You Guilty Of It?
By overreacting to things your child does, he/she learns to be reactive rather than consciously aware and emotionally balanced. We want our kids to be more conscious of their decision-making rather than acting out unconsciously, which is what leads them to those behaviors that are triggering the parent to get angry in the first place. —Julie Kleinhans
7. Fathering. I can’t tell you how much easier parenting would be if men would simply pony up, whether married or not, and be the dad!
Dads are essential to a positive upbringing and by being a dad, you allow the mother to do what she feels is natural, and that is being a great mom. Her nurturing nature is always there, and it needs the protection and comfort to help raise the child that a dad can bring. —Jack Hatfield
8. Reading. Did you know that 93% of people never crack or read another book past high school? As parents, you can help your child have a lifelong love of reading by doing some yourself!
Read at night, pick a book and read several chapters before bed together, it is like a movie series where all of you can get interested in the outcome together! — Jack Hatfield
9. Role models. No matter how hard your day went, remember, that what you are seen doing will be making an impression on your child. Yes, you sometimes get away with “Do as I say,” but in the long run, your child will mimic your behavior.
Sitting at the dinner table with good manners will provide your child a life of happy moments not causing stares and whispers. —Jack Hatfield
10. Home stores. Providing your child with money for doing chores is great, however, if you are doing that, make sure you provide the child a store at home with pencils, candy and such, and ensure that there is always something more expensive in the store than what he/she gets weekly.
Let the child visit the store with allowance money every week, and if he/she really want the high priced item, your child will have to work harder for more money, or save what he/she has and put off the purchase. Eitherway, a valuable lesson learned! —Jack Hatfield