Like a lot of people my age I was spanked as a child.
It was the way most of us were raised.
I am emotionally strong and naturally resilient.
I made friends easily. I succeeded academically. I minded my parents without creating too much conflict in the home.
I likely cried and yelled more than typical children because I am a passionate person, but I got over my frustrations quickly.
I turned out just fine like many of us, but some children did not grow up to be just fine because they were spanked
Yet I have grown up to believe that spanking is not an effective form of discipline.
I highly doubt I would have ended up in prison if my parents had chosen not to spank me. The vast majority of those incarcerated were disciplined with corporal punishment, and it didn’t keep them from a life of crime.
See I believe highly sensitive children and children with special needs are more likely than typical children to suffer long term negative consequences when spanking is often used as a form of discipline.
Spanking is not the best choice for those children.
Susan Case, my guest author, shares many other more positive alternatives than spanking a child.
Better Than Spanking – Prevention & Consequences by Susan Case
We know a big person should not hit a smaller person. Adults must set the example for good behavior.
Therefore, you do not spit when you want a child to stop spitting; you do not yell when you want a child to stop yelling; and you do not hit when you want a child to stop hitting.
Years of emotional scarring and damage can result when a child is mistreated by an adult, whether verbally or physically.
11 Alternatives to Spanking to Prevent Inappropriate Behavior
- Rules at home are necessary with rewards and consequences. A simple weekly behavior chart, or monthly calendar, can work wonders. Let your child make a happy or sad face indicating their behavior at the end of every day. Or they could place a sticker on the well-behaved days. When they have accumulated a predetermined number of happy faces or stickers, they will have earned a reward. Money is not necessarily the best ingredient for a reward. Children want praise and one-on-one special time with a parent such as going to the park or library, reading a book together, baking cookies, or playing a game outside. I was humbled when my daughter’s kindergarten teacher told me that Sarah’s favorite thing to do with me was to play with her dollhouse. No gasoline or extra money was needed.
- Observe children and anticipate problems before they escalate. Young children need to be supervised.
- Ignore misbehavior if appropriate. Perhaps an unhappy look from you is all that is necessary.
- Warn children of transitions such as the end of play time or going to another location.
- Concentrate on shaping positive behavior. Compliment and use lavish praise when children have good behavior and actions.
- Use your voice, hands, facial expressions, and actions as tools to maintain control and to prevent problems. When things are going well, your voice can be soft, natural, and casual. When you sense a need for more control, your voice can be firm and say, “Take it easy now. Slow down.”
- Help children use words instead of force: “Tell her what you want.” “Think about what you are doing.” “Be careful. We don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
- Limit time children spend in front of electronic gadgets. Real back-and-forth communication and interaction is necessary for growth in vocabulary, expression, comprehension, and social skills. Pre-approve electronic games checking for violence, disrespectful attitudes, or words and actions that you do not want your child to imitate.
- Structure the environment to support appropriate behavior. Young children need action. They need time for hard physical play to release stress, learn social skills, develop motor skills, and to just be a kid. Children learn from using blocks, paint, crayons, scissors, glue, Playdough, water, sand, puzzles, swings, and natural outdoor materials. Young children need activities that are just right for their age. The goal is for children to accomplish what they can do. Hands-on discovery, using the five senses, enhances the joy and meaning of learning and extends the learning time.
- Treat children with unconditional love. It is the behavior that is unacceptable—the child is loved no matter what has happened.
- Allow children to experience logical consequences. Consequences should be established before problems occur. Be firm and stick with the plan. They will become better prepared to make the right choices when you are not around.
Children learn by their actions, including responsibility.
Consequences do not need to be dehumanizing, demeaning, humiliating, or full of nagging and scolding.
Three questions to ask when delivering a consequence are:
- Is it justified?
- Is it respectful?
- Is it reasonable?
“No means no. I don’t argue with children. I’m the adult.”
The more this is repeated, the better it works. You can use empathy, but stick to your plan.
Perhaps the child is mature enough to understand the reasons why you have said no such as weather, money, time, or health concerns. Regardless, they need to know that you mean what you say.
If your child has opportunities for many fun, educational, interesting, and engaging activities, they will have fewer behavior problems.
Remember this phrase too: Every day, tell your child that you love them and you will hear the most precious words in the world, “I wuv you too, Mom.”
For more tips see my books: Kindergarten: Tattle-Tales, Tools, Tactics, Triumphs and Tasty Treats for Teachers and Parents and The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn.