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How To Discipline Children Without Spanking or Hitting Them: Parenting Tips Methods and Solutions That Work!

Updated on January 24, 2014

Raising Respectful Children Should Be Fun!


Is There a Way To Discipline Children Without Spanking Them?

Yes there is! Many of us grew up in an era where we were spanked when we misbehaved. In fact, spanking children is mentioned in the Christian Bible that supports such behavior as long as it doesn't result in abuse. But are there ways to get children to respect us instead of fear us?

So how can we rear our children to behave and become respectful? This is perhaps one of the oldest questions humans have asked over time and many cultures have different beliefs. Here are some effective ways to deal with children when they act up.

Communication With Children

Although we probably don't give it a lot of thought, how we communicate with our children paves the way for our relationship with them over time.

Are you a "Yeller"? Do you easily get aggravated and raise your voice to your children when you get angry? Many parents have learned that children respond better to your discipline when you are calm and controlled. When we yell at our kids we are teaching them to get loud when they get mad. It is the same principle as hitting children when we are angry: We send them a message that it is OK to hit someone when we are mad.

Let's look at an example. Johnny comes home from school with a letter from his teacher because he hit another boy during recess. You read the note and you get very angry! You start to yell at little Johnny and since he doesn't seem to take it seriously, you give him a whack on his behind!

Stop there! You just hit Johnny because he hit another kid? Isn't that a double negative and doesn't it teach the same behavior that you are trying to change? Fighting Fire with Fire Does Not Always Put Out The Fire!

All Children Are Different!


Effective Communication

The most effective ways to communicate with your children are to sit down with them calmly and discuss what is expected of them and the consequences of their own actions and words.

By allowing the child to make their own decisions you empower them to have self control and they will realize that they control whether or not they will get into trouble depending on their choices.

Here are some Keys to Maintaining Open Communication with Your Children:

  • Respect Goes Both Ways. You will never raise a respectful child who does not feel respected themselves. Talk to your children the way you would want them to talk to you. When you are angry and you yell they will learn this behavior and do the same. Children learn more from our own actions than they do from our words.
  • Start When They Are Young. You should start when children are just at the age of being able to understand that their actions have consequences. This will ensure that communication and your expectations are understood from the start.
  • Talk To Them, Ask The How They Feel, and Support Their Feelings! Too many parents raise their children with the idea that "I made you so I can make you do what I want you to!" This is the wrong attitude to have if you want children to respect others. Respect is earned and taught!
  • Understand That No 2 Children Are Alike! How many times have you heard the phrase, "I wish you were more like your brother..." This is not only degrading to the child but it takes away their sense of autonomy and self worth. Acknowledging the differences between your children and playing on their individual strengths rather than their weaknesses goes a lot farther when communicating with your children.
  • Remember: No One Is Perfect! Don't forget that you were once a kid yourself and you have made your share of mistakes along the way! Life is a journey and there is no definitive guide for being a good parent or person.
  • Allow and Encourage Them To Be Themselves! Sometimes as parents our kids don't act, say, or feel the way we wished they did. That's OK! Think of how boring life would be if everyone was the same. Our children are the future and the world is made up of different personalities that create different ideas. Encourage your children to be unique and allow them to be themselves.

Communicating Effectively with our children will teach them how to communicate with others, be open-minded, and will allow them to feel comfortable when talking to you. This will be a great asset as your children get older and will make the transition into the teenage years much easier!

What's Your Opinion?

Do You Spank Your Children?

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Children Respond to Rewards for Good Behavior!


Setting Up a Behavioral System Based On Rewards and Sanctions

The single most important thing you can communicate to your children are your (realistic) expectations of them. Children do well in a structured environment and when they know what is expected of them they tend to want to impress their parents.

By setting up a system of Rewards and Sanctions, children not only know what is expected of them, but they will know the consequences and rewards for the choices they make.

Remember when you were in Kindergarten and you received a "Gold Star"? How did that make you feel? I bet you couldn't wait to run home an tell your parents about this huge accomplishment!

Here are Some Ideas for How To Set Up a Reward System:

  • Have a Family Meeting. Sit down and discuss what your expectations are of your children. Have them write it down and form a contract.
  • Create a Responsibility Chart by writing down daily, weekly and monthly expectations. This will allow the child to see visually what is expected of them and will allow them to monitor their progress and keep up with their goals.
  • Reward Them as they accomplish their goals. This is not to say that every thing they do they should get a reward, but if one of the goals is to make their bed every day, they can get a special treat at the end of the week when they succeed. It could be as simple as eating ice cream!
  • Sanction (I avoid the word "Punish") Their Negative Behaviors. This is the hardest part about parenting but it must be consistent. When your child misbehaves or does not accomplish what is expected of them we must take something of value away from them. Taking away Computer and Television time are very effective as that is often what kids value the most. "Time-Outs" work wonderfully for young children. The best way to moderate a time-out is by the child's age. For example, if your child is 5 years old, the time-out should be for 5 minutes, and so on.

Using these Guidelines can be beneficial for parents and children alike. You will have a plan that was created by everyone involved and children are more likely to follow the plan if they are involved in creating it.

Every family will have a different plan based on expectations and each child's abilities and needs. Listening to your children is the best way to communicate with them! They just might surprise you!

Over the Years...

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More Articles About Children

The following articles were written by J.S.Matthew for parents who want to raise intelligent and respectful children.



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    • J.S.Matthew profile imageAUTHOR

      JS Matthew 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you everyone for sharing your comments and experiences. I have been away for the last 2 months because I moved and also my computer crashed! Hope to be back on the train soon!


    • Attach profile image

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the hub. Violence begets violence. So important for parents to be educated on the negative impacts of spanking (and not just thinking its ok because their parents did it and they "turned out fine".)

    • Nyamache profile image

      Joshua Nyamache 

      6 years ago from Kenya

      Parents should befriend their children. Engage children in dialogue and once children know that their parents are able to discuss with them freely any matter bothering them, then they will open up. Parents will be able to tell and advice them what is good and bad. Amazingly children will follow the advice of their parents, unlike when parents use a stick as the only way of punishing their children in order to correct their bad behaviors.

    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 

      7 years ago from Aurora

      Thanks. Spanking teaches chidren that violence is OK.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      JS, this is a beautiful hub. Spanking a child is never the option. A child learns by watching his parents from a very young age and almost always follows the behavioural example set down by his parents. A cool calm atmosphere develops a child into a calm & composed individual.

      A regular conversation and dialogue with children is absolutely essential during their growing years. This helps to iron out any issues they are having on a day to day basis and the need to even raise one's voice will not arise. Just a firm no in most cases will ensure compliance and peace from the child if you are right about any issue that is a bone of contention.

      Voted up, awesome & useful.

    • Rusticliving profile image

      Liz Rayen 

      7 years ago from California

      I never had the opportunity of raising kids of my own. However, I was a foster mom for awhile in Hawaii and had over 60 kids at my home 3 times a week. What I did notice is that calmness brought results, where yelling did not. I would watch children being yelled at by their parents, get dropped off for rehearsals, we would have a fabulous time, no yelling, very productive work. When the kids were picked up, the yelling resumed and I saw a totally different child leave then what just spent the afternoon with me. Communication, calmness, and unconditional love and understanding always worked for me. Fabulous hub JS. Very inspiring to everyone, not just parents! Voted up! Lisa

    • J.S.Matthew profile imageAUTHOR

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you everyone for sharing your personal experiences and opinions! When you become a parent you don't get a guide. You go by instinct and what you have been taught. I appreciate all your comments!


    • Brittany Daniel profile image

      Brittany Daniel 

      7 years ago from Cary, NC

      I agree that there are many alternatives when it comes to discipline. However, what happens when parents have differing opinions on this? My husband has always been the one to spank, but I do not. The girls are 8 and 9 now, and are very rarely in need of discipline because they are so well-behaved. But, the oldest tends to test her limits (which is to be expected), and has even challenged me by asking "Oh, well what are you gonna do?" The fear of a spanking (note, not the fear of a parent), though long in the past, weighs more on her mind than anything I'd do to correct her actions.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      7 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Great information. I will say that my daughter only got a spanking once. She was just walking and decided she was going one way when I wanted to go another. She dropped down in the floor and started throwing a fit. She, her diaper, got a spanking. She never threw another fit. I alwlays told her I would never say... "Because I said so!" If she wanted to know why she couldn't do something, I explained it to her. We talked A lot! I think there is a time and place for both.

    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 

      7 years ago from Aurora

      Still an idea of interest to me. But, willow switches and flyswatter misswings leave way to brutal marks!

      Such marks can cost a parent their parenthood, at worst.

      I still hate the way parents scream at kids in the grocery store. All those idiotic commercials make kids think they need Cap'n Crunch or some cereal with a moronic toy inside.

      More hub material for bad immoral advertizing!! Any takers?

    • Reves-diary profile image


      7 years ago from Dhaka

      Thanks for your inspiring hub. Hope this article is going to help some parents as they do not approach nicely with their kids. Being strict can not help to make their kids discipline.

    • Drtruthman profile image


      7 years ago from Harlingen, Texas

      Only when my kids were very young and it wasn't more than a love tap. I do believe there is far too much abuse and of course spanking is in most cases a learned behavior.

      Those of us who did it, even mildly, did so because our parents spanked us. I ceased doing it because I realized there were other alternatives and as a Psychologist I learned behavioral modification could be performed without spanking. Great article. I voted UP all across except funny.


    • J.S.Matthew profile imageAUTHOR

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hello joe322! Congratulations on your recent arrival! I am glad that this article is useful to you as a new parent. There is a lot of great information about Parenting on HubPages. If you haven't already done so, check out the Family and Parenting Topic Page for lots of great articles on this subject:

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


    • joe322 profile image


      7 years ago

      Good suggestions and at the right time. I recently had my son and am looking into how to discipline him without being physical along with other related topics, some of which were also touched upon.

    • J.S.Matthew profile imageAUTHOR

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @Laura in Denver: Hi! I find that many parents do lightly spank their kids when they are diaper age but it really is best to avoid it. I can relate to being sent to my room. It happened to me quite often and it allowed me to read as well! My older sisters hated it though. Thank you for sharing your experience!


    • J.S.Matthew profile imageAUTHOR

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @Paradise7: There are many effective ways to raise a child without hitting them. I know that some parents hit their kids because they get frustrated but that is the worst reason to do so! I appreciate you adding your tips and experiences to this article! Sometimes we do need to restrain our children particularly when they are young and go through the "tantrums" phase. Thanks for the insightful comment!


    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 

      7 years ago from Aurora

      I confess, that when my children were really young, I gave tham a small pat on their diaper. They wailed so much, it was unreal! Mama is not happy was conveyed, but then I hugged them (two girls four years apart).

      Once out of diapers, they were sent to their rooms when they misbehaved. Because they then had the gift of speech.

      Perhaps I was wrong, but to get the attention of a non-speaking child is difficult. Once diapers came off, out of the question to do this.

      My Mom, God bless her soul now. swatted us with a flyswatter. Not a problem unless the metal part hit! Or it was "Wait until your Father gets home". Hours of agony and fear!

      Sending me to my room was just fine--I would read something until punishment was over. My older sister went berserk when sent to her room! Me, no prob which made it more difficult for Mom to get my attention. See, I was reading at age four, since sissy was two years older.

      Perhaps I should write a hub on this--sissy constantly had to be outdoors. Me, confinement to my room meant reading time! No prob!

      I love all children, but sometimes you need to get their attention. Once diapers were off, time out or other loss of privilidge. No flyswatters, thank you!

      I always checked on the litter buggers, too. Water, food, I never sent a child to bed hungry. Love 'em.

      So soon they are gone. Precious shildren.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Excellent! I couldn't agree more, you don't really need to hit your child. I think the reason parents DO hit their kids isn't to discipline the child as much as it is because the child is driving the parent crazy and doesn't seem to listen at all, when the parent insists that the kid quit whatever behavior is driving everyone batty.

      The way to handle it (the better way, in my humble opinion) is to restrain the child from doing whatever it is, physcially if you have to (hold the child firmly by the arms, or place a hand over the child's mouth, making sure the child isn't getting hurt in the process), or by removing whatever object(s) they're using to make noise, for instance.

      Once you've fully got the child's attention and the child has been restrained from doing whatever, then is the time to talk very firmly (without yelling), explaining that there really is more than just the one person in the world, and other people have to be considered.

    • J.S.Matthew profile imageAUTHOR

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @sandrabusby: I agree that children are precious gifts and we should treat them as such. Thanks for stopping by!


    • J.S.Matthew profile imageAUTHOR

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @independentwriter: Thank you for sharing your personal experience on this topic.


    • sandrabusby profile image

      Sandra Busby 

      7 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

      Our children are such precious gifts, and we should treat them as such. Thanks for SHARING. Sandra Busby

    • independentwriter profile image


      7 years ago from the Snowy Northeast

      Interesting thoughts on discipline... When I was growing up, I was spanked and had a very healthy fear of mom and dad. They were the final authority in my household. I credit the discipline, I received growing up to my success as an adult.

    • J.S.Matthew profile imageAUTHOR

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hello roxanne459! It's great to hear from people that try to modify their children's behavior effectively, without hitting them. I know it can be hard as a parent sometimes when we get angry but it is worth it in the end! Thanks for your comment and votes!


    • roxanne459 profile image

      Roxanne Lewis 

      7 years ago from Washington

      I too am not a fan of spanking. I just don't see evidence that it works. As parents, I feel as though we are raising adults so my kids get consequences for their actions. These could be good or bad depending on their choices. Thank you for writing this, there are some awesome suggestions and very logical points made. Very interesting and easy to read! Voted Up and Awesome! ;)

    • J.S.Matthew profile imageAUTHOR

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hello RealHousewife! You're right that hitting a child sends them the message that it is OK to hit when angry. Kids will copy whatever we say and do and if we are hypocrites they will see that and loose respect for us. I think that when they are toddlers it can be OK because it will deter them from danger as you said, like going near the stove or electrical outlets. Once they start talking it is time to move into the next phase without hitting. Fortunately your daughter learned her lesson the hard way without getting seriously hurt! Thanks for sharing your experience!


    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Hey JS - I do not spank for the very reason that I fear it does give the kid the idea that it's ok to hit someone if your angry enough! I think it sends a confusing message. The only time I did spank a child is when they were toddlers and did something that was potentially dangerous.

      I remember smacking my girls hand for playing with the electrical outlet. (She was about 1 year old) I guess it didn't help really though because a few days later - I am not quite sure what she did - but I heard her yelp and I ran in the room and she was pointing to the socket and babbling very fast baby talk and pointing at it as she stumbled away. For months after that she would walk WAY around that plate and babble and look hatefully at it. She never touched it again either:) Too bad that scolding and hand smacking didn't make a good impression huh? lol

    • J.S.Matthew profile imageAUTHOR

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Ardie and Happy Friday! When I was growing up we got spanked mostly if we were fresh. My parents are good people and were just raising us the way they were raised. The worst wasn't our parents it was the Nus in Catholic School! They used to hit us with rulers and make us do weird things. One time I got caught picking my nose (I know, eww!) and I was forced to sit in the corner and wear a Dunce Hat! I am not making this up! A lot has changed in Catholic Education since the 80's and I don't think they discipline like that anymore. I am still a Catholic and it is because of this that I don't think spanking children is beneficial.

      A lot of kids throw out homework. One time I moved my son's dresser and there were literally over 100 papers he was hiding! We starting checking his school agenda on a daily basis and he soon began getting his work done. He doesn't play video games during the week and that seems to work well as he is a straight "A" student now. Thanks for sharing your experiences!


    • Ardie profile image


      7 years ago from Neverland

      I dislike spanking and I don't see the benefits of it. I have had the parental slip where I reached down and swatted my little one's bum and the broken-hearted look I got from my daughter was enough to make me never do it again! My kids know what punishments are around here. Just tonight I caught my daughter throwing away homework papers (again!) she didn't want me to see and I asked her "Do you remember what happens when you sneak to throw away your poor homework papers?" She said "Yes - I lose priblidges"- hey, she's only 7 hahah Great Hub JS :) You have an adorable beautiful family!!!!!


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