How To Discipline Your Kids (WITHOUT Spanking)
It's that moment when your 3 year old is having a category 7 tantrum in the middle of the department store, your 5 year old refuses to clean up their toys after being asked multiple times, or your 7 year old is mouthing off. You need to do something. You want to do something. You are starting to lose your cool. In this situation, if you don't have a plan, you may end up spanking your child.
I would like to start this article out by stating that I am not against spanking as a form of punishment for a child. While I prefer to try not to spank my children, I can certainly see situations where it is warranted. I do not judge those who do spank their children, as I wholeheartedly believe there are many different ways to parent. I have (on rare occasion) spanked both of my children. After each time that I did, I got what I like to call "spanker's remorse." It's that horrible feeling in your gut, when you wish you would have dealt with the situation differently. I decided I wanted to avoid that feeling, which led me to further explore discipline options for children.
I attended a parenting seminar that focused on discipline. It gave me some great tips, which I will now pass along to all of you.
Give Rewards For Good Behavior:
The easiest way to avoid having to spank a child, is to work on eliminating the behaviors that cause spanking in the first place. Kids thrive on praise from a parent. Be sure that you do not ignore good behavior. The more you reward and encourage it, the more often they will be willing to engage in it.
Do Not Punish All Bad Behavior:
Children need attention from their parents. Often times kids will act out simply because they know it will turn your head. If you are able to ignore some of the minor bad behavior, while at the same time, rewarding good behavior, you will be able to show them that good behavior is always the right path to choose.
Have Rules... and ENFORCE Them:
It is common knowledge that kids thrive on routine. They love to know what is expected of them. If you have a clear set of rules in your home as to what is or isn't acceptable, you may notice that your child is more likely to follow them. Likewise, when they don't follow the rules, be sure to dole out proper punishment each time to ensure they connect the cause and effect with their negative behavior.
Nearly every time I have spanked one of my children it has been because I lost my own temper. At the parenting seminar I attended, it talked about keeping calm when your child is misbehaving. Try taking three deep breaths before you say or do anything to your child. With each breath say (either your head, or out loud). "I am calm." "I am relaxed." "I can handle this." It may sound silly, but I cannot tell you how many times this technique has saved me from spanking one of my children.
Chose An Alternative Punishment:
After you get past your urge to spank, carefully chose an alternative method of punishment. Try to chose one that is age appropriate. It is hard to expect a toddler to stay in a timeout, let alone derive meaning from it. Perhaps for younger kids, it is easier to try distract and/or redirect their behavior. For older children, try to have the punishment fit the crime. If they were fighting over a toy, perhaps the toy gets taken away. Time outs can be very effective for older children, especially if after the timeout is over, you have them state why there were placed there and give an apology for it.
As with many other areas of parenting, consistency is truly the key. If your child knows what is expected of them, and what punishment will result from not maintaining appropriate behavior, they are more likely to follow your guidelines.