Top 10 Healthy Alternative Discipline Methods to Spanking
1. Spanking teaches children two dangerous lessons: that hitting people is okay and that violence works.
Here are some alternative discipline
methods that you can try that will not harm your children. The
effectiveness of these will vary from one child to the next, and even
based on age, but they should all be tried to figure out what works best
for your child.
2. Spanking destroys self-esteem, damages children's ability to learn and sets the stage for future emotional problems.
3. Children learn good behavior by imitating good behavior and respect by being respected.
This is one of the simplest, and quite likely the best first response to try. If your child is throwing hard toys, for example, take the hard toys away and in their place, give the child a toy that is meant to be thrown, or at least one that is soft and won’t hurt anything, like a ball or a stuffed animal. If they are expressing anger, for example hitting or kicking, place them in a safe area and teach them an alternate means of expressing their anger. You might give them an object that it is okay for them to hit and let them get it out of their system. This will help teach them self control. All humans have violent tendencies, but most adults have learned to manage those feelings. Children, on the other hand, are uninhibited and thus lack the control to avoid these feelings sometimes, so an alternative method of expression should be offered. Regardless of the situation, redirection can be a powerful tool for parents to teach their children what is and is not acceptable.
Removal of ToysFor some children, having a favorite toy or a number of toys taken away is a great motivator. When children value things, it increases the meaning when those things are removed. For example, I used to tell my son that if he left any toys out of his closet when I told him to put them away and I found them out on the floor, I would take them away. Now when I tell him it’s time to put his toys away, he almost always gets every last one of them picked up and into the closet. The possibility of losing them, in this case, has proven to be an effective deterrent to leaving them lying around.
Standing in the cornerGrowing up, standing in the corner proved an effective discipline method for me, although not so much for my stepbrother. I hated standing in the corner, so if I got into trouble to where I had to do so, I would keep my nose in the corner as was expected of me. However, my stepbrother kept taking his nose away from the corner. This caused me to get out of the corner on time, but my stepbrother to end up adding time to how long he would stay there. I would get to go off and play while he was still stuck there. Kids don’t like to be bored so this can be effective.
GroundingWhen I was a kid, grounding didn’t prove as effective as it does for some children. However, I believe that if done right, it would have. My mother had a tendency to ground me for a week, then let me off after three days if I behaved the entire time. This is okay to do once in a while, but not every time because the child grows to expect it and it’s easy enough to be good long enough to get off grounding. If a child is to receive a punishment, they should be expected to endure that punishment for as long as is deemed necessary. I see it as teaching them the same way our criminal justice system works. If a criminal is only on their first offense, and it is relatively minor, they may get out on good behavior. However, if it is more severe or a second offense or more, the person is less likely to be released early. I am a strong proponent of teaching a child much the same way that the adult world works.
In addition, if a child is to be grounded, they should not be confined to a room with a television and video games and all sorts of other fun things. That is not a punishment at all, and entirely defeats the purpose. Parents should ground their children from things that they know are of high value to them in order to get the desired effect.
Early bedtimeIf I even warn my son he is going to go to bed early, he gets fussy. If he continues and actually earns an early bedtime, he really gets upset. However, I always talk with him and make sure he knows what he did in order to cause himself to go to bed early. He usually understands with little or no explanation from me, but I do tend to reinforce it to him. I think it is highly important for a child to understand what they are being punished for, regardless of the circumstances.
Refusal to do fun activitiesOn a few occasions, I have used this technique with my son. I have refused to take him to the park to play when he gets fussy and moody. He doesn’t like it, but he has to understand that he will only do fun things in public when he is behaving himself. The more this is reinforced, the more the child will realize what they have done wrong and that they need to correct it.
extra choresThis is probably more effective for children that are a bit older and understand the concept, although I have used this with my own 4-year-old before. He used to get into his chest of drawers and pull out every article of clothing in it, unfold them and drag them everywhere. One day, I put everything from that chest of drawers into the washer and dryer and then told him to fold them all, every single one. He usually likes to help and doesn’t mind small loads, but he got distracted and frustrated with the large load, and I explained to him why he was having to fold them all. Ever since then, he has never taken the clothes from his chest of drawers without permission.
Paying for things
If your child damages or breaks something, don’t just let them get away with it, and don’t just eat the cost yourself. In serious enough cases, you may need to initially pay for the damage in order to settle disputes with third parties, but regardless of whether it is something of yours that is broken or damaged or something belonging to someone else, always have the child pay for the damage, one way or another. If they are old enough to work and make money, even if they aren’t legal working age but can make a few bucks mowing lawns or something, expect them to do that at least until the debt is paid. It doesn’t hurt for them to be responsible and continue doing these types of things even afterward though.
Visiting Your Local Jail
This one is only recommended for serious infractions, in which you can see the beginnings of your child heading down the wrong path, but for some children, seeing people who are actually suffering the consequences to similar actions to their own may be enough of a deterrent to redirect them. Sometimes, even witnessing consequences before being physically faced with them is enough of a wake up call to jolt a child back off that road. People, like animals, do not enjoy captivity as a general rule, and will do whatever is necessary to avoid it.
Enroll Your Child in Sports or Martial ArtsIf your child’s problems center around excessive energy, unhealthy release of agressive tendencies, or a variety of other factors, sports or martial arts may be an effective way for them to release pent up energy and agression in a constructive manner that is not harmful to others. It may also teach teamwork and cooperation, important skills throughout one’s lifetime.
It is important to teach children appropriate versus inappropriate behavior from an early age, and to reinforce those lessons as much as possible. However, I believe that spanking is counterproductive to this goal, and can even increase aggression and decrease control. The above suggestions are just a few ideas to teach children acceptable behavior without harming them or causing them further issues.
What other discipline methods have you tried using with your child? How effective were they? What other methods have you used or seen used that seem ineffective? Feel free to share.
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