By Dr. David Gilchrist
Department of Family Practice, Reliant Medical Group
Fortunately, most parents understand that spanking isn’t the best way to discipline their children. Most experts believe that it can be damaging to children in the long run and not as effective as other methods of discipline. Spanking also gives children a mixed message when we tell them not to hit but a parent then spanks them. As a parent of four children, having other tools to discipline my children and help them learn is extremely helpful. Here are some great alternatives to spanking that every parent should know:
Take Away Privileges
While the sting of a spanking goes away in minutes, taking away a privileged item can have a much longer-lasting impact on a child’s behavior than physical punishment. Other privileges that you could consider taking way for discipline reasons are television-watching, video games, favorite toys, or fun activities that your child enjoys.
Place Your Child in a Time-out
This method is one of the most effective ways to discipline your children plus it often helps them calm down. Time-outs are effective because kids hate to miss out on activities and that usually makes them want to behave better in the future.
Offer “Linked” Consequences
Sometimes kids struggle with specific behavior problems, like not eating dinner because of too much snacking. A good discipline for this would be not allowing your child a snack before bedtime if they don’t finish their dinner. Or, if your son or daughter refused to pick up their toys after playing, don’t let them play with their toys for the rest of the day. Linking the consequences of the behavior to the punishment helps make it more effective.
Reward Good Behavior
Parents spend a lot of time and effort pointing out when our kids misbehave. As a result, we may not be taking advantage of the impact that rewarding good behavior can have. Rewarding children can help motivate them to engage in better behavior and help them realize that bad behavior does not pay off in the long run. If your children are not getting along well or otherwise misbehaving, set up a reward system to encourage good behavior.
Allow Natural Consequences
Sometimes it’s important to allow children to learn from their mistakes. If your son refuses to study hard for a test at school, let him go in that day unprepared. Check in later with him to see how the test went and try to have him link the behavior of not studying with the result of the test.
Teach New Skills
While it may not always be possible in the midst of a temper tantrum or challenging interaction with your child to teach them how to manage their emotions, using these situations as learning opportunities can be really powerful. When we ask our kids to reflect on how the problem could have been solved differently, we are teaching them a valuable life skill. Teaching our children how to manage emotions and compromise will also give them other tools to use when they are upset.
About David Gilchrist, MD
Working with a local doctor in medical school put Dr. David Gilchrist on the path to becoming a family practice physician. “I was paired up with a long-time family physician at the site where I was training,” he explains. “The way he practiced instantly clicked and made sense to me…the way he took into consideration the entire family when examining a patient’s health. I soon realized that was the way I wanted to...View profile View posts by this doctor
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I am a father of 3 kids between the ages of 10,7,and 5. It’ is challenging to manage these ages because they feed off behavior from peers at school and TV shows. I try re-enforcing my position on acceptable behaviors and expectations daily. I do not subscribe to spanking, but More often than not find myself raising my voice when a repetition of the unacceptable is obvious; which I equally find unhealthy. I do embrace the tools you have shared. Hopefully utilize them going forward.