Top 10 Ways to Discipline without Spanking

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To Spank or not to Spank…

This is an age-long debate. It’s become controversial in many quarters. And now, since I immigrated to a land that frowns at spanking, I had to research alternatives to spanking that works well and even better.
Well, personally…I was spanked and I turned out right. However, others who were spanked still didn’t turn out right.
There were particular things for which my mom hit me for, and till date I would never repeat them. For example, interrupting her discussion with someone else unnecessarily, not greeting or greeting properly and not clearing my plate of food and returning same to the sink. Mind you, I had the most wonderful and loving parents of all time. They molded me into the good things I am today, and I am so grateful to them for the discipline they gave me.
I am a firm believer of this: ‘Train up a child according to the way for him/her and when he/she grows old he will not turn aside from it’.
We need to remember that discipline doesn’t have to be punishment, it’s only a way of training, to reinforce good behavior and correct misbehavior.
Kids are becoming ‘sophisticated’ and ‘aware’. Times are changing, so we might as well revisit our parenting strategies. As for me, I am a balanced disciplinarian, I employ ‘tomato-staking’ parenting style, and it’s has been producing good results. I am not the ‘leave her, she is only a child’ kind of mother….no way.
It seems that by spanking a child for a misconduct, we are teaching that it is alright to use physical force on someone when we don’t approve of their conduct. And some researchers have claimed that there are results to prove that spanking a child teaches violence and may cause depression in the ‘victims’ later in life.
What gets me thinking is: Is my child wondering, ‘Why is it OK for mummy to hit me but not OK for me to hit my sister or hit mummy, even? Well, I am a mummy. That explanation would suffice for me, when I was a child, but I doubt if it will make sense to these our ‘digital’ kids.
Well, a typical African woman may not agree with the results of the above mentioned studies. However, it is worth a while to note that there are time-tested alternatives to spanking.
So if you ever feel the need to hit your child, try these 8 things instead, and maybe you may like to share your results with us in the comments section.
  1. Impose a time-out – It may be a ‘no-toy’, ‘no-TV’ time. That can be a type of punishment instead of spanking. Placing a child in time-out teaches them to take control of their behavior and get it right. It gives them an opportunity to calm down and reflect on what disobedience or stubbornness had caused them.
But for time-outs to be effective, there should have been plenty positive time-ins spent with the parents. Such that when the kids are deprived of the time-in, it will be discomforting and serve as a deterrent for future misbehavior. But personally, I find that this tactic loses its potency as the child grows up. So of course, you need to keep reviewing your strategies as the kids develop and depending on your circumstances.
2. Set Rules and Maintain Consistency – Say it and mean it. Ensure it’s done and don’t give in or give up. For instance, you want your little one to watch his hands, say it clear, and what if he refuses to do so and you have repeated yourself severally. Try not to spank him, say it again and insist it’s done. You can lead him to the sink and he knows that mummy means business.

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Use your normal voice, try not to shout or yell. … I know what you are thinking, it is not easy when your hands are full, and you have more than a child to care for. I know! I am in exact same shoes!
Setting rules is an important part of positive discipline. It helps when you set effective limits for children. It supports childhood development. When children know that you are in charge, they feel safe and secure. So don’t think you are doing them a favor by being lax with rules, No.
Setting clear and effective limits supports children development. Involve the kids in making the family rules, it helps them feel part of the rules and they will be more inclined to live by it. Also it helps the parents make rules that are realistic, taking into consideration everyone’s circumstances and abilities. In turn the kids feel more responsible for their actions because after all, they now understand the rule making process and the consequences of defaulting. That is not to say that you and your children are colleagues in the parenting business, NEVER, but it only makes for smoothness of the process.
However, it is always more loving to have more do’s than don’ts. E.g. sit down to eat, wash hands once you return from school, wear seatbelt in the car, speak politely, never hit your sister, turn off bedroom lights at 7pm, don’t watch TV during school days, never touch the matches, don’t play in the kitchen, brush your teeth twice daily, greet properly, put away the after playing, don’t play with your pen or pencils, don’t pick your knows…..
Oooouch it’s like my don’ts are becoming more than the do’s….lol
Do whatever it takes to make sure, your kids are enjoying this time with you. It will soon fly away. Make it fun memories that will sustain you and them, when eventually it’s time for them to leave home.
  1. Take Away Privileges – Taking away privileges is a good way to discipline kids. You can take away watching of TV, a fun activity, visit to friends, playing of video games or favorite toy. You can also send the child back to his room, away from where the fun is or the rest of the family is (of course, different settings requires different strategies). Set a time limit, the duration of the restriction, and this depends on the activity restrained and age of child. For example, you can say ‘you can’t play outside until you tidy up your room’. Taking away privileges, also helps the kids appreciate the law of consequences. Employ the principle of natural consequences too, when you think your child will learn from his own mistake. Monitor the situation to ensure that your child won’t experience any real danger.
  2. Don’t pick on all misbehavior – Kids will be kids, sometimes, they are simply seeking attention, or feeling frustrated and they act it out in form of tantrums or stubbornness. Their insistence to do the wrong things are sometimes misguided attempts to fulfill a need they think they have. Older kids are learning too become adults, so they may sometimes try asserting their existence and pushing a few things around. Try and be understanding, remembering your childhood days helps a lot.
Pick your battles with the kids, it’s not worth it to try to correct them at all times. Sometimes, I try to press an imaginary ‘Ctrl Ignore’ key in my head, especially when my 3 year old is whining and I will attend to her, when she calms down and says things more nicely. However, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore serious or grossly inappropriate behavior.

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5. Reward Good Behavior – Oh yes, our kids can be very caring, respectful, dutiful and cooperative. But we tend to take it for granted. It is right though to commend, speak openly or even reward good behavior. I try to set incentives for good behavior in my home depending on each child. My oldest son, doesn’t like to di dishes. So if he greets others well, cleans up his room or does something commendable, I praise him and he earns time off from doing dishes. He really looks forward to being free from washing plates and the reward system motivates him to work at being of good behavior.
This works for me, when I have to help my two friends babysit their kids till they return from home. It can be a challenge being with 7 kids of nearly same age at the same time. And my own kids tend to break all our house rules when in company with other kids. So what I do is to give the most attention, incentive and praise to the child who is behaving well. Then, when another child begins to behave well too, I praise and give him attention as well, and in time, they will all start trying to be good kids to earn my attention and reward. I find this more calming than having to yell, ‘keep quiet’, stop jumping’, sit tight’, stop fighting and so on and so forth.
6. Take a deep breath – Take a moment, step back, take a deep exhale, count 1- 10, put yourself together, and come back professionally ready to tackle the misconduct. Hesitate from giving in to anger or hitting the child, as a quick-fix to the problem.
Has it ever happened to you that you spanked your child for a misbehavior and regretted doing it or regretted the intensity with which you did? Oh yes, it has happened to me several times that I had to stop letting it happen. Sadly, some parents even spank their child more after arguing with spouse, or after a hard day, as if to transfer aggression. I know this is usually not intentional, but you can avoid it by doing the no 7 tip.
  1. Take care of yourself, de-stress from time to time – When stress build up, especially in an over-worked mother, she will easily flare up and may resort to spanking to get the kids to give her space or stay calm for her. When you are worked up, worn out, tired, exhausted, you seem to be in a hurry to fix kids misbehavior, and in that mood, everything ends up in a mess and you feel sad, thereafter.
So plan a time off from work and family duties, take a trip to spa, massage center, or just go to a nice beauty salon, relax while having a pedicure. Or sit in front of the TV, enjoying your wine, chapman, or any of your favorite drinks, watching a soft nice program (I prefer listening to ‘not – too – old’ school jamz), just taking a break, or hang out with friends. Or take a walk, go to the gym, relax in your bathtub (I actually do ‘self’ soakology), or have fun with your spouse.
Replenish your mental strength, yes you really need to…and see how different your reaction to kids ‘troubles’ will be. Sure, your negative emotions will melt away at least a bit, you will be calmer and more calculative.

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  1. Give clear and specific instructions – Kids will be kids and even if they are not, they cannot read minds. It may be too early to expect them to be able to read between the lines. So be sure, you are not assuming that they should know what to do and what not to do. Say it and say it clearly. Be specific in what you’re telling them to do.
Instead of saying what they should not do, try letting them know what they should be doing. Sometimes, I get the feeling that my kids are confused and are really trying to please me, but not have success doing so. So make it easier for them to obey by coming out clear when giving directions.
‘Example: Your toddler is standing on a chair. He may have been told not to stand, but he hasn’t yet fully learned not to. Telling him to sit down instead of yelling at him to get off the chair or to stop standing on the chair will resonate clearer with your child’.
9. Keep them engaged – Kids have energy, they are bobbling with so much energy that needs to be spent. So I think of inexpensive ways to engage them depending on their ages. Try indoor games, coloring, using colored tapes to make car tracks, building ‘london bridge’ with spaghetti, baking, gardening, hopscotching with them (I really miss this), dressing up dolls, drawing, playing with sand, building snow man, flying paper kites, making rainbow bubbles, reading story books, educational games and many others. We will appreciate more suggestions in the comment section. After such activities, the kids are happier, better behaved and ready to rest up as well, so it’s a ‘win-win’ for everybody.
Provide them with toys to encourage them not to play with things they ought not to play with. Change and exchange their toys frequently with friends who have kids (if this applies in your area), so as to keep them excited. If they are of age, teach them or arrange to have them learn new skills e.g. playing piano, guitar, baking, sewing, knitting, crocheting, bead making, drawing, painting, gardening etc.
10. Love them all – Yes just love them. They are like flowers, tender blossoms…. they need love, lots of it.

Featured Image by Diddy Nadhiri from Pexels

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