When most of us were little, smacking (also known as spanking) children was still common practice. However, subsequent research has shown it’s really not an effective way to manage a child’s behaviour. Smacking or spanking has fallen out of favour as a discipline technique. Parenting expert Liat Hughes Joshi looks at other discipline methods that work without resorting to hitting your child. Spanking gives the impression that when we don’t approve of someone’s actions we can use physical punishment. It can cause resentment and fear of you the parent.
1. Come up with a behaviour management plan so you won’t smack in the heat of the moment
Some parents smack because they don’t know what else to do when their blood pressure’s rocketing at their little one’s misdemeanors. One of the most important pieces of advice I give to parents is to have a strategy in mind when it comes to managing behaviour, to prevent these knee-jerk reactions and limit the chances of resorting to spanking.
2. Star charts and reward charts
A Supernanny favourite, Reward Charts are brilliant to spontaneously reward your child when they do the right thing or are especially kind or helpful, and to deal with a specific issues such as potty training. You can buy or make a chart – if you're making your own, why not involve your child in decorating it?
When your son or daughter shows the desired behaviour, give them a star for their reward chart immediately so that they make the association between what they did well and the star. Once they’ve achieved their target number of stars, bingo! They get a reward. This could be anything from an outing at the end of the week to an extra story at bedtime.
3. Naughty step/ time out Rewarding is effective but we still need to discipline when children behave badly or else they realize they can get away with it. This classic Supernanny technique is a great way of calming things down if they’re shouty or being aggressive. It gives your child chance to reflect on what they’ve done wrong.
To make Time Out work, give your child a warning when they’re misbehaving – this needs to be clear and you should use an authoritative, calm voice. Explain what they’re doing wrong briefly and in appropriate language for their age and warn them that if they don’t stop, they’ll go to the naughty step (or whatever your equivalent is).
4. Removal of privileges If you can understand what motivates your child, it works well to then use this to encourage optimal behaviour. For many children nowadays, this will be screen time. So employ this to your advantage and reduce their TV/ Internet allowance if they don’t follow house rules.
Other variations on this are cutting older kids’ pocket money or setting up special privileges that are specifically designed for discipline. You could start a weekly film evening and let your child pick the film but only if they have behaved well that week, or cancel the film session altogether if they’ve been really below par.