Disciplining kids remains an incredibly touchy subject as people tend to differ on what approach to take. One on end of the spectrum are those who believe in corporal punishment (flogging, spanking etc.) while on the other end are those who believe in leaving things to their own devices (i.e. letting the child grow out of their bad behavior organically). In reality, there are many shades of grey and one can find a way to discipline your child that’s firm yet understanding.
This method is based on the belief that children learn via operant conditioning. According to the rules of operant conditioning, behavior that is positively reinforced is often repeated whereas behavior that is punished is generally avoided (McLeod, 2015). As such, hitting a child for poor behavior will eventually condition the child to avoid such behavior.
Many have criticized this punishment method for promoting violence and childhood trauma. While flogging a child may prove to be dangerous if done with too much force, there are options that will allow for some compromise.
For one, this mode of punishment must be a last resort and be must be opted for in only the most extreme situations.
According to an article penned for the website “Focus on the Family”, there are 7 key steps to discipline your child by spanking:
- Issue a clear warning that the bad behavior will lead to punishment if repeated
- Ensure that the child can admit to their bad behavior by making sure they understand what they did wrong
- Find a private place to spank them if they continue to repeat the behavior. Finding a private place can help reduce embarrassment for the child and parent
- Let the child know what they have done to make you upset
- Use a wooden spoon or something of the same nature and flick your wrist. Use enough force for the spanking to hurt but not too much to where you may injure the child
- Ask the child to seek forgiveness for the bad behavior
- Ensure that the child knows that you love them unconditionally
Authors such as Mccready (2016) argue that creating some sort of structure and following certain rules each day can help regulate the child’s behavior in the long run.
The key steps to this method include:
- Keeping their attention – children tend to behave poorly when they are bored or when they are seeking attention. As such, playing with them or spending one-on-one time with them each day is crucial.
- Train them – this step includes helping children learn how to make good choices. Here, the parent may role-play as the child and mimic how the child should behave (e.g. saying please, thank you etc.). Conversely, the child may assume the role of the parent guiding them on how to make better choices.
- Setting limits – during this step, it is important to establish a set of rules (not to extensive). If these rules are broken, then the child may be punished (e.g. if the rule is that the children should be in bed by 8 pm then failure to do so may lead to revoked TV privileges for a weekend).
Tips and Tricks
Some other tricks that moms use to discipline their kids (as obtained from “Parents” magazine) include:
- Offering an incentive – for instance, to get your child to perform an action such as going to bed early, you may send them to bed with an empty bag, if they comply then there will be a treat in the bag when they wake up.
- Negotiate – if a child asks for something, you can promise to provide it to them on the condition that they do another activity first (e.g. you may have some ice cream but only after you pick up your toys)
- Ignore tantrums – when a child decides to throw a tantrum walk away and wait nearby, once they realize that they are not getting the desired reaction out of you then the tantrums will cease.
- Teach them to communicate – when a child throws a tantrum, express how they are feeling out loud (e.g. you are upset and frustrated because I won’t buy you the toy car), this teaches them to express themselves with their words instead of throwing a tantrum
- Give them chores each time they squabble – you can assign chores to children each time they squabble. Eventually, they will learn to stop fighting as it leads to undesirable consequences
- When grocery shopping, you may assign the kids different roles (e.g. finding the needed items and putting it in the cart). This keeps them from acting up at the grocery store.
- Naughty corner – the child may be asked to sit quietly and alone in the corner of the room and think about their behavior. The child may only come out of the naughty chair when they are ready to take accountability for their behavior.
- When a child begins to whine or raise their voice, you may place a timer on the table and ask them to only resume speaking once the timer goes off. The idea is to encourage them to communicate in a calm voice once the time is up.
- You may revoke certain privileges (e.g. Wi-Fi and phone privileges). This will discourage the children from behaving in a way that may rob them of their privileges.
- You can let natural consequences play out. For instance, if a child continues to throw their food on the floor without a grown-up intervening, then they will realize that their action simply means that they have no more of the food left. In the long run, such behavior will not be repeated.