How to Discipline a Child Effectively Without Spanking

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Parenting is both a challenging and rewarding experience. As with any job, it requires a complete set of "tools" to be effective. Choosing not to spank your child can be especially difficult if you were raised otherwise (as most people were). Follow these steps to discover various techniques that you can use alone or combine in order to become a more effective parent.

Choose not to spank. This may seem obvious, but there is a world of difference between choosing to spank under certain circumstances and declaring to yourself and others that you will never spank your children.

Forgive yourself if you have spanked in the past. You can only rely on what you know. Now that you are learning a different technique, it is time to move forward instead of dwelling in the past.

Let your immediate family know about your decision. Apologize to your children if you feel the need.

Learn about childhood development. If you know what your child can feasibly understand at any given age, you will be better prepared to know when discipline is necessary and when it's best to just ignore certain behaviors.

Research the diverse techniques

Natural and Logical Consequences. The basic concept behind these twinned methods is to let nature run its course in most cases (natural consequences) or provide a logical consequence when there is no natural consequence (as in the case of sibling A breaking sibling B's toy when sibling B is far younger) or when the natural consequence can be too dangerous (such as the case of a child trying to run out in the middle of the road).

Positive Discipline. A technique that sees misbehavior as an opportunity for teaching new behaviors. Also includes setting positive examples in the way you, the parent, act, and eliminating negative language (such as "don't do that" and changing it to "Why don't you do this instead).

The Reward System. Intended as a supplement for other methods of discipline, the reward system focuses on ignoring any 'non-harmful' misbehaviors (such as when your child insists upon your immediate attention whenever you are on an important phone call) and going out of your way to praise positive behavior (for example, the child is cleaning his or her room without hardly getting nagged).

Combine the techniques as situations warrant. For example: You may "catch your child being good" (reward system) when he or she plays nicely with a sibling. Later that day, you could let him or her leave a toy out when you know it's going to rain (natural consequences). After the child has learned the toy is ruined, you could show him or her how you organize your things (positive discipline).

Keep at it. As with learning anything new, no-spank techniques can be difficult to master.

TIPS

If you are a parent who has previously spanked, you may notice a worsening of behavior before it gets better. This is normal as your children are simply testing whether or not you will spank them. When they realize you won't, their behavior will improve in about a week or so.

Some examples of natural and logical consequences:

Natural Consequence: If a child leaves his toy outside it will get lost or ruined.

Logical Consequence: If a child A breaks child B's toy, then child B gets one of child A's toys.

Natural Consequence: A child leaves his or her umbrella at school. The child will get wet the next time it rains.

Logical Consequence: A child keeps running into the road. The child will not be allowed to play outside.

Recognize that you will slip up. Forgive yourself and move on. Everyone has a bad day and no one is perfect.

Children learn by parents' examples. If they do not get spanked by parents, the child will not hit when upset with their peers. A child will relate spanking to hitting.

Spanking one sibling because they refuse to relinquish their toy to the other sibling can cause resentment between the two siblings. Teach them to take turns, but also understand and allow more time if the one still wants to play with it, by agreeing that they can wait a few minutes, and then it's the other's turn. You will find that they will gladly turn it over willingly by waiting a little bit longer.

Warnings

Your spouse may think you're insane or completely disagree with you regarding your decision. If this is the case, say something along the lines of "Why don't we try it out for a month, just to see what happens?"

Don't expect these techniques to work on their own. You need to be an active participant in your child's discipline. Sometimes this means getting off your tookus and turning off the TV if your child won't listen.

Be wary of online discussion groups and forums as they easily turn into debate sessions.

Never Give Up Hope

Remember there is always help out there should you need it, never be afraid to ask for it has this will only show that you are a caring parent.

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