All kids need discipline but when hitting is involved, you could be inflicting more damage than you’re fixing. It’s possible to raise your kids without raising your hand. Here are some tips to keep things under control so you don’t lose your cool.
1. PREVENTION – Probably the most effective alternative to hitting a child is prevention. By creating a “child proof” environment, where things are out of reach, children are less likely to get into trouble.
2. SHOW DISAPPOINTMENT – Let the child know that you are disappointed in his or her behavior. Explain what your expectations are. Make sure he or she understands right from wrong and what the rules are. Explain the consequences if the inappropriate behavior continues.
3. TAKE AWAY A PRIVILEGE – If a child misbehaves after being warned, a privilege such as watching television or playing on the computer can be taken away or restricted. Other privileges include playing with a certain toy. Never withhold food.
4. GIVE A “TIME-OUT” – Sending a child to his or her room is not an appropriate “Time-Out.” Instead, select an area that is isolated from others, such as a certain chair in the corner of a room or hallway. Make sure the child knows why he or she is being given a “Time Out” and how long it will last.
5. CATCH THEM BEING GOOD – Whenever a child does something good (helps set the table, brush teeth, speaks politely, etc.) be sure to react with praise and other forms of acceptance of those behaviors. The more parents respond positively, the less likely children are to misbehave.
6. CREATE A CONTRACT (especially with teenagers) – Write down what you want your teen to do (clean up his/her room, etc.) and indicate what you will do in exchange (stop talking about his friends that you don’t like, etc.). Be specific in indicating what you want to see and what you will or will not do. Sign the contract.
7. BE EMPATHETIC – In words and actions, show your children that you understand the difficulties they are facing (other kids calling them names, the loss of a pet, etc.). Feeling understood helps children feel good about themselves, and such feelings lessen the times they misbehave.
8. TAKE A PARENTING COURSE – All of these alternatives to hitting children have fine tuning points, which are best learned with other parents who are trying to do the best for their children and create harmony in the home. Take the time and effort to sign up for a parenting skill-building course at your church, college, school or local agency. It’s the best continuing education you can get and it sets a great example for your children.
Let’s give our children the same right to be free of physical punishment that we adults have been reserving for ourselves. Human beings – young or old – are not for hitting.