Search here

Monday, December 5, 2016

Alternatives to Spanking for toddlers and Pre-scholars: Gentle Parenting

Are there any alternatives to spanking or corporal punishment for younger children?

Why should I avoid spanking or corporal punishment? How can I get my child / children to listen or obey without spanking them? What are some gentle parenting discipline ideas that work?

Mother and Son Hand print:
Jade and Dominick 
Parenting has its fair share of challenges. Once you get past the initial sleep deprived baby phase (newborn to crawling) you make your way into the hyper toddler and the pre-school phase where you’re constantly chasing a little person around, dealing with the word “NO” and wrestling with little stubborn or rebellious people with a mind of their own.

Parenting, although HIGHLY rewarding and a major blessing, also has its fair share of challenges.

Due to the love we have for our little people, one of the biggest challenging to parenting is discipline. For man (me included) the struggles in disciplining are centered around what discipline measure or means to use as well as the feeling of guilt you feel after or when disciplining (those little people sure do have our hearts wrapped around their tiny fingers).

I have made the conscious decision NOT to spank my son. For more on this as well as the negative effects (short and long term) of spanking, please read “Why I choose not to spank my son: Why spanking is a bad idea”.

In my aim to avoid spanking and any other form of corporal punishment, I have made it my goal to try and test numerous alternatives to spanking. I will list a few as well as some tips on using them.

1. Reward good behavior

There can be no bigger motivation (and no easier one) then rewarding good behavior. Children (especially little ones) thrive on making you happy or excited. This can be seen in them repeating the same action or joke over and over if they see that you find something funny or are amused. They enjoy making you happy or entertaining you.

By showing them how much their good behavior or a certain action excites you or makes you happy and how proud of them you are for it they are likely to repeat it.

You can reward them with stickers (see reward chart) leading up to a little gift or sweet etc. or just by praise and excitement (cheering, hugs and kisses, clapping etc. etc.). Depending on the task being rewarded of course (a small thing like saying please or thank-you – a smaller reward verses potty training or the first night in their own bed – would mean a little bigger reward like a little toy or day out to the zoo etc.

For more information on Reward charts andhow to use them read this well written article on NetMums.

2. Know your child: Avoid - Don’t Instigate

We want to work with our kids and help them be well mannered / good behaved and not set them up for their downfall or sabotage their efforts. For t Similar to a romantic relationship, you wouldn’t want your partner to deliberately “push your buttons” or do / say things to annoy you so that you’d snap and get into an argument or fight.

 Likewise, you and your partner know each other and become aware of touchy topics or “he’s in a bad mood today I better not bring up the fact that the ceiling is leaking again” etc.

Try and work with your little ones in the same way.
Don’t schedule bath time or tidy up time or a trip to the grocery store when you know your little one will be exhausted and grumpy or is a little under the weather. Work around their schedules so that they can have the best chance of being well behaved.
If you know that your little one is happiest or in his / her best mood straight after a nap or first thing in the morning, schedule your “most hectic” or “daunting tasks” for these periods.
Your child is more likely to co-operate during those times.

3. Show your child Real Life Situations 

Whenever the opportunity arises, show your child what he / or should not be doing!
This works so well for me.

When you’re out at the store or at the park and you see another little child have a meltdown, throw a tantrum or defy their parents while your is being well behaved (even if it is just for the meantime) point it out to your little one and show them.

I usually discreetly whisper to my son or point out the other child and say something like “see look that little girl is crying / throwing a tantrum and not listening to her mommy. She’s being a naughty little girl you see? You’re not like that little girl. You’re being so good! What a good boy you are! You make your mommy so proud!” He usually smiles and agrees and I can see the pride and excitement all over his little face. Don’t let the other parent see you doing this though lol

Another way of doing this is while watching TV (whether you’re watching videos or series (like Super Nanny which is an awesome source of advice and help for parenting and disciplining) or a movie – look out for bad behavior and point it out to your little one. It really works wonders for them to see by example what is good and what isn’t. You can also use the same technique for pointing out how good another child is and how well he or she is listening to their mommy etc.

4. Use Teddy / Toy Role play

This works quite well too. For some reason I have noticed that my son listens better to his Teddy at times then he does to me lol. There are times when I will ask him to do something and he will delay and postpone but when Teddy suggests it he is all for it (despite that I am the voice of teddy! :D

Me: Come on. Time to brush your teeth now. It’s almost time for bed.
My son: Okay mommy. Just a little bit longer.
Me holding Teddy bear and being his voice: “Common let’s go brush our teeth now.
My son: Okay teddy. Let’s go quickly.
This works quite well too. For some reason I have noticed that my son listens better to his Teddy at times then he does to me lol. There are times when I will ask him to do something and he will delay and postpone but when Teddy suggests it he is all for it (despite that I am the voice of teddy! :D
Lol works wonders every time.

Obviously this doesn’t need to be a Teddy bear and would general be any of your little ones “talking” TOYS. This would also depend on your child’s age.

5. Consistency and repetition

This is extremely important for kids of any ages. If you don’t allow something one day and then suddenly allow it the next, it will just cause confusion for your child and rightfully so. It will also result in you having to start all over again losing any progress you may have made in that regard when you go back to disallowing the particular thing again.

Stick to what you say. This goes for warnings as well. Don’t say something you do not mean. If you want to threaten to cancel a trip if your child does n do something or behaves in a certain way one more time be prepared to cancel the trip or at least “postpone it” until your child behaves again. If you say that you will do something whether taking away a toy or cancelling a trip) and then do not stick to what you have said, you will just give your child the impression that you cannot keep your word and that they can do whatever they want sand your threats mean nothing.

This is definitely not a good impression to give them. To be on the safe side, don’t make promises or threats you do not plan on keeping or following through on. If you say you are going to do something if something happens (this applies to rewards too!) then DO IT!

6. Taking things away

If your child does not stick to your ‘warnings” or abide by them and does do whatever it is one more time etc. then follow through (as mentioned above).
Taking things away usually works for all ages and can go right through to parenting teenagers too!

For a young child a few months old to a toddler, for example, if they refuse to listen – b your 10 month old does not stop banging the toy against the table after a few warnings, you remove the toy and refuse to give it back until he or she will behave. A small child obviously doesn’t have an understanding of time so this would be at your discretion. After a few minutes they should probably get the idea that you will take it away if they do it again and you can give it back to them after a few minutes.

A toddler, for example, if he or she doesn’t listen and does something you have advised against or requested that he or she stop etc. you  can put a favorite toy (teddy, doll, car, bike etc.) in “Time Out”. This usually works best for me because I don’t like the idea of putting my son in time out just yet. I may use the time out method for him when he’s a little older but right now I feel like he still wouldn’t grasp the concept very well it does work well for other parents though.
I usually put his toys in timeout instead and he is not allowed to play with them for a predetermined period of time.

A teenager or pre-teen you would obviously take away their cellphone, tablet, laptop etc. depending on the situation / “offense”.

7. Guilt trip

This is also another “winner” for me. I think this also depends a lot on your child’s nature as well as his / her age and level of understanding.
When my son was younger and he would hit or scratch, I would never do it back to him (as some people would suggest – I wouldn’t advise that you do it back to them either) but instead would exaggerate the pain and agony with a fake cry. This made him feel terrible and he would apologize and rarely did it again.
Another solution to this is to just put the child down and say “no hitting / biting. I will not pick you up if you do that”. Usually they easily get the message and stop.
Another example of the guilt trip is speaking to your child in a “disappointed or saddened” tone of voice.

My son says a mean word or something mean to somebody like “I don’t want to speak to you anymore”.
I go down to his level and speak to him in a disappointed saddened voice: That’s not a very nice thing to say. Mommy told you that’s not very nice to be mean.
Usually he’ll start to feel bad and say “sorry mommy”. Which is great if what he said or did was towards me. If not and it was towards someone else, I’d say okay. Say sorry to Aunty or Grandma or whoever he was mean to. He usually runs off to apologize and does it a little less if not stopping it all together.

8. Jealousy

 Similar to the guilt trip technique combined with the Teddy role play, jealousy works extremely well for little people!  Often as a quick fix to get my little person to do is something I need or want him to do or to follow instructions I will make his Teddy do it and give his teddy tons of praise, hugs and kisses and he will get jealous and do it instead!
Example: He doesn’t want to get his hair cut.

I say Okay then, “Teddy, are you going to be a good boy and cut your hair?” Teddy in my voice “Yes mommy, I’m a good boy I’ll do it.” Me, “Awww what a good boy teddy” and I give teddy tons of hugs and kisses and walk with him towards the hair cutting chair. My son almost instantly runs towards me and either grabs teddy out of my hand and flings him across the room saying “I will do it! I’m a good boy” or says “No mommy I’ll do it I’m a good boy, not teddy”. In which case I’ll put teddy down and say “no Teddy its fine. Dominick will do it. He’s a good boy Teddy” and take my son to cut his hair J
works like a charm every time for anything from eating his dinner, brushing his teeth or cutting his hair.

9. Talk about it after wards

After a temper tantrum or having to punish your child (taking away a toy, time-out etc.) be sure to talk to them. Obviously this too depends on your child’s age and level of understanding but in most cases though, little people are a whole lot smarter than you think!

Similar to dealing with adults (where for example you can have a civilized conversation often seeing things form the other person’s perspective etc.  when you are calm or in a calmed state of mind the same can be said for dealing with your little ones. When they are having a meltdown or tantrum it is often hard to reason with them or to explain things. A good idea is to wait for the tantrum to subside and for them to be calm and in a better mood – this is usually really soon after the tantrum or situation is over (not too long after or they might forget). Use a couple of quick minutes to talk about what happened.

I will usually sit next to my son and either as me or as Teddy, ask him why he was crying and what was wrong. Depending on the situation I will explain why he couldn’t do something or that he has to have a bath and why and if he eventually did the task (had a bath or brushed his teeth) I will point out that “see, that wasn’t so bad was it?” and he’ll usually say “no” with a smile. It helps him remember it for next time. You can also use this to praise and show appreciation for them eventually following instructions even if it was with a little bit of a tantrum or fight.

10. Tons of love

After punishments be sure to have hugs, kisses and cuddles and to tell him / her that you love them.
Also be sure to make known to your child that you love them whether or not they are good or naughty and that even when they are a little naughty or you punish them it doesn’t mean that you love them any less.

No matter what, always reinforce love to your child. Tell him or her a million times over how much you love him /her and why.
As a mom of a hyper – energy filled and strong minded almost) three year old, I can confidently say that I have tried and tested numerous strategies and ideas when it comes to effective parenting and discipline. These do work – sometimes they work best when you combine a few. Example rewarding good behavior and guilt trip etc.
Parenting can be really hard. There is no “manual” for parenting or disciplining. Try lots of different things – some may work better for one child and something else for the next. Some may work best for a certain situation or behavior and something different for something else.

Don’t give up. You’re an awesome parent and your child will appreciate your efforts when they are old enough to understand!

Keep pressing on!

Good luck :)

Get Free Email Updates


What's on your mind?

Comment here!