How To Discipline Kids Without Spanking
by Alex Jones | January 3, 2018
When I was a kid, I got spanked sometimes. Mostly though, standing in the corner was the ‘go-to’ punishment my parents chose, and honestly, I would have taken the spanking over the standing in the corner most days. We had a special corner in our house. It was in the hall with tile flooring, right next to the garage, and there was a map of Sweden hanging to the right. It was always my game to find things on the map I had seen the last time I stood there, all while never daring to take my nose off of the wall.
Spanking used to be more accepted
I have vivid memories of friends getting spanked by hand or belt, lopped upside the head, or even swatted with a fly swatter. My heart always jumped at their scream, and the sound the smack made. Even then I knew that was no way to parent, and realized that my friends didn’t learn anything from that form of punishment other than to fear their parents. I never wanted to have that kind of relationship with my children. Even now, talking to older members of the family, I can get the response, “Fear is a good thing. If they fear you, they respect you.”. I don’t agree with this at all. Fear is not respect. Respect is something that is earned. Even from the smallest people.
Kids are hard
As a mother of two small boys, I understand the frustration of trying to discipline them in a conscience and gentle way. Some days I feel like being gentle is not getting the job done. But I always try to remind myself that the consequences are much larger than in that moment, and if I can keep my cool not only will they hear me better, but I will walk away feeling better about the situation too. Additionally, they will learn that shouting and hitting are not how we get attention or solve problems. Here are some things to think about in the heat of the moment that might help out.
The louder you are, the less they hear
Think about how it feels when you are getting yelled at? Not so great, right? You don’t really soak in what the other person is saying.You go into yourself in fear or shame. Same rules apply for children. When I yell at my kids because they did something wrong they aren’t listening to the reasons I am shouting at them to not do it again. Instead, they are scared, and they are turning into themselves with fear and shame. Which in turn, has them not registering why they shouldn’t do said thing, and as a bonus can cause them to lash out unfavorably in fear or discomfort.
Getting down on their level
So a calm voice is for the win. How to do you top off that calm voice and make sure that what you are saying gets through?… EYE CONTACT! This is my biggest tip in parenting! In every situation whether it be breastfeeding your newborn or disciplining, have eye contact. In my house, when I need my boys attention I say, “Give me eyes.” He knows exactly what that means, and stops to give me eye contact. This way we can communicate knowing that what is said, is heard. And of course, he can ask the same of me. If he feels I am not focusing on him, he asks for me to “give him eyes”, and I always try to stop right away, because I know that he really needs my attention.
So once the lesson has been taught, how do you discipline or punish so you know your point has been made?
Well, often times after our talks, I don’t feel like he needs to be punished. If I truly felt like the point was made, and he understands, then I try to let it go at that. But, as with any kids, my kid acts out too. Sometimes out of anger or sometimes just trying to find his boundaries. When he is malicious or does something out of spite towards his little brother, the dog, or any living thing, I take that quite seriously, and I always ask why he did that. I try to explain why that would be hurtful. I usually suggest he takes a moment for himself. We have a guest room so this is usually the place he chooses to go because he can lay in the bed and sulk. I tell him that when he wants to show kindness then we would love for him to come back and join us. But we don’t want people around us that hurt us.
Taking luxuries away is always an option too. If your child is attached to a certain toy, game, tv-show or snack, whatever incentives or motivates them, you take it away for a certain amount of time. Explaining the reason why the object or activity will be absent from their lives for a few days and using the leverage as an opportunity to teach them something. Not necessarily as a punishment.
I do believe that physical discipline will not go as far as teaching. And, as a self check I like to think about how I would like to be talked to, and how I learn best. Chances are our kids feel the same.
Momma of two boys.
Wife of omnivore.
Our home is a vegan, organic, home birth, extended breastfeeding, love filled house, which for now, is in Scandinavia.
Tags: advice for a new parent, consequences, discipline, discipline without spanking, gentle parenting, gentle parenting advice, kids, spanking, toddlers