A study published in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics discovered a link between adult-onset mental health disorders including substance abuse and anxiety and childhood physical punishment including spanking thereby begging the question: How should parents discipline their kids?
1. Cool down first: Never discipline when you feel angry with what your child has done.
2. Take a time-out
3. Give the child time to calm down: Your child will not hear your message if he/she is stressed out.
4. Listen to your child: After you both have calmed down listen to what your child has to say about his/her behavior.
5. Understand the reason for your child’s misbehavior: Armed with an understanding of your child’s thinking, you may find that the misbehavior is really a reactive child engaging in a developmentally expectable behavior that needs your guidance, rather than punishment.
6. Tell your child what was wrong and what is right: When considering how to help the child, reassure him/her of your love and then explain why the behavior was not okay and what he/she needs to do next time. This is the behavior you want. Too often we tell children what not to do and leave off what they need to do.
7. Take a breath: Spanking often happens when you’re so frustrated you don’t know what else to do. So, take a breath, count to ten, and tell your child you need a few minutes to think it through. This will give you time to calmly think about a next step, or ask for help. (And you’ll be modeling a great problem-solving technique! ) Turn the situation into a learning experience. What you really want is for your child to learn something. Punishments (like spanking or taking something away) teach him/her to become clever at getting around you and your rules. But they don’t make kids more cooperative.
9. Give your kid more responsibility with age: With tweens and teens, you lose trust and credibility when you pile on the rules and punishments. They’re old enough to be part of a conversation and understand how their actions are inappropriate, or affect others.. This is the time for you to hand off responsibility to your tween or teen, not be in a power struggle.
10. Provide your child with a choice: No matter what their age, kids like to have choices. They feel they have some control, and are less likely to have a tantrum or give you the attitude that leads to everyone having a meltdown.