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In order to understand the full effects of what spanking can do to children, we have to correctly define what spanking is. Spanking is not defined as beating kids or using any type of device to hit children with.

Do you spank your child?

Spanking can be described as using the hand with medium force to strike the child on his/her bottom. When a parent spanks a child, it is usually when the child has done something wrong and is used as a form of punishment.

A researcher lists some of the responsibilities of parents which include:

  • Helping children learn to behave with consideration of self and others
  • Supporting children to develop self control
  • Teaching children the small and large community rules that help them successfully navigate life, and
  • Guiding children as they are learning to make sound choices and decisions

What Parents Should Not Do

Parents should never use excessive force, manipulation or scare tactics with their children. When children are in fear of their parents, this fear can last with them for the rest of their lives.

Parents can use other alternatives to spanking children when they do something wrong. Some of these techniques may even work better then spanking their children.

If parents could learn to keep order in their household without using spanking as a form of punishment then children may be more apt to change negative behavior.

Alternatives to Spanking - Communication is Key

Often parents do not explain to the child or children why they are being spanked. This is when a little communication goes a long way. When the child learns why he/she is being punished they can begin to understand that their actions have consequences.

Communication is important; after all we don’t go around attacking people for no apparent reason. When children are told that their actions are the cause for their punishment, they will begin to associate bad behavior with punishment.

Sit or Stand in a Corner with no Visual or Auditory Stimulation

Do you remember that child that always used to get in trouble in the classroom? You know that one student that always had something smart to say to the teacher, or was always getting into fights? Well, there is a reason for this behavior. Children go through stages in their life; they begin to see who gets more attention as well as those who do not. Of course the smart kids most of the time get a lot of attention, but guess who else get’s the attention of the teacher? Yup, you guessed it, the troublemaker.

By taking the child and putting he/she in an environment away from all of the action is a form of positive punishment. This sends the message to him/her that his/her behavior will not be tolerated.

When parents, teachers or caregivers practice by keeping their reaction under wraps when their child exhibits disruptive behavior, then this behavior will no longer be reinforced. This makes the disruptive behavior slowly dissipate after so many attempts.

Follow through with Punishment - Consistency is Key

By setting rules and letting children know that there will definitely be consequences for negative behavior is one way to stop that behavior from being a problem in the future.

The problem is many parents do not follow through with punishment. This creates problems for the child because of the inconsistency. They might start to think that they will be able to get away with it and not have any sort of punishment.

When children begin to think this way, this is not only detrimental to their future behavior as an adult, but they will continue to get into trouble because they have become accustomed to no punishment being rendered. The key to effective punishment is consistency and making sure that children are held accountable for their actions.

Researchers suggest, “Make a commitment to your child's discipline. You have to do what you say you're going to do. Consequences should be highly predictable for your child.”

Take away Privileges and Set Rules

Does your child have a favorite toy or activity that he/she likes to do. Has he or she been behaving badly? This is something you have to take into consideration when finding alternatives to spanking.

Researchers suggest to also, “Define your child's currency. What does he/she value? You can withdraw a positive (take away a favorite toy) or introduce a negative (giving a time-out) event -- but be consistent.”

Set Rules

When children learn that there are certain rules and regulations they need to follow, they might be less likely to act up. Children should be aware of what proper behavior entails and be rewarded for good behavior. When they break the rules that is when discipline should be enacted.

Researchers suggest, “Setting Rules. Rules should be reasonable, fair, realistic and explained to child(ren) along with the consequences of not following them.”

In Conclusion

When children act out or are exhibiting bad behavior that is when parents need to enact a plan of discipline. Although spanking has been a form of punishment for many years, parents often wonder if this is the most effective form of punishment for bad behavior. Many parents are interested in finding alternatives to spanking by using a less physical approach and one that incorporates direct action. When children are given the reason for their punishment they will be less likely to repeat negative behavior. Children also need to know that their parents will follow through with discipline and not just say they will. When a child is aware that there are consequences for his actions they will be less likely to keep repeating that behavior. When a child is continuously getting into trouble, the child might be acting out as a way to get attention. Even negative attention is better than no attention at all. Parents need to learn not to reinforce bad behavior by giving the child more attention when he/she gets into trouble. Consistency is imperative to successful punishment and should always be followed all the way through to the end.

  • “Factsheet: Effective Discipline Techniques for Parents: Alternatives to Spanking,” Mental Health America.
  • Barbara Gibson, “Alternatives to Spanking- What to do when you don’t want to pull out the belt.”
  • Dr.Phil, Parenting, “To Spank or Not to Spank?”