When discussing punishment in our YOU Program workshops, many parents tear up as they share pain and fear from when they were physically disciplined as a child. It's a pain they never want their children to feel, but sometimes don't know how to discipline their children otherwise.
Disciplining a child isn't easy. It’s normal to feel frustrated and mad. If you grew up with physical punishment, take a time-out before disciplining your child to ensure you're cool-headed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes striking a child and discourages any form of physical punishment. Effective non-physical discipline is possible. Here’s how:
Set and enforce rules.
Make it clear to your children what you expect from them. Talk about the house rules frequently, when everyone is calm and things are going well. If the rules are clear and easy to understand, your kids will have an easier time following them.
Ensure every person who cares for your children—babysitters, grandparents, daycare providers—knows the rules and knows how to enforce them.
Children model behavior and may not follow the rules if you or other caregivers don’t follow them, too.
When identifying your child's unacceptable behavior, be clear that while you are disappointed with the behavior, you will always love and support him or her.
Use age-appropriate disciplinary techniques.
The disciplinary method you use with your children should depend on their ages. With toddlers, use brief verbal explanations about the bad behavior, then redirect them to another activity. With teenagers, explain what they did and the consequences of their actions.
It is possible to effectively discipline your children with love and without using physical actions. There's no need to repeat the mistakes of the past when parenting in the present and future.