A mother disciplining her child

Effective Ways to Discipline Your Children That Aren’t Spanking

The conversation about how the effectiveness of spanking is essentially over in psychology circles, though it continues to rage among the general population. Studies have demonstrated that children who were spanked often demonstrate long-term problems with behavior, including low self-esteem, aggression, mental health problems, and even impaired cognitive ability. If you’re one of those parents seeking healthier and more effective ways to discipline your children and correct poor behavior, you may be wondering what experts recommend.

Positive and Effective Ways To Provide Discipline For Your Children

Alongside the studies exploring the consequences of spanking, research has been done on which methods are both effective and non-damaging to children. A variety of techniques were studied, and their level of success and degree of long-term consequences explored. The following were some of the most effective methods found:

  • Time Out – This is a favored technique of professionals for multiple reasons. The lack of physical punishment is just the beginning; it also teaches a valuable skill. Children who receive time-outs as a form of discipline learn to self-soothe, which is valuable in many situations. Combined with plenty of bonding time with the parent and a gentle explanation, this has proven very effective for many families.
  • Privilege Revocation – The purpose of discipline is to demonstrate that there are consequences for their actions. In cases where a simple time-out doesn’t provide sufficient deterrents, it may be time to employ revoking privileges. Taking away electronics, favored toys (but not comfort items), or the ability to participate in activities provides an effective deterrent.
  • Selective Ignoring – Even more effective than spanking, simply ignoring mild misbehavior (such as tantrums, whining, complaining, etc.) often works. Rewarding attention-seeking behavior with their desired response is counter-productive. So long as no one is in danger and they aren’t destructive, try ignoring the behavior. Respond immediately if they approach you politely afterward to provide some reinforcement.
  • Skill Education – Managing emotions is hard, and we don’t come with the skills to do so preinstalled. When your child is misbehaving, it’s often the result of some form of emotional upset. Teaching them skills to manage their emotions can be quite effective, as can providing them with new problem-solving skills to overcome their obstacles.
  • Logical Consequences – This is essential to ensuring that your discipline is effective. Children must be able to see the connection between their misbehavior and the resulting disciplinary measures. Examples include revoking toy privileges if they don’t clean up their room and revoking snacks if they don’t eat their dinner. (Be sure to speak with your nutritionist if your child isn’t completing their meals, you may be feeding them too much)

These techniques have been demonstrated to be quite effective in deterring poor behavior in children. When used properly, they also avoid risks of long-term behavioral consequences.

Your Family Psychiatrist Can Help Provide Other Options

Raising children is a challenging endeavor at the best of times, and many of us were raised with parenting techniques that were less than ideal. While our parents did the best job they could, we owe it to ourselves to provide our children with the best parenting we can provide. Speak to your psychiatric team to get help with forming good practices to raise healthy, happy kids that are well-adjusted.

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Helene A. Miller / And Other Providers
Family Psychiatry and Therapy brings compassion, understanding, and skilled care to patients throughout New Jersey. Our team of mental health professionals focuses on providing a positive and uplifting experience that aids our patients in facing life’s toughest challenges.